End of week rally: Aus shares close 0.99% higher

Market Reports

by Clive Tompkins

The Australian share market rallied today – jumping 56 points to break through the 5,700 points mark. The local bourse was boosted by a positive lead from global equities after US President Donald Trump said he would announce 'phenomenal' tax cuts in the next 2 - 3 weeks.

Most sectors finished the trading day with gains of at least 1%. Utilities and Energy stocks were the best performers, while the only sector which finished in the red was REITs.

Also, the Reserve Bank released its statement on monetary policy today. The RBA is expecting economic growth to be between 1.5 and 2.5% in the year to 30 June. The RBA cut its growth estimate by 1 percentage point since its November forecast due to a surprise fall in growth during the September quarter.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index gained 56 points (or almost 1%) to finish at 5,721 points. Since Monday, the index has finished 99 points higher.

The value of trades was $5.1 billion on volume of 756 million shares. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) and Westpac Bank (ASX:WBC)

On the futures market the SPI is up 57 points.

Looking at Wall Street, US major indexes have finished higher over the four trading days this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 Index have both gained 0.5 per cent each. The NASDAQ has added 0.9 per cent. The 100 Index rose by 1 per cent.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has released its housing finance figures for the month of December. Over the year, the number of home loans rose 0.4% (seasonally adjusted), which fell below expectations of 1% increase. As for the value of owner-occupied home loans rose 1.3%.

The number of home loans rose by 0.4 per cent in December – missing expectations of a 1 per cent rise. This was driven by a 1.3 per cent increase in the number of owner-occupied housing loans. Those figures are seasonally adjusted.

Company news

Pinnacle Investment Management (ASX:PNI) is planning to increase its offer for the proposed off-market takeover of Hunter Hall International (ASX:HHL). Pinnacle intends to pay $2.00 per Hunter Hall share. This is a 25% premium over the revised offer from Washington H. Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL) on 10 February. Shares in Pinnacle are flat at $2.54.

Medibank Private (ASX:MPL) has received approval from the Federal Government to increase its premiums by around 4.6% from 1 April.

Sandfire Resources (ASX:SFR) and Pacifico Minerals (ASX:PMY) have finalised the funding arrangements for their Borroloola West Joint Venture in the Northern Territory. Sandfire will fund 49% of the exploration costs, while Pacifico will contribute 51%.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Utilities, adding 1.6 per cent to close at 8,334. The worst performing sector was REITs, losing 0.5 per cent to close at 1,369 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Aconex (ASX:ACX), rising 7.9 per cent to close at $3.55. Shares in Newscorp (ASX:NWS) and BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Newcrest Mining (ASX:NCM), dropping 3.18 per cent to close at $22.54. Shares in Resolute Mining and Saracen Minerals also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,224 an ounce, and has risen $10.22 over the week.
Light crude is $0.67 higher at $US53.14 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying US$0.764, and is 0.1 cents lower over the week.