The Australian share market spiked at open and climbed throughout the session to end up 1.5 per cent. Local stocks were supported early in the session following a bright start to Wall Street’s earnings season. Gains were bolstered by lower than expected inflation data from China. The miners found reason to cheer with the inflation data defusing the need for Australia’s largest customer to tighten its monetary policy.
The S&P/ASX 200 index surged 71 points to finish at 4,977.
The value of trades was $4.7 billion on volume of 1 billion shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 59 points higher.
The world’s second largest economy saw its inflation rate ease quicker than expected last month. The National Bureau of Statistics reports China’s consumer price index rose 2.1 per cent in March, slowing from a rise of 3.2 per cent the month before. The figures suggest the People's Bank of China will hold back tightening monetary policy for the time being.
Australian business conditions have tumbled to an almost four year low while business confidence has slightly improved. National Australia Bank Limited's (ASX:NAB)
monthly business survey shows business conditions fell 4 points to -7 while business confidence added 1 point to reach +2 in March.
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP)
is taking on Crown Limited’s (ASX:CWN)
bid to build a $1 billion casino and hotel complex at Sydney's Barangaroo harbourside development. The New South Wales government says it will now consider Echo’s request to extend its monopoly casino licence beyond 2019, potentially derailing James Packer's proposal. Shares in Echo Entertainment Group rose 3.05 per cent today, finishing at $3.72.
Shares in Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN)
gained after flagging a shift in strategy, having booked a first half net loss of $243 million. The youth focused network’s result was hit by more than $300 million in write downs due to redundancy, termination and impairment costs. New CEO Hamish McLennan concedes the company has dislocated much of its audience but has signalled a move away from its extreme youth focus. Shares in Ten Network Holdings gained 6.78 per cent today, finishing at $0.32.
Shares in Alumina Limited (ASX:AWC)
rose after its joint venture partner, US aluminium giant Alcoa (ASX:AAI)
, posted a 59 jump in first quarter earnings and reported improved industry conditions.
Shares in Watpac Limited (ASX:WTP)
lifted after one of the world's largest construction firms acquired a 15 per cent stake in the listed Queensland-based property developer from property tycoon and Watpac Board member, Kevin Seymour.
Shares in Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL)
almost halved in value after the West Africa focused iron ore miner revealed its $1.3 billion proposed takeover by China’s Hanlong Mining has collapsed.
Shares in Australia's biggest uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia Limited (ASX:ERA)
lost ground despite the uranium producer affirming construction of its Ranger 3 Deeps mine in the Northern Territory remains on schedule and within budget.
Best and worst performers
Most major sectors soared: The best performing sector was telco services adding 32 points to close at 1,578.
The only major sector to end in the red was health care, losing 67 points to close at 12,315 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY)
, rising 12.17 per cent to close at $1.29. Shares in Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)
and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL)
, dropping 47.62 per cent to close at $0.11. Shares in Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT)
and Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP)
also closed lower.
Tlou Energy Limited (ASX:TOU)
started trading today: The South Africa focused gas explorer floated with an issue price of 50 cents, opened at 50 cents and gained over the day to close at 53 cents.
Gold is trading at $US1,576 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.28 up at $US93.64 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.043.