Snapped post GFC blues: Aus shares hang onto gains at close

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

It was a record day for the Australian share market, closing above pre-GFC highs, with the S&P 200 around 6,016 points.

But it wasn’t an easy ride today, at the open local bourse sank like a rock, after Wall Street closed mostly lower, while the iron ore price slipped over 1 per cent. That dragged down the big miners, such as Fortescue Metals (ASX:FMG), South32 (ASX:S32) and BHP (ASX:BHP).

But attractive gains in CBA (ASX:CBA), Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP), Costa Group (ASX:CGC) and Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) also helped the XJO (S&P/ASX 200) to close back above the key milestone for the first time in about 10 years, even though– we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 2 points up, or 0.03 per cent higher to finish at 6,016.

The value of trades was $5.3 billion on volume of 654 million shares at the close of trade.

The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP).

On the futures market the SPI is 2 points lower.

Asian markets 

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng has added 0.3 per cent and the Shanghai Composite has gained 0.3 per cent.

Company news

Virgin Australia (ASX:VAH) announced stronger passenger revenues across its Domestic and International lines as well as Tigerair for the first quarter of this financial year. Its profits from passengers, and profits per kilometre also pushed ahead in the first quarter of FY 2018. Virgin Australia also appointed two new independent directors, with one being the Chairman of Senex Energy (ASX:SXY). Its shares flew sky high today, closing 12.82 per cent higher at $0.22.

Commonwealth Bank (ASX:CBA) reported statutory net profit of $2.8 billion in the September quarter, while its cash earnings rose 6 per cent also over the same period to $2.65 billion. It also announced its improved asset quality and strong operating income. Its first quarter 2018 results were also broadly in line with analysts’ forecasts and that saw also saw its shares outperform the other big banks today and also push the broader market higher.

Global cement manufacturer, James Hardie Industries (ASX:JHX) has inked a deal that will see it become a leading building material business in Europe. It will buy Europe’s leading producer of Gypsum for about US$549 million.

And theme park owner, Ardent Leisure (ASX:AAD) advised its group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Simon Kelly resigned, just a year after four people were killed at Dreamworld’s Thunder Rapids ride.

Best and worst performers of the day

The best performing sector was Reits adding 0.7 per cent to close at 1,380.
The worst performing sector was Materials, shedding around 1 per cent to close at 11,106. points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP), rising 2.22 per cent to close at $4.14. Shares in Westfield Corporation (ASX:WFD) and Scentre Group (ASX:SCG) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Orica Limited (ASX:ORI), dropping 3.58 per cent to close at $18.60. Shares in Incitec Pivot Limited (ASX:IPL) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) also closed lower.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at $US1,278 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.41 lower at $US56.94 barrel - still holding near two-year highs, and
One Australian dollar is buying 76.52 US cents.