The Australian share market spent the day in positive territory before closing just off session highs, 0.7 per cent higher, as investors cheered dovish comments from US Federal Reserve vice chair Janet Yellen, who signaled no imminent end to stimulus measures. While healthcare stocks led gains, the big banks bounced back from yesterdays red finishes and the miners were also mostly strong. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 36 points up to finish at 5,355.
The value of trades was $4.2 billion on volume of 731 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
, BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
On the futures market the SPI is 30 points up.
New Sims Metal Management Limited (ASX:SGM)
chief Galdino Claro says conditions in metals markets remain tough four months into the current financial year due to a sluggish north American economy. Mr Claro says despite difficulties in the US, earnings Australasia were higher so far this year, while a restructure of Sims UK operations has brought improved results so far. Shares in Sims closed 1.30 per cent up at $10.15.
BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL)
has forecast an underlying net profit of $19.7 million for the December half, in line with the second half of fiscal 2013. Despite pointing to the positive impact of a weaker Australian dollar and low interest rates, the steelmaker says it remains wary of challenging domestic conditions. Shares in BlueScope closed 6.22 per cent up at $5.29.
Singapore Telecommunications Limited (CHESS) (ASX:SGT)
owned Optus says aggressive cost cutting measures are behind a 33 per cent surge in its second quarter profit of $218 million
Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH)
has launched into a $350 million equity raising to boost its balance sheet.
Takeover target Graincorp’s Limited (ASX:GNC)
underlying annual profit has fallen 15 per cent to $174.5 million as it continues to be pursued by US grain giant, Archer Daniels Midland.
Shares in James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX)
spiked 14.94 per cent to close as the day’s best performer after revealing a $US194.1 million first half net profit.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 153 points to close at 14,003.
The worst performing sector was Utilities, losing 25 points to close at 5,409.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX)
, rising 14.94 per cent to close at $12.00. Shares in St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM)
and Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Independence Group NL (ASX:IGO)
, dropping 6.81 per cent to close at $3.42. Shares in Ausdrill Limited (ASX:ASL)
and Sirius Resources N.L.(ASX:SIR)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,286 an ounce. Light crude is $0.84 up at $US93.88 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9352.