Mining stocks lift the market: ASX closes 1.01% higher

Market Reports

by David Chau

The Santa Rally is continuing as the Australian share market performed strongly today – its first day of trading since Friday.  The local bourse jumped at the open and reached an intra-day high of 5,692 points at 1pm. By the end of the day, the ASX 200 closed 1.01% higher.

The local market was boosted by mining stocks, while defensive sectors like Utilities and REITs were not as in-demand today. All four big banks finished higher, with ANZ in particularly posting a 16-month high.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 57 points higher to finish at 5,685.

The value of trades was $3.4 billion on volume of 471 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA).

On the futures market the SPI is 38 points higher.

Company news

Hunter Hall International Ltd’s (ASX:HHL) chief investment officer, Peter Hall, has resigned. The company has not provided any reason for his resignation. Shares in Hunter Hall have been placed in a trading halt until Friday, so the company can assess any impact to its investment mandate and its plans to find a new chief investment officer. Shares in Hunter Hall last traded at $3.25.

Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) has sold its petrol station network to BP for $1.8 billion. However, this deal will need to be approved by the ACCC before it completes. Woolworth’s share price gained 1.93% on the back of this news.

Redflex Traffic Systems Inc, a subsidiary of Redflex Holdings Ltd (ASX:RDF), has signed a Non-Prosecution Agreement with the US Department of Justice. This menas the US authorities can’t prosecute Redflex for criminal actions, arising out of its former CEO committing federal program bribery.

Ausdrill Ltd (ASX:ASL), through its subsidiary African Mining Services, has been awarded a contract to provide mining services at the Yanfolila gold mine in Mali. The company expects this deal to generate revenue of $147 million over 3 years.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Materials adding 2.32 per cent to close at 9,757. The sector with the least gains was Utilities, gaining almost 0.1 per cent to close at 7,958 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Resolute Mining, rising 12.02 per cent to close at $1.17. Shares in Saracen Minerals and Asaleo Care also finished higher.

The worst performing stock was Bega Cheese, dropping 2.36 per cent to close at $4.13. Shares in Caltex Australia and Myer Holdings also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,142 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.87 higher at $US53.89 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7205.