Market Wrap: ASX ends day & week on a high

Market Reports

The Australian share market has ended the week on a high – surging to a 22-month high. Boosted by strong Chinese trade figures stocks gained momentum throughout the day, ending 0.7 per cent stronger and edging closer to the 5,000 level. 

Figures

The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 36 points today, extending the weekly gain of 93 to finish at 4,971.

The value of trades was $4.1 billion on volume of 753 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 40 points stronger. 
 
US markets have risen over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has added 83 points. The S&P 500 Index has added 11 points, the Nasdaq has added 23 points and the 100 Index has added 15 points. 
 
Economic news

Investors were given a boost by better than expected Chinese trade data offsetting news Australia’s central bank has cut its domestic growth outlook:

China’s trade surplus has beaten expectations despite narrowing to $US29.2 billion in January, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. The world's second-biggest economy reported a 25 per cent jump in exports and a 28.8 per cent jump in imports last month compared to the year before.  
 
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) Statement on Monetary Policy has revealed Australia’s economic growth rate is forecast to ease in 2013 on the back of anticipated peak in mining investment later this year. The RBA says the outlook for the Australian economy is slightly weaker than it appeared in 2012 and GDP growth is now expected to be below trend in 2013 before picking up in 2014. 
 
Company news

ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has followed the Reserve Bank of Australia and left rates on hold after the RBA left nation’s official cash rate on hold at 3 per cent earlier this week. In its first review of the year ANZ has decided to keep its variable mortgage interest rates on hold at 6.4 per cent after a cut of 0.2 percentage points in December. Shares in ANZ Bank rose 2.22 per cent today, finishing the week at $28.12. 
 
Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has posted a 51 per cent fall in its first half net profit on the back of lower output and sales but forecast improved margins and profitability. Australia’s biggest gold miner believes it is set for significant production growth over the next five years as two of its major growth projects near completion. Shares in Newcrest Mining rose 5.01 per cent today, finishing the week at $24.52. 
 
Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) was today’s worst performing stock after the $1.4 billion proposed takeover of the iron ore miner struck another delay. Chinese officials have ordered Sundance’s Chinese suitor Hanlong Mining to find a partner to help develop its flagship Mbalam project in West Africa before granting the takeover approval.
 
Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK) fell 1.24 per cent after suspending the northern expansion of its Camden coal seam gas project in New South Wales. The energy provider plans to consider community concerns surrounding the project’s safety during the suspension. 
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was health care adding 205 points to close at 12,356.
The worst performing sector was telco services, losing 6 points to close at 1,581 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU), rising 8.85 per cent to close at $2.46. Shares in Gryphon Minerals Limited (ASX:GRY) and Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL), dropping 11.76 per cent to close at $0.30. Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) and Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,672 an ounce, up $11.00 over the week.
Light crude is $0.25 higher at $US96.08 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $1.029, down $0.01 over the week.