The Australian share market rebounded from a soft start to the session to end 0.7 per cent higher. Stocks sagged at open in the absence of a lead from Wall Street but spiked in the afternoon and sustained gains.
Financials stayed strong throughout the session while the miners dragged, exacerbated by a drop in the iron ore price. The price of the steel making commodity has continued to tumble following China’s growth figures out yesterday which fell to a 14-year low in 2013.
Attention will now turn to Wall Street as investors return from the Martin Luther King Jr public holiday to start the trading week.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 36.5 points to close at 5,331.5.
The value of trades was $3.1 billion on volume of 551 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 33 points higher.
Nucoal Resources Limited (ASX:NCR)
plunged amid fears it has lost its Doyles Creek mining licence in New South Wales. The miner has been at the centre of a corruption inquiry and was yesterday dealt another blow when the state government revealed its intention to cancel the licence without compensation. Nucoal’s Chairman has today lashed out at the decision, calling it grossly unfair and threatening to launch a constitutional challenge. Shares in Nucoal Resources plunged 55.26 per cent today to end the session at $0.03.
Shares in GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD)
defied negative news and rose on hopeful prospects. The company flagged a 20 per cent fall in annual underlying earnings today after reporting a steep interim profit drop. Managing Director Jonathan Ling says he was disappointed to announce an unacceptable profit performance for the company’s core businesses but vowed to restore profitability. Shares in GUD Holdings gained 0.35 per cent today to end the session at $5.74.
Iron ore miners Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG)
and Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)
slumped to the worst performers after the price of the steel making commodity slipped about 2 per cent overnight.
New Zealand's biggest telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus Limited (ASX:CNU, NZE:CNU) has had its credit rating cut by a notch to the bottom of the investment grade band by Moody’s Investors Service.
Property developer Watpac Limited (ASX:WTP)
has scored a $83 million contract to build a nuclear medicine facility in New South Wales for the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.
Takeover target Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co (ASX:WCB)
is continuing to be pursued by its suitors with Canadian dairy giant Saputo boosting its voting power to 47.85 per cent, fuelling speculation Suputo could gain a majority shareholding before its offer closes tomorrow evening.
Best and worst performers
Most sectors lifted from the day’s lows to end on positive territory: The best performing sector was health care, adding 209 points to close at 14,639. The worst performing sector was energy, losing 24 points to close at 13,570 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSE)
, rising 7.47 per cent to close at $0.94. Shares in Magellan Financial Group Limited (ASX:MFG)
and GWA Group Limited (ASX:GWA)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG)
, dropping 4.59 per cent to close at $5.41. Shares in Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)
and Forge Group Limited (ASX:FGE)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,253 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.65 lower at $US93.72 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.882.