The Australian share market was up early on the back of strong profit reports from the telcos before disappointing unemployment figures saw most of the gains reversed. The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 2 points up to finish at 5,308.
The value of trades was $4.3 billion on volume of 777 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
, Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS)
and CSL Limited (ASX:CSL)
On the futures market the SPI is dead flat at zero points.
The ABS jobs figures showed an increase of 0.2 of a per cent in unemployment, bringing the national figure to 6 per cent. That’s the highest figure since July of 2003. Full-time employment decreased 7,100 positions but part-time employment increased 3,400.
While overseas, Societe Generale has rated China, India, Indonesia, and Russia as the emerging economies it assess as having the biggest risk of a hard landing. The French bank is worried about shortcomings in private debt, financial system strength, property overvaulation, monetary conditions and governance issues. SocGen also believes economic growth in China may fall below 2%, with knock on effects for Australian GDP.
Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS)
has reported an increase in net profit of 9.7 per cent for the first half of Fiscal 2014. Australia’s largest telco also reported an increase in total income of 4.1 per cent to $12.8 billion. CEO David Thodey reported that nearly 740,000 new domestic customers were added in the first half as well as an increase in Network Application and Services and international business of nearly 30% in both categories. Telstra today confirmed it was on track to meet its full year guidance and announced an increased interim dividend of 14.5 cents, distributing $1.8 billion to shareholders. Shares in Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS)
closed 0.78 per cent up at $5.15.
Optus’ parent company Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT)
has announced an 41.4 per cent increase in underlying profit on top of a 9 per cent increase in EBITDA despite a 5 per cent decline in revenue. Australian chief Kevin Russell put the result down to a focus on profit growth and improved customer experience.Despite the impressive profit figures, The Australian has reported telco has lost 134,000 mobile customers in the last 12 months, taking its total subscriber base to 9.4 million. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT)
are trading up 1.62 per cent at $3.14.
SPC Ardmona’s parent Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (ASX:CCL)
has struck joint a $100 million rescue deal with the Victorian Government. Coca-Cola Amatil will invest $78 million in the major Australian fruit and vegetable processor, while the state government will provide a further $22 million, provided a minimum of 500 full-time employees will stay on at the site for three years. Shares in Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (ASX:CCL)
are trading up 0.85 per cent.
After a tumultuous week, Forge Group Limited (ASX:FGE)
has been removed from the Australian Securities Exchange. The move comes after a week that saw ANZ pull financial support from the company and saw Forge lay off over 1300 employees from its Queensland and West Australian mining operations. The bourse will remove Forge’s indice at the close of trade today at a zero price. Shares in Forge Group Limited (ASX:FGE)
last traded at $0.92.
Finally, to retail, and David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS)
has reported a 4.7 per cent increase in total sales for Q2 of Fiscal 2014. Like-for-like sales increased 2.1 per cent and online sale were up 150% for the quarter, though DJ’s webstore also launched in Q2. Both women and men’s fashion and accessories delivered strong sales growth with CEO Paul Zahra saying both foot traffic and basket size had increased. None the less, shares in David Jones Limited (ASX:DJS)
are trading down 0.96 per cent.
The best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Telcos after the two biggest players reported those strong results. The sector added 15 points to close at 1,792.The worst performing sector was Health Care, losing 180 points to close at 13,849 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN)
after the Treasurer signalled he might throw them a lifeline if they can reduce costs. The Kangaroo finished up 6.28 per cent to close at $1.19. Shares in McMillan Shakespeare Limited (ASX:MMS)
and Western Areas Limited (ASX:WSA)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF)
, dropping 7.14 per cent to close at $0.58. Shares in Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY)
and WHITEHAVEN COAL LIMITED (ASX:WHC)
also closed lower.
Gold is buying $US1,290 an ounce. Light crude is $0.43 up at $US100.37 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US0.8935.