Market Wrap: ASX rises amid earnings & dividends

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 0.2 per cent higher following positive offshore leads and a number of local earnings reports. Companies trading ex-dividend weighed on the benchmark throughout the session and inhibited the day’s gains. Australia’s biggest telco Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) dragged as both traded ex-dividend. The falls impacted telco services and energy sectors, offsetting gains across the broader bourse as health and mining stocks surged ahead.  
 
Figures 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 14 points to close at 5,651. 
 
The value of trades was $5.44 billion on volume of 837 million shares at the close of trade.

The top three stocks by value were Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS), Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) and BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 30 points higher. 
 
Economic news
 
Construction work done dropped more than double the expected amount over the second quarter. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports total construction work fell 1.2 per cent to $51.93 billion in the June quarter and is now 0.6 per cent lower year-on-year. 
 
Reporting season results
 
Kerry Stokes’ led Seven Group Holdings Limited (ASX:SVW) has reported an annual profit drop for the 2014 financial year while Seven West Media Limited (ASX:SWM) has rebounded to an annual profit. Investment company Seven Group saw its net profit drop 46 per cent on the back of lower commodity prices impacting demand. Media company Seven West Media’s net profit grew after the last 2013 financial year’s result was impacted by writing down the value of its magazine assets. Shares in Seven West Media slipped 1.73 per cent to close at $1.99. Shares in Seven Group Holdings dipped 0.53 per cent to close at $7.53. 
 
Worleyparsons Limited (ASX:WOR) has posted a full year profit fall but spruiked a positive outlook after improving its margins. The mining services firm saw its annual net profit decline 23 per cent while revenue rose 8.5 per cent. WorleyParsons has cut 1700 jobs over the last year and looking ahead says it remains confident about its diversified operations. Shares in Worleyparsons lifted 4.07 per cent to close at $17.88. 
 
Shares in Westfield Corporation (ASX:WFD) gained 1.47 per cent after the shopping centre owner revealed interim results achieved over the period it restructured and affirmed its dividend forecast for the second half. 
 
Shares in Healthscope Limited (ASX:HSO) dropped 1.76 per cent after the private hospital operator narrowed its annual net loss to $19.3 million, also improving the figure from its prospectus guidance. 
 
Shares in Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) fell 1.3 per cent after the coal miner trimmed its annual loss by 57 per cent, aided by lowering costs and improving its operational performance. 
 
Shares in BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) rose 0.35 per cent after the iron ore miner reported a 51 per cent jump in its annual profit and stated its confidence in robust Chinese ore consumption. 
 
Best and worst performers 
 
The best performing sector was health care, adding 0.7 per cent to close at 15,561.
The worst performing sector was telco services, losing 3.3 per cent to close at 1,933 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Steadfast Group Limited (ASX:SDF), rising 14.8 per cent to close at $1.59. Shares in Beadell Resources Limited (ASX:BDR) and Veda Group Limited (ASX:VED) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG), dropping 9.48 per cent to close at $0.53. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

8Common Limited (ASX:8CO) started trading today. The software solutions developer floated with an issue price of $0.25, opened at $0.28 and closed at $0.27.    
 
Commodities
 
Gold is trading at $US1,284 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.51 higher at $US93.83 a barrel. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9325.