The local market opened higher today, however by midday was trading flat. The market did pick up by afternoon trade to close on or near its highs.
Just under half of the sectors are seeing gains, with utilities performing the worst. The consumer discretionary and staples sectors were leading the way. Materials, healthcare and financials also traded higher.
Nine Entertainment’s (ASX:NEC) shares soared over 19 per cent after it announced a 55 per cent lift in its half-year net profit after tax. Also one of today's best performers is the a2 Milk Company (ASX:A2M), extending its rally from yesterday after it reported a 150 per cent jump in its net profit after tax to NZ$98.5 million.
The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.09 per cent higher, or 7.2 points higher at 5,951.
The value of trades was $7.3 billion on volume of 939 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were a2 Milk (ASX:A2M), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO).
On the futures market the SPI is 6 points higher.
Nine Entertainment (ASX:NEC) net profit has soared 55 per cent after tax, hitting $117m. It attributes this to a strong selection of shows.The business also posted a 9 per cent jump in revenue to $720m, and EBITDA increased 62% to $182m in its half yearly results for the six months ended 31 December 2017. Nine Entertainment shares closed 16.22 per cent higher at $1.97.
QANTAS (ASX:QAN) delivered record underlying profit before tax in the six months to December of $976 million, surpassing its record of $921 million that it hit in the first half of FY16. Revenue lifted 6 per cent to $8.7 billion. QANTAS shares closed 6.26 per cent higher at $5.60.
Online retailer, Kogan.com (ASX:KGN) announced a massive 470 per cent surge in its profit after tax attributable to members in the half year ending December to $8.3 million. Its revenues from ordinary activities also skyrocketed up 46 per cent to $209.6 million in the six months, when compared to the prior corresponding period.
Webjet’s (ASX:WEB) net profit after tax rose a quarter of a per cent to $20 million in the half year ending 31 December, compared to the same time last year. Its revenue surged 290 per cent to $360 million in the first half of this financial year on the back of higher flight bookings and non-flight revenue.
Simble Solutions (ASX:SIS) started trading today. The software provider floated with an issue price of 20 cents, opened at 0.25 cents and closed at 0.25 cents.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Consumer Discretionary, adding 1.12 per cent to close at 2310. The worst performing sector was Utilities, shedding 2.22 per cent to close at 7597 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nine Entertainment, rising 16.22 per cent to close at $1.97. Shares in Webjet (ASX:WEB) and Flight Centre (ASX:FLT) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Blackmores (ASX:BKL), dropping 14.73 per cent to close at $136. Shares in Myer (ASX:MYR) and Iress (ASX:IRE) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has lost 1.15per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 1.02 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 1.91 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1.324 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.45 down at US$61.34 per barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.08 US cents.
Bitcoin has fallen 1.37 per cent to US$10905, Tether gained about 0.02 per cent to around US$1 and Ethereum has fallen about 2.78 per cent to US$864.