Market Wrap: ASX posts solid gains

Market Reports


The Australian share market posted solid gains today and closed 0.6 per cent up after strong results from BHP buoyed investor sentiment and CPI data sent the Aussie dollar surging above 94 cents.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 33 points up to finish at 5,577. 
 
The value of trades was $4.6 billion on volume of 700 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 28 points up.
 
Economic news

The ABS consumer price index lifted 0.5 per cent in the June quarter putting yearly inflation at 3 per cent, broadly in line with expectations. 
 
Company news
 
HIV drug researcher Biotron Limited (ASX:BIT) says latest trials of it BIT225 agent has shown reversal of the HIV burden on the immune system and decreases in its effect on immune activation. The drug is amongst a number of recent breakthroughs in HIV treatment.  Earlier this week, unrelated Danish researchers said they had found a way to activate and expose hidden HIV cells to the immune system. Biotron is only in the phase two of its studies of the BIT225 agent and more research over a much larger patient base is needed to prove the drug and have it financed for development. Shares in Biotron lifted 23.81 per cent to $0.13.
 
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has announced a 9 per cent increase in production for the year ended 30 June, 2014. The miner achieved strong operating performance with annual records achieved across 12 operations and four commodities including coal, iron ore, copper and petroleum. BHP also announced the completion of six major projects and said first production at its Caval Ridge coal mine came in ahead of schedule and under budget. BHP has managed to reduce costs and increase output across its operations. CEO, Andrew Mackenzie said he expects growth of 16 per cent over the next two years. Shares in Australia’s biggest miner surged 1.22 per cent to $38.98
 
Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY) seems to have captured some shine after BHP’s results with the beleaguered mining services and drill rig supplier lifting a massive 75 per cent to $0.21 after the mining giant released its full year results. 
 
SIMS Metal Management Limited (ASX:SGM) announced a five year strategic plan to lift earnings by up to 350 per cent saying there was plenty of room for improvement in the business. 
 
Liquified Natural Gas (ASX:LNG) rose again despite a statement to the ASX saying the company was not aware of any further news it hasn’t already announced to the market. Last week the LNG took a major step forward with regulatory approval of its Magnolia LNG project in the US state of Louisiana. 
 
And Vodafone woes continue with operator Hutchison Telecommunications (ASX:HTA) admitting a shrinking customer base and further losses. 
 
Best and worst performers

All sectors made gains. The best performing sector was materials adding close to one per cent to close at 10,440. The worst performing sector was health care, also higher by 0.07 per cent to close at 14,366 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Lynas Corporation, rising 17.65 per cent to close at $0.20. Shares in Magellan Financial Group surged after the fund manager again out- performed the market in its July updated and Sims Metals also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Paladin Energy, dropping 2.67 per cent to close at $0.36. Shares in Buru Energy and Beadell Resources also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,306 an ounce. Light crude is $0.17 down at $US104.42 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 94.32 US cents.