Market Wrap: ASX hits 19 month high

Market Reports

After gains in Wall Street following the US senate and then the Republican controlled House of Representatives passing a bill to avoid the fiscal cliff, the Australian share market opened 2013 stronger and rallied to break the 4,700 point barrier, hitting its highest point since June 2011 and closing 1.2 per cent higher. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 57 points higher to finish at 4,706. The value of trades was $2.1 billion on volume of 482 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).

On the futures market, the SPI is currently 67 points up.

Economic news

The Australian Industry Group says Manufacturing activity contracted for a tenth consecutive month in December. The AIG Performance of Manufacturing Index was 44.3 for the month, below the 50 mark which indicates contraction.

The RP Data-Rismark report indicated a second consecutive annual fall in Australian home values, the worst run in sixteen years for the national property market. According to the report, capital city dwelling values fell 0.4 per cent in 2012, Melbourne being the worst performer with a decline of 2.9 per cent.

Company news

GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD) Managing Director Ian Campbell has advised the company’s board he does not wish to extend his employment beyond July 1 this year when his current contract expires. The GUD Board says it is in the process of appointing an executive search organisation to facilitate an external search for a replacement. Shares in GUD Holdings closed 0.35 per cent down at $8.62.

Sundance Energy Australia Limited (ASX:SEA) has increased its prospects in the US with the acquisition of approximately 2,300 net mineral acres in prolific onshore oil and gas field Wattenberg fields in the Denver Basin. Sundance says the acquisition continues its strategic focus of targeting high working interest in areas with strong risk adjusted returns, with the new assets carrying the potential to contribute to near term increases in production, cash flow and reserves. Shares in Sundance Energy Australia closed steady today at $0.78.

Mining services company Alliance Aviation Services Limited (ASX:AQZ) has entered into new three year finance facilities with ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).

Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG) shares jumped 10 per cent today after the iron ore producer made the first magnetite concentrate shipment from its Karara Iron Ore Project in Western Australia.

Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH) will see 40 per cent of its interest in a Yemen based exploration venture sold for a profit of $US28 million.

Investment company GPT Group (ASX:GPT) has announced an estimated trust distribution of 5 cents per share for the December quarter.


Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Materials adding 243 points to close at 10,844.
The worst performing sector was Health Care, losing 1 point to close at 11,632 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN), rising 10.19 per cent to close at $1.14. Shares in Gindalbie Metals Limited (ASX:GBG) and Mirabela Nickel Limited (ASX:MBN) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU), dropping 5.42 per cent to close at $2.27. Shares in Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG) and Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,680 an ounce. Light crude is $0.84 up at $US92.64 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.046.