Lithium jobs on the rise in WA: ASX closes 1.4% higher

Market Reports

by Rachael Jones

It has been a positive day of trade for the Australian share market - the local bourse managed to maintain momentum and closes 1.4 per cent higher this afternoon. As for the sectors, Energy was the best performer of the day with consumer discretionary the worst. The materials sector also rose led by lithium miner Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), up 16 per cent. At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 76 points higher to finish at 5,633.

Futures market

Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 318 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 33 points.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing fall of 136 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing an 88 point rise tomorrow morning.

Company news

Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) has secured a new funding package for its Pilgangoora lithium-tantalum project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region. The funding package is underpinned by two of Pilbara Minerals’ key customers, Jiangxi Ganfeng Lithium Co. Ltd and Great Wall Motor Company. Two Chinese customers which will underpin a $156.4 million funding package for the expansion. Shares in Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS)

Insurer Suncorp (ASX:SUN) received 24,800 claims so far after wild hailstorms across Sydney, the Central Coast and South East Queensland in December. They are expecting this number to rise as customers return from holidays. Natural hazard costs for the six months to December 31 are expected to hit between $600 and $610 million, which is between $240 million and $250 million more than Suncorp's allocated $360 million "natural hazard allowance" for that six month period. Shares in Suncorp (ASX:SUN) closed 2.3 per cent higher at $12.67.

Kathmandu (ASX:KMD) sales for Australia and New Zealand during December have been below management expectations and the prior year. Same store sales are below prior year by 0.2 per cent in Australia, and below prior year by 2.4 per cent in New Zealand.

CIMIC (ASX:CIM) Group company CPB Contractors has been selected by the NSW Government to construct the Coffs Harbour hospital expansion main works. The project will include a new five-storey clinical services building and will generate revenue of approximately $116 million to CPB Contractors.

And the directors of Energy World Corp (ASX:EWC) have received a a permit from the Department of Energy in the Philippines to construct, own and operate a liquefied natural import terminal and regassification facility.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Energy adding 3 per cent, while the sector with the fewest gains was Consumer Discretionary, gaining 0.5 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS), rising 16 per cent to close at $0.72. Shares in Healius (ASX:HLS) and Speedcast International (ASX:SDA) followed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Super Retail Group (ASX:SUL), dropping 5.4 per cent to close at $6.46. Shares in JB Hi-Fi (ASX:JBH) and Bellamy's Australia (ASX:BAL) followed lower.

Asian markets

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.3 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has lost 0.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite is flat.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,288 an ounce.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 1.2 per cent
Light crude is $0.92 up at $US46.33 a barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 69.43 US cents.

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