The ASX closed higher for the second day this week, shaking off its weak start at the open. From the outset we had positive leads as Wall Street rebounded and the iron ore price rose.
The mining sector stood out as the strongest performing sector today, followed by telcos, financials and energy stocks which all made gains of over one per cent, leading most sectors higher. Mining giant Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG) rose 3.7 per cent with Rio (ASX:RIO) adding about 2.8 per cent. While Pilbara Minerals shone, gaining 5.7 per cent and South32 (ASX:S32) added over 5 per cent.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 48 points up, or 0.83 per cent higher to finish at 5,857
Dow futures are suggesting a rise of 292 points up.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 44 point gai.
Value of trades
$4.5 billion on volume of 566 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
NAB business confidence fell more than expected to a reading of 7 in March down from the prior month’s reading of 9. Analysts forecast NAB’s reading would hit 8.
2017’s market darling which rose nearly 80 per cent, Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) is set for first lithium revenue from Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum Direct Shipping Ore, with Atlas Iron (ASX:AGO) providing US$3 million to help fund establishment costs. Mining of the DSO material at its monster pit is also now well advanced with Atlas to take first delivery in April. Shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) closed 5.7 per cent higher at $0.84.
Toll operator Transurban Group (ASX:TCL) has announced the appointment of Mark Birrell as a Non-Executive director. Mr Birrell is currently Chair of Post Super, Regis Healthcare and the Australian Payments Council.
Orocobre (ASX:ORE) updated the market about its brine drilling in the Jujuy Provence of Argentina which confirmed positive porosity and permeability.
South32 (ASX:S32) shares are trading at two-month high, with the miner in the midst of a US$441 million buy back.
Dairy Company Wattle Health (ASX:WHA) has entered into a joint venture with Organic Dairy Farmers of Australia and Niche Dairy.
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was materials adding 1.5 per cent to close at 11,277.
The worst performing sector was healthcare, shedding 0.7 per cent to close at 26,303. points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Wisetech Global (ASX:WTC), rising 4.9 per cent to close at $9.95. Shares in South32 (ASX:S32) and Retail Food Group (ASX:RFG) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Nanosonics (ASX: NAN), dropping 2.7 per cent to close at $2.49. Shares in IPH (ASX: IPH) and Primary Health Care (ASX:PRY) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 1.4 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.7 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,332 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.17 up at $US63.27 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 77.33 US cents.
Bitcoin trades at US$6,764, Ethereum US$401 and Verge trades 18 per cent higher US$0.18.