It has been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market, setting a fresh three week high, which has left the ASX200 just over 1.2 per cent off its 10-year highs.
Half of the sectors made gains today, health care stocks led the charge, followed by property, financials and the miners. Adding the most gains today were companies releasing results, such as Costa Group, Caltex and Illuka which we will touch on later. Holdings back gains were falls led by telcos and utilities with Speedcast International (ASX:SDA) shedding over 6 per cent.
From the get go, the ASX had positive leads with all three US indices closing higher, gaining over half of their correction-level falls, with Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway stock gaining about 3.9 per cent.
If you stayed overseas and looked at the Dow futures it’s suggesting a weaker start for this evening's open. And as a results, the ASX lost a bit of momentum in afternoon trade. The S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.2 per cent higher for the day or 15 points up at 6,057. And on the futures market the SPI is 21 points up.
The value of trades was $7.2 billion on volume of 960 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
Cabcharge (ASX:CAB) reported an improvement in its loss for the six months ending 31 December 2017. It comes as its revenue improved for the half year, up 14 per cent to $90 million. It comes as Cabcharge built on its app, 13CABS, which saw it bag a 4.7 star Apple App store rating. The cab operator says the ‘favourable trends’ will continue on in the second half of this finanical year.
Caltex (ASX:CTX) reported a slight rise (of 1 per cent) in net profit after tax in 2017, with its profit hitting $619 million for the period ending December 2017 (and that includes significant items such as the impact on oil prices). Its underlying earnings or earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) rose over 5 per cent to $776 million.
Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC) reported a 15 per cent rise in its profits (net profit after tax and self-generating and regenerating assets) to $29 million for the half year ending December 2017. Revenue lifted about 10 per cent on the prior corresponding period to $489 million. The company declared a fully franked interim dividend of 5 cents per share, payable 5 April 2018.
Meanwhile Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) reduced its net loss from $224 million to $172 million for the year ending December 2017. The mineral sands producer’s revenue lifted 40 per cent to just over $1 billion. Underlying earnings (EBITDA) increased 140 per cent and it declared a final dividend of 25 cents per share fully franked. And the company has also announced a new dividend reinvestment plan.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was healthcare adding 0.8 per cent to close at 27,277. The worst performing sector was telcos, shedding 0.9 per cent to close at 1,248. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Costa Group Holdings (ASX:CGC), rising 9.95 per cent to close at $6.85. Shares in Nanosonics (ASX:NAN) and Nine Entertainment Co Holdings (ASX:NEC) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Speedcast International (ASX: SDA), dropping 6.8 per cent to close at $5.20. Shares in IPH (ASX:IPH) and Alumina (ASX:AWC) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.9 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,333 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.45 up at $US64.00 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 78.46 US cents.
The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading mostly higher, Bitcoin has gained 7 per cent to US$10,366, Tether is trading at US$1.00 and Ethereum has gained 3 per cent to US$877.