The Australian share market closed at a new four-month high, after gaining for the third straight session, with over half of the major sectors posting gains.
Wall Street was closed overnight for Washington’s birthday but plenty of local earnings results released kept the market buoyed, with the likes of Software company, Altium (ASX:ALU) shares htting a new all-time high after rising 20 per cent, with investors absorbing their half-year results, and record revenue on the back of Chinese revenue lifting 49 per cent.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 17 points, or 0.3 per cent higher to finish at 6,107.
Dow futures are suggesting a fall of 11 points.
S&P 500 futures are eyeing a dip of 1 point.
The Nasdaq futures are eyeing a gain of 10 points.
And the ASX200 futures are eyeing a 12 point rise tomorrow morning.
Local economic news
Chinese travellers to Australia overtook New Zealand, as the leading source of visitors to Australia in 2018, according to new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
RBA board minutes released today, whereby the central bank kept rates on hold for a record 27 times, highlighted that the RBA held the cash rate steady as it deemed the bank ‘a source of stability and confidence while further progress unfolds’. ‘Progress’ in reducing unemployment and lifting inflation.
The RBA also noted that holding the monetary policy unchanged, at its 5 February meeting, was consistent with sustaining growth in the economy and achieving its inflationary target over time.
Iron ore producer, Mount Gibson Iron (ASX:MGX) reported its attributable net profit after tax fell 44 per cent to $45.1 million in the half-year ending 31 December 2018, while its revenue rose 49 per cent to $183.3 million (compared to the same time last year). Mount Gibson says it's shifting its focus back to the Koolan Island mine in the Kimberley region with first ore sales scheduled to occur in April, amid minor mining delays in recent weeks. It maintained its full-year production guidance. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron (ASX:MGX) closed 3.6 per cent higher at $0.71.
Australian engineering group providing construction, maintenance and industrial services, Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) reported its net profit after tax fell 18 per cent to $30.7 million for the half year ending 31 December 2018, and revenue slipped 8 per cent, to $778.5 million, in line with its guidance. The results were hampered by a reduction in construction revenues following the completion of the Ichthys Project and the timing of new opportunities. It also declared a half year interim dividend of 25 cents per share, fully franked. Shares in Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) closed 4.2 per cent higher at $17.3/8
IOOF (ASX:IFL) has announced its net profit after tax (NPAT) rose 200 per cent in the half year to December 2018 end, to $135.4 million. The increase came in part from large, one-off, non-recurring items, including the after-tax $34 million profit from the sale of IOOF’s corporate trust business. IOOF (ASX:IFL) shares hit a new two month high.
Heavy earthmoving equipment company, Emeco (ASX:EHL) has reported a minor slip (a fall of 0.3 per cent) in its first-half statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) to $11.9 million. Its statutory EBIT grew 21 per cent on 1H18 to $52 million, and its revenue climbed 171 per cent to $224.3 million.
Blackmores (ASX:BKL) has flagged that its second half-year profit will not be better than its first-half result with softening China growth. It comes as its China sales fell 11 per cent in the half year 2019 financial year. Its net profit hit $34 million.
Confectionary retail company, Candy Club Holdings (ASX:CLB) started trading today. It floated with an issue price of $0.20, opened at $0.20, and closed at $0.24,
Best and worst performers of the day
The best performing sector was S&P/ASX Financials adding 1.4 per cent (As we reported earlier, the ‘Protecting your Super Bill’, which was passed through both houses, yesterday 18 February 2019. which amends the Superannuation Industry Act (SIS Act) 1993 and prevents super funds from charging fees and costs over 3 per cent when a super balance is below $6,000 and it also allows inactive super funds (inactive for a continuous period of 13 months) into an active account).The worst performing sector was S&P/ASX Consumer Staples, shedding 1.8 per cent.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Altium Limited (ASX:ALU), rising 20 per cent to close at $32.56. Shares in IOOF Holdings Limited (ASX:IFL) and Aveo Group (ASX:AOG) followed higher.
The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Blackmores Limited (ASX:BKL), dropping 24.9 per cent to close at $92.86. Shares in Emeco Holdings Limited (ASX:EHL) and Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) followed lower.
Japan’s Nikkei has added 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.1 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.3 per cent.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at US$1,324 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.2 per cent to US$88.32 and is trading near 3-year highs.
Iron ore futures are pointing to a rise of 0.2 per cent.
Light crude is $0.48 up at US$56.46 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 71.13 US cents.