Mid-week gains: Aus shares close 0.2% higher

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market ended in positive territory today,  for the second day this week.

Before the open, we had positive leads from Wall Street with the Federal Reserve entering its two-day meeting, with markets expecting a rate hike of 25 basis points.

About half of our sectors closed in the black, with energy stocks making the most gains after the crude oil price spiked. The likes of Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) gained 8.8 per cent higher, with Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) following.

BHP (ASX:BHP) clawed back some of yesterday’s losses and gained about 0.9 per cent, while Rio (ASX:RIO) ended flat.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 14 points up, or 0.2 per cent higher to finish at 5,950.

Futures

Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 31 points up.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 18 point gain.

Value of trades 

$4.7 billion on volume of 705 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).

Company news 

Cement manufacturing company, Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) has presented at Credit Suisse’s annual Asian investment conference noting 2018 demand for construction materials and lime looks strong and supports its positive outlook. It also told the Hong Kong audience it's pursuing organic and acquisition growth opportunities. Shares in Adelaide Brighton (ASX:ABC) closed at $6.62.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has sold out of intellectual property firm IPH (ASX:IPH) and IPH shares finished 0.3 per cent higher at $3.55.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has launched a new debt reduction program, a bond purchase and redemption plan for up to US$2.5 billion. It also announced it's selling two of its coal assets in QLD for $1.7 billion, to Glencore. 

James Packer has resigned as a director of Crown Resorts (ASX:CWN) for personal reasons.

Santos (ASX:STO) looks to be leading the race as the lead candidate, in supplying back fill gas to Darwin LNG. It comes as the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority (NOPSEMA) accepted the Barossa gas field JV’s project proposal.

Myer (ASX:MYR) shares lifted but then fell after it announced its results today. It reported a net loss of $476 million for the half year to 27 January 2018.

And investment company, Contango Asset Management (ASX:CGA) has announced plans to snap up Switzer Asset Management (ASX:SWT) for about 7.2 million shares. Marty Switzer will also become the new CEO of the firm.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was energy adding 1.2 per cent to close at 10,137. The worst performing sector was utilities, shedding 0.9 per cent to close at 7,566. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC), rising 8.8 per cent to close at $4.58. Shares in Nufarm (ASX:NUF) and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG), dropping 7.6 per cent to close at $1.03. Shares in Invocare (ASX: IVC) and Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei is steady, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.5 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,314 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.61 up at $US63.74 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.00 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has gained 7 per cent to US$9,129, Ethereum gained about 8 per cent to US$567 and Ripple is trading at US$0.72.