Market Wrap: ASX buoyed as earnings impress

Market Reports

The Australian share market was buoyed 1.4 per cent over a week in which local earnings reports impressed. Local stocks widened seven sessions of gains today but ended just 0.1 per cent higher ahead of a speech from the US Federal Reserve’s Chair. Traders will be looking for any clues on the direction of US monetary policy when the central bank’s chief Janet Yellen addresses the Jackson Hole symposium. 
 
Across the sectors today lower commodity prices dragged on the miners and the telco sector fell but energy stocks were fuelled by strong earnings results and outlooks. In the week ahead Australia will get more earnings including results from Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW), WorleyParsons Limited (ASX:WOR) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX:QAN).  
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 7 points today, widening the weekly gain of 79 points to finish at 5,646. 
 
The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 731 million shares at the close of trade. 
 
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 3 points higher.
 
Wall Street
 
America’s major indexes have marched higher over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained 1.9 per cent. The S&P 500 Index has gained 1.9 per cent. The NASDAQ has gained 1.8 per cent. The 100 Index has gained 1.9 per cent. 
 
Company results
 
Mermaid Marine Australia Limited (ASX:MRM) jumped to the benchmark’s best performer after unveiling its annual results. The marine logistics provider says a strong second half performance drove its full year net profit to almost $54 million, down 3.3 per cent from the prior year. Mermaid Marine secured a number of contracts over the year and says its Jaya acquisition has significantly transformed its business. Chairman Tony Howarth says the Australian offshore oil and gas market continues to be strong and the company positioned itself for future growth over the year. Shares in Mermaid Marine Australia rose 6.91 per cent to end the week at $2.32. 
 
Shares in Santos Limited (ASX:STO) gained after hiking its dividend, affirming its annual guidance and announcing a new gas discovery. The oil and gas producer’s first half net profit dropped 24 per cent due to a write-down relating to its withdrawal of its coal seam gas assets in Indonesia. Santos has lifted its interim payout by 33 per cent following the start up of the $US19 billion PNG LNG project ahead of schedule. Shares in Santos gained 3.91 per cent to end the week at $15.16. 
 
Shares in Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) increased 3.38 per cent despite booking a first half net profit fall of almost 66 per cent. Looking ahead the mineral sands miner has flagged a possible recovery for rutile which could encourage it to restart production facilities.  
 
Shares in Qube Holdings Limited (ASX:QUB) rallied 3.03 per cent after revealing a record annual result. The diversified logistics and infrastructure company’s net profit jumped 14 per cent to almost $88 million. Qube says accretive acquisitions will continue to support diversification and growth.  
 
Best and worst performers 
 
The best performing sector was industrials, adding 0.7 per cent to close at 4,214.
The worst performing sector was telco services, losing 0.4 per cent to close at 1,988 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Mermaid Marine Australia Limited (ASX:MRM), rising 6.91 per cent to close at $2.32. Shares in Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) and Shares in Santos Limited (ASX:STO) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) after warning its full year financial report will be hit by a one-off impairment charge of about $25 million. Shares in Atlas Iron dropped 8.03 per cent to close at $0.63. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs 
 
QV Equities Limited (ASX:QVE) started trading today. The investment company floated with an issue price of $1.00, opened at $0.97 and closed at $0.965.   
 
Commodities 
 
The price of gold is trading at $US1,280 an ounce, down $33.63 over the week. 
Light crude is $0.33 higher at $US96.40 a barrel. 

Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9322, slightly lower over the week.