Positive incline for ASX: Aus shares close 0.5% higher

Market Reports

by Kathy Skantzos

The ASX took a positive turn early on in the trading session, and continued to rise throughout, finishing on a very positive incline, up 0.5 per cent by the closing bell.

The Energy sector soared ahead, with shares in oil and gas producer Santos (ASX:STO) and Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) rising. James Hardie (ASX:JHX) saw a 7 per cent rise after reporting an increase in sales for the quarter. Info technology also performed well, with NextDC (ASX:NXT) rising 10 per cent. Healthcare recovered from earlier losses, even though Medibank (ASX:MPL) and Sigma Health (ASX:SIG) both closed in the red. REITs fell, with property developer Mirvac (ASX:MGR) finishing lower, and industrials was slightly down, with shares in GWA Group (ASX:GWA) falling. Telstra shares weren’t negatively affected by news that it is writing down $273 million, with telcos finishing in positive territory.

At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index surged ahead to close 31 points up, or 0.5 per cent higher to finish at 6,121, which is 71 points higher for the week.

The value of trades was $4.8 billion on volume of 670 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and BHP (ASX:BHP).

On the futures market the SPI is 27 points higher.

Local economic news

The Producer Price Index, Australia’s business inflation measure, rose 0.6 per cent for the December quarter, after the market expected a loss. This takes the annual figure to 1.7 per cent, above market expectations.

Company news 

US Masters Residential Property Fund (ASX:URF) announced it has rented a record number of properties in the fourth quarter compared to any other year. The property fund secured 75 new leases set to produce a total annualised rent of US$2.92 million. It has 98 properties in the renovation pipeline which are expected to contribute a further US$12.1 million of rental revenue. Shares in US Masters Residential Property Fund (ASX:URF) closed flat at $1.72.

Leisure and entertainment company Ardent Leisure (ASX:AAD) reports that its theme parks, which includes Dreamworld, is expected to report a breakeven EBITDA in the first half of the financial year. Attendance and revenue is up at Dreamworld, however the theme park has experienced a slower than expected recovery in attendance figures from an accident in October 2016. Shares in Ardent Leisure (ASX:AAD) closed flat at $1.99.

Telstra (ASX:TLS) is going to write down the entire value of its US-based intelligent video business Ooyala to zero and also write down $273 million.

Gold and copper producer OceanaGold Corporation (ASX:OGC) is expecting to bump up its gold production by 20 to 25 per cent this year.

Telecommunications company Vocus Group (ASX:VOC) appointed a new non-executive director to its board, Julie Fahey, who has held leadership roles with KPMG, General Motors and SAP Australia.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Energy adding 2.4 per cent to close at 11,233.
The worst performing sector was REITs, falling 1.1 per cent to close at 1,348 points.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was NextDC (ASX:NXT), rising 9.76 per cent to close at $6.30. Shares in James Hardie (ASX:JHX) and Monadelphous (ASX:MND) followed.

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY), dropping 5.6 per cent to close at $3.20. Shares in Syrah Resources (ASX:SYR) and Sigma Healthcare (ASX:SIG) followed lower.

Wall Street wrapped up the four trading days this week closed lower

The Dow Jones lost 1.6 per cent, The S&P 500 lost 1.8 per cent and the tech heavy Nasdaq lost 1.6 per cent, while the 100 index lost 1.8 per cent.

Asian markets are trading lower.

Japan’s Nikkei has lost 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is flat at 0.01 per cent lower and the Shanghai Composite has lost 0.4 per cent.

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,348 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.25 higher at $US65.98 barrel.
One Australian dollar is buying 80.02 US cents.


The three most traded cryptocurrencies are trading lower.

Bitcoin has fallen 14.3 per cent to $8,723.
Ethereum has fallen 16.7 per cent to $956.
Tether has fallen 1.2 per cent to $0.98.

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