Financials gain, miners weight: Aus shares close 0.5% higher

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market closed higher for the second day in a row finishing with a gain of 0.5 per cent or with the S&P/ASX 200 index adding 27 points, finishing at 5,789.

From the outset we have positive leads with the Dow posting a massive recovery from its plunge of 700 points.

As for our sectors financials sang the winning tune today, leading most areas of the market higher, which left the local bourse elevated through the day.

Leading annuity provider Challenger (ASX:CGF) saw a lot of shine, up 2.3 per cent with the big banks following and CBA (ASX:CBA) out in front. The property sector also saw some stellar gains but it was the come back from Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) that also added to ASX200 gains with the owner of Gloria Jean’s Coffees clawing back some of this week’s losses.

Capping gains today, falls in the miners again after the iron ore price fell slightly with Fortescue (ASX:FMG) down 3.2 per cent and Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) down about 1.2 per cent.

Futures

The Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 57 points up.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 31 point gain.

Value of trades

$4.8 billion on volume of 626 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), and Westpac Banking Corp (ASX:WBC).

Local economic news

Australia’s balance of trade fell to a surplus of $825 million in February, down from the previous months $952 million surplus. It comes as imports for consumption goods rose 7 per cent and non-monetary gold import lifted by 17 per cent. Despite the weaker surplus, it beat economist’s expectations the surplus would only be about $700 million.

Meantime the service index, measured by AIG rose more than expected in March, hitting a reading of 56.9, beating forecasts that the reading would fall from the prior month’s index of 54.

Company news now

A leading lithium company, Orocobre (ASX:ORE) advised its production fell about 30 per cent in the March quarter which disappointed shareholders who sold down the stock today, which saw it lose about six months of gains. It comes as the lithium company saw evaporation rates fall over 20 per cent amid reduced solar radiation from cloudy conditions and above average rainfall. Sales however saw a record average price and gross margins are expected to be higher than the December quarter. Shares in Company name (ASX:ORE) closed 9.5 per cent lower at $4.74.

South32 (ASX:S32) has provided US$275,000 in funding to a small mining company, Inca Mining (ASX:ICG) in order to receive the exclusive option to earn-in and acquire majority ownership of Inca’s lead zinc-silver-lead project in Peru.

Bapcor (ASX:BAP) has signed an agreement for the sale of its New Zealand based business TBS group for NZ$35 million.

Sydney Airport (ASX:SYD) is welcoming a new director today, Abi Cleland as a non-executive director, who’s previously worked with ANZ (ASX:ANZ), Amcor (ASX:AMC) and Caltex (ASX:CTX) and BHP (ASX:BHP).

Wattle Health Australia (ASX:WHA) has signed an agreement to supply their conventional cow infant formula for sale in traditional retail and general trade in mainland China.

The takeover of oil and gas company AWE (ASX:AWE) by one of Japan’s big five trading houses Mitsui & Co is now unconditional with Mitsui and Co’s stake in the firm now at over 52 per cent

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was financials adding 1.1 per cent to close at 6,830.
The worst performing sector was materaisl, shedding 0.6 per cent to close at 11,045. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Retail Food Group Limited (ASX:RFG), rising 10.7 per cent to close at $0.93. Shares in Wisetech Global Limited (ASX:WTC) and Infigen Energy (ASX:IFN) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Orocobre Limited (ASX:ORE), dropping 9.5 per cent to close at $4.74. Shares in Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) and Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) followed lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has added 1.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and the Shanghai Composite are not trading due to a public holiday.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,329 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.05 up at $US63.56 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 76.91 US cents.

Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin has fallen 7 per cent to US$6,855, Ethereum lost about 6 per cent to US$381 and Ripple shed about 7 per cent to US$0.50