The Australian share market rose 0.3 per cent today and extended the weekly gain of 2.4 per cent after a wobbly start to the month. Despite a run of weak economic indicators over the week global markets moved higher as geopolitical concerns eased.
The local benchmark got a boost with strong earnings results and BHP Billiton Limited’s (ASX:BHP)
possible demerger announcement today. The news pushed the mining sector to the best performer, leading all but the health care sector to a higher close.
Over the following week earnings will continue to remain in focus and central banks will step into the spotlight. The Reserve Bank will release its minutes on Tuesday ahead of the US Federal Reserve’s minutes release on Wednesday.
The S&P/ASX 200 gained 18 points today, widening the weekly gain of 131 points to finish at 5,567.
The value of trades was $4.7 billion on volume of 630 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
On the futures market the SPI is 16 points higher.
America’s major equity indexes have climbed over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 2.1 per cent. The S&P 500 Index has gained 2.3 per cent. The NASDAQ has gained 2.7 per cent. The 100 Index has gained 2.8 per cent.
Shares in BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
rose after revealing it is pursuing a demerger of its non-core assets to simplify its portfolio. The global miner has spruiked the benefits of focussing on its major iron ore, copper, coal and petroleum assets and potentially also potash. Reports speculate the demerger could be announced as soon as next week with BHP set to deliver full year results on Tuesday. Shares in BHP Billiton rose 2.33 per cent to end the week at $39.05.
ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
has shared an upbeat outlook for its annual results after reporting a higher nine-month cash profit. The bank’s cash profit increased 8 per cent to $5.2 billion in the first three quarters of the 2014 financial year, but missed expectations. Over the full year ANZ expects to deliver on its guidance despite margin pressure and weaker revenue growth. Shares in ANZ Banking Group fell 1.07 per cent to end the week at $32.39.
Shares in Stockland Limited (ASX:SGP)
gained almost 1 per cent after selling its 19.9 per cent stake in Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ)
to its suitor, Singapore-listed Frasers Centrepoint Limited (SGX:TQ5). The property developer is set to gain about $80 million after divesting each Australand share it owns for $4.48 a security plus accrued distribution.
Shares in James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX)
plunged to the benchmark's worst performer after the construction materials maker booked an 80 per cent first quarter profit fall and cut its annual guidance.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was materials, adding 1.1 per cent to close at 10,350.
The only major sector to close in the red was health care, losing 0.01 per cent to close at 14,869 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Magellan Financial Group Limited (ASX:MFG)
, rising 8.91 per cent to close at $12.84. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX)
and Sirtex Medical Limited (ASX:SRX)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was James Hardie Industries plc (ASX:JHX)
, dropping 7.29 per cent to close at $12.99. Shares in Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ)
and STW Communications Group Limited (ASX:SGN)
also closed lower.
The price of gold is buying $US1,314 an ounce, up $3.24 over the week.
Light crude is $2.01 lower at $US95.58 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.933, up $0.0053 over the week.