Australian shares closed up 0.49% after hitting a six year high in early trade. Most sectors closed in positive territory led by materials. NAB bucked the trend however falling 1.76 per cent following the release first quarter trading update.
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 26 points up to finish at 5,439. Over the week the index 82 points higher.
The value of trades was $5.09 billion on volume of 897 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS)
On the futures market the SPI is 32 points up.
US stocks have risen over a shortened trading week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 106 points. The S&P 500 Index added 10 points. The NASDAQ added 27 points. The 100 Index added 12 points.
The Bank of New York, has predicted the Aussie dollar is headed sharply lower this calendar year after China has reportedly stockpiled vast amounts of iron ore. The expected the drop off in demand for Australian iron ore will drag the terms of trade lower and with it the dollar. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted the Aussie may fall as far as US $0.85. DeutscheBank is predicting the Aussie may fall as low as US$0.60.
Gold miner Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL)
has had a tough return from a four day suspension of trade after a flash flood at its Duketon Gold Project at Laverton, WA. The West Australian reported a flood barrier failed at its Garden Well pit which was filled to an average depth of 45 metres. The company’s Rosemont pit was also affected by the weather. The miner reported it may take 3 months to pump the water out. The company made clear that production at its Moolart Well facility has been unaffected. Shares in Regis Resources closed 17.15 per cent down at $2.56.
Crown Resorts Limited (ASX:CWN)
says its Australian resort business was hit by weak consumer sentiment but its Macau casino joint venture recorded record results in the first half of Fiscal 2014. Crown posted a net profit of $382.5 million for the half, up 111.6 per cent from $180.8 million in the six months to December 2012. The group will pay an interim dividend of 18 cents per share, fifty per cent franked on 11th of April.
Shares in Crown Resorts are trading down 3.19 per cent at $16.68.
National Australia Bank Limited’s (ASX:NAB)
unaudited cash profit grew 7 per cent in the last three months of 2013 to $1.55 billion, on the back of mortgage growth and falling bad debts. While CEO Cameron Clyne has described the first quarter result as solid he warned it may continue to be impacted by increasing claims from customers in the United Kingdom. Shares in National Australia Bank are trading down 1.76 per cent at $0.74.
Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG)
has entered a two day trading halt after announcing it has narrowed its first half loss to $126.3 million. The company reported $132.6 million in asset write-downs and restructuring costs during the half as well as weak demand in its US and European operations. Shareholders approved a $386 million debt and equity rescue package last month. CEO Neil Fiske said the company was in the middle of a ‘complex and difficult turnaround.' Shares in Billabong International are trading up 1.37 per cent.
The best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Materials adding 121 points to close at 10,732. The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 39 points to close at 13,706 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Breville Group Limited (ASX:BRG)
, rising 8.11 per cent to close at $9.73. Shares in Magellan Financial Group Limited (ASX:MFG)
and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL)
, dropping 17.15 per cent to close at $2.56. Shares in Santos Limited (ASX:STO)
and Orora Limited (ASX:ORA)
also closed lower.
The price of gold is buying $US1,317 an ounce, and is up $11.30 over the week. Light crude is $0.39 lower at $US102.92 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $0.8993 and is flat for the week.