The Australian share market closed 0.3 per cent stronger, led by strong gains among health stocks. Financials were also strong, with the Commonwealth Bank hitting a new record share price this morning and continuing to soar, finishing at $75.58 and taking its market capitalization to $121.2 billion- above that of mining giant BHP Billiton’s Australian listed business.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 17 points up to finish at 5,373. The value of trades was $3.9 billion on volume of 642 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 18 points up.
Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (ASX:WCB)
directors are still backing the takeover offer from Canadian dairy giant Saputo. Chairman Terence Richardson says Saputo has clearly expressed its intention to increase existing capacity, introduce new product lines, pay a leading competitive milk price and retain existing farmer supplier process and structures. Shares in WCB closed 0.25 per cent up at $8.15.
Australian Agricultural Company Limited (ASX:AAC)
has exchanged contracts to purchase two Northern Territory cattle stations for $27.1 million. Acting CEO Craig White says the purchase will prove strategically beneficial as the company plans to open a new abattoir in Darwin in the second half of 2014. Shares in AACo closed 0.45 per cent down at $1.11.
Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS)
remains confident that it will be able to secure its $11 billion agreement with the government during formal renegotiations with NBN Co.
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES)
shares firmed after its supermarket titan Coles increased total first quarter sales by 4.9 per cent to $8.9 billion across its food, liquor and convenience divisions after improving its store network.
Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
shares fell 3.36 per cent after it warned shareholders the group's first-half profit may come in below expectations due to difficult trading conditions.
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API)
shares gained 3.57 per cent after it booked a net profit of $24.3 million – down 19.8 per cent on the previous year’s result.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 99 points to close at 13,967.
The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 39 points to close at 13,858.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSE)
, rising 5 per cent to close at $1.47. Shares in Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL)
and Asciano Limited (ASX:AIO)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR)
, dropping 11.82 per cent to close at $2.76. Shares in Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML)
and Linc Energy Limited (ASX:LNC)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,336.82 an ounce. Light crude is $1.44 down at $US96.89 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9648.