The Australian share market advanced 1 per cent today to nudge five-year highs while the local currency pushed closer toward $US0.94. Across the market all sectors were green and going up on the back of a surprise takeover bid for David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS). Consumer discretionary stocks were supported by the news and the sector gained 2 per cent by close to finish on top. Across the board resources rose in response to a lower US dollar and higher commodity prices while banks were boosted by a lift in February housing finance.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 53 points today to close at 5,464.
The value of trades was $5 billion on volume of 848 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 Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
On the futures market the SPI is 58 points stronger.
Housing finance rose more than expected in February. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports home loans granted gained 2.3 per cent to 52,460 in February against expectations for a rise of 1.5 per cent. Total housing finance by value gained 2.9 per cent to $27.644 billion in the same month. As part of the total figures loans to investment housing gained 4.4 per cent while loans to first home buyers sank 12.5 per cent – indicating the difficulty of entering into Australia’s housing market.
Consumer sentiment lifted this month but not as much as expected. Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
and the Melbourne Institute’s Index of Consumer Sentiment firmed 0.3 per cent to 99.7 in April but remained under 100 which indicates there are more pessimists than optimists.
Shares in David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS)
shot up more than 20 per cent after the department store retailer received a surprise $2.15 billion foreign takeover bid. South African retail group Woolworths has offered DJ’s $4 per share with DJ’s boss Paul Zahra describing the proposal as compelling. Shares in David Jones shot up 22.57 per cent today to close at $3.91.
Only hours after David Jones released the news Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR)
announced it has withdrawn its own proposal to merge with the retailer. Myer approached DJ’s for a $3 billion merger in October 2013 which David Jones said it was considering as recently as last month. Shares in Myer Holdings gained 3.91 per cent today to close at $2.39.
Shares in WorleyParsons Limited (ASX:WOR)
climbed 7 per cent after the professional services company launched a $35 million restructure to simplify its corporate structure into three new divisions.
Aluminium manufacturer Alcoa (ASX:AAI, NYSE:AA) has booked a first quarter net loss from write-downs but improved its quarterly earnings on the back of stronger demand.
Indonesian-focused miner Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU)
shareholders have backed the boards recommended settlement of a dispute which will see the company receive $US80 million.
Shares in Compumedics Limited (ASX:CMP)
jumped 21 per cent after the developer of computer based medical products announced it has scored a US contract giving it access to 1,400 hospitals.
Best and worst performers All sectors advanced: The best performing sector was consumer discretionary, adding 35 points to close at 1,833.
The sector with the smallest gains was health care, adding 102 points to close at 14,497 points. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS), rising 22.57 per cent to close at $3.91. Shares in WorleyParsons Limited (ASX:WOR) and Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX)
, dropping 2.65 per cent to close at $13.60. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX)
and Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG)
also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,313 an ounce.
Light crude is $2.12 higher at $US102.56 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9367.