Solid start to week: Aus shares close 0.7% higher

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

It has good start to the trading week with the ASX heading back towards one year and 10-year highs. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.7 per cent or 42 points higher at 6,042.

At the open we were heading higher on the back of Wall Street’s rally on Friday with tech stocks rising the most. And throughout the trading session held above the key milestone 6,000 mark, with most of the sectors pushing forth.

Financials, property, telcos and health stocks shone to most. Westpac (ASX:WBC) gained the most out the of the big four, up 1.9 per cent, Lendlease (ASX:LLC) gained 2.2 per cent, and Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) shares gained over 1.7 per cent after its group CEO resigned and it appointed Michael Simmons, a divisional chief executive as interim CEO.

Water system company, Reliance Worldwide (ASX:RWC) also another strong performer after it released its half year results. Bluescope Steel (ASX:BSL) another top performer after it announced its second half underlying earnings will be 25 per cent higher than the first half. Local lithium giant, Orocobre (ASX:ORE) also rubbed shoulders with today’s stars after it reported results last Friday.

Putting a cap on gains, utilities and staples, while some investors and traders absorbed a suite of results that missed the mark, such as G8 Education (ASX:GEM) which reported its underling earnings fell slightly in FY17, which saw its shares slide.

And in afternoon trade the Dow futures are eyeing a gain and the ASX200 SPI futures are suggesting a rise of 33 points up.

The value of trades was $6.1 billion on volume of 683 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).

Company news 

Japara Healthcare (ASX:JHC) reported its net profit fell about 30 per cent in the half year ending December to $10.3 million, while its sales revenue lifted marginally or by 2 per cent in the six months to $180.6 million. The aged care provider says its revenue was weaker on the back of Federal Government funding cuts, while its EBIT fell on the back of higher wages and financing costs. Shares in Japara Healthcare (ASX:JHC) closed 0.5 per cent lower at $2.01.

BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) has reported a fall in underlying net profit to $321 million, while its sales revenue strengthened, up 7 per cent to $5.5 billion for the half year ending December. The company declared an interim ordinary dividend of 6 cents per share.

The owner of Dreamworld, Ardent Leisure Group (ASX:AAD) reported its theme parks are showing improved trends. It also announced its net loss after tax fell to $15.6 million for the half year to December 2017 from $49 million. It also announced it appointed a new CEO, Chris Morris of its Main Event Entertainment division on 26 March 2018.

Spark Infrastructure Group (ASX:SKI) reported a 9.3 per cent rise in its profit for the full 2017 year ending December with its net profit after tax hitting $88.6 million.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was financials adding 1.2 per cent to close at 7,220. The worst performing sector was utilities, shedding 0.6 per cent to close at 7,600 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Reliance Worldwide Corporation (ASX:RWC), rising 6.8 per cent to close at $4.42. Shares in Nine Entertainment Co (ASX:NEC) and Orocobre (ASX:ORE) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was G8 Education (ASX:GEM), dropping 7.9 per cent to close at $2.90. Shares in Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC) and Mayne Pharma Group (ASX:MYX) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.7 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.8 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,337 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.78 up at $US63.55 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.65 US cents.


The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mixed: Bitcoin has fallen 0.5 per cent to US$9,736, Tether is pretty much trading flat at US$1.00 and Ethereum has gained about 1.5 per cent to US$855.