Local share market shakes off losses to post first gain of 2016

The Australian share market has posted its first gain for the new year, breaking a run of eight straight losses.

Better-than-expected Chinese trade data drove a late afternoon rally that left the ASX200 1.3 per cent higher at 4,987.

The broader All Ordinaries index climbed 59 points to 5,042, driven by the banks.

Westpac's 2.2 per cent gain led the big four banks, while NAB's 1.2 per cent rise disappointed.

Regional banks also rallied strongly, with Bank of Queensland up 3 per cent.

Diversified services contractor Spotless Group surged 15 per cent to nearly $1.10 after its chief executive bought shares in the company.

Electronics retailers JB Hi-Fi and Harvey Norman both continued to benefit from rival Dick Smith's demise, surging around 5 per cent each.

Oil and gas also rose — perhaps surprisingly given that West Texas crude last night broke the $US30 a barrel barrier for the first time in 12 years.

It closed at $30.37, while Brent rallied a little in Asian trade to $31.02.

Embattled energy firms Santos and Origin jumped 5.4 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively.

The most notable loser on the market was BHP Billiton.

It dropped more than 1.5 per cent to $14.77 — its first close below $15 since 2004.

Its Brazilian rival, and Samarco joint-venture partner, Vale has just announced that it will tap $3 billion from credit lines to help provide operating cash.

That is a worrying sign of distress from one of the big three iron ore producers.

Iron ore prices were lower at $US40 a tonne, but Chinese trade data showed demand rising in December with imports at a record high.

Gold continued a three-day decline to finish at $US1,085 an ounce, with the Australian dollar rebounding on the general optimism.

It is worth 70.25 US cents, 64.9 euro cents and 83.1 Japanese yen.

Source: ABC News

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