Thursday 8 Feb Share market off to slow start despite mining stocks boost

The Australian share market has seen a slow start to the week with several Asian markets closed this week for the Lunar New Year.

Stocks dropped around 1 per cent at the open, after poor leads from Wall Street, but recovered much of those losses midway through the session, buoyed by gains for mining and utility stocks.

Volumes were light with traders in mainland China, Hong Kong and Singapore taking a break for the new year.

The All Ordinaries index lost 4 points to close at 5,022 and the ASX 200 index finished 1 point lower at 4,975.

Mining stocks saw a boost from strength in iron ore and gold prices — gold miner Newcrest added 3.7 per cent to $15.52 and Rio Tinto gained 2.2 per cent to $42.53.

Meanwhile, the big four banks all lost ground with ANZ faring the worst on a loss of 1.5 per cent to $23.73.

The online payment service Ozforex slumped 42 per cent to $1.79 after it ended takeover talks with the international money transfer giant Western Union. Ozforex also cut its earnings forecasts.

The port and rail operator Asciano has backed an increased takeover bid from a consortium led by Qube.

The freight terminal operator sweetened offer values Asciano at $9.24 a share.

Rival bidder Brookfield Infrastructure now has five days to match Qube's offer.

Asciano shares closed 2.4 per cent higher at $9.10 and Qube finished unchanged at $2.20.

Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi dipped 0.5 per cent to $22 after posting a 7.5 per cent increase in half-year net profit to $95.2 million.

JB Hi-Fi also boosted its full-year sales forecasts.

Ansell shares jumped 7.3 per cent after the gloves and condoms maker announced a 21 per cent fall in half-year profit.

Last week, Ansell cut its full-year earnings forecast by almost 10 per cent, blaming weaker customer orders.

And Broadspectrum, formerly known as Transfield Services, rose 3.7 per cent to $1.26 after boosting its full-year profit forecast.

The latest ANZ Job Advertisements Series shows job listings rose by 1 per cent in January, putting the yearly rate of growth at 10.8 per cent.

Online job ads, which make up the bulk of listings, rose by 1.1 per cent, while those in newspapers fell by 3.2 per cent.

ANZ said the trends in job ads and other data suggest the labour market is strong enough to keep the unemployment rate steady this year.

The Australian dollar was higher against most major currencies at 5:00pm (AEDT), buying 71 US cents and fetching 63.8 euro cents, 83.4 Japanese yen and 48.9 British pence.

In commodities, spot gold was buying $US1,166 an ounce, West Texas crude was buying $US30.81 a barrel and Tapis crude was buying $US35.01 a barrel.

Source: ABC News

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