The Australian share market finished the week more than 1 per cent higher today on news European officials have struck a deal to inject more aid into debt laden Greece. Local stocks gained throughout the day, fueled by financials and the big four banks. National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) and Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG) led the charge, both with significant operations in Europe.
The S&P/ASX200 Index gained 47 points to close at 4,603 while for the week it was 129 points stronger. On the futures market, the SPI is 52 points higher.
Looking to the US and on Wall Street, the DOW Jones Industrial Average was up 245 points over the four trading days this week. The S&P 500 Index was up 28 points, NASDAQ was up 45 and the 100 Index was up 48.
Investors stayed with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) today, despite the bank announcing its CEO Ralph Norris will retire in November. CBA’s current head of business and private banking, Ian Narev, will step into the top job on December 1 that delivered his predecessor a $16 million pay pack last year. Mr Narev’s own remuneration will be a lot less. His new contract includes base pay of $2.5 million per year and an extra $2.5 million in discretionary short-term incentive cash payments. Shares in Commonwealth Bank rose 1.57 per cent today, closing at $50.52.
Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL) didn’t just catch the eye of suitors this week but the Australian Securities Exchange. Responding to a price and volume speeding ticket, the Africa focused iron-ore miner today told ASX Ltd (ASX:ASX) it was unaware of any material information to explain the recent spike in its share price. On Monday Sundance received a $1.4 billion takeover bid from its largest shareholder, China’s Hanlong Mining. Speculation emerged yesterday that Swiss mining giant Xstrata could be eyeing a counter bid. Shares in Sundance continued to rise today, adding 2.88 per cent to close at $0.535.
Shares in Austar United Communications Ltd (ASX:AUN) plunged today after Australia’s competition regulator voiced concerns that Foxtel’s $2 billion bid for the regional pay-TV provider could create a pay-TV monopoly.
After recovering some ground mid this week, shares in News Corporation (ASX:NWS) took another hit today. News Corp has a 25 per cent stake in Foxtel, and the ACCC’s words of warning couldn’t have helped the media company still reeling from the impact of the UK phone hacking scandal.
Best and worst performers
All sectors closed in positive territory. The best performing setor was was, Industrials, rising 76 points to close at 3,617. The sector with the smallest gains was Health Care, adding 6 points to close at 8,628 points. The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was ConnectEast Group (ASX:CEU), after recommending its shareholders accept a $2 billion takeover bid from its largest shareholder, CP2. Shares in ConnectEast Group surged 20 per cent to close at $0.54. Shares in White Energy Company and Energy World Corporation also ended the week higher. The worst performing stock was Austar United Communications, plunging 16.22 per cent to close at $1.085. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceuticals and Oceana Gold also closed in the red today.
Gold is trading at $US1,589 an ounce, down $3.07 on the week. Light crude is up 63 cents to $US99.76 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0847 cents, and is up on the week.