market wrap for today

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    Australian Stock Index Posts Biggest Gain in 2 1/2 Years
    Oct. 31 (Bloomberg)

    The S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 76.7, or 1.8 percent, to 4459.70 at the 4 p.m. close in Sydney. It was the biggest one-day gain since March 18, 2003. About nine stocks rose for every one that fell.

    The S&P/ASX 200 fell 3.9 percent this month, the biggest monthly drop since Feb. 2003.

    BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto Group led the advance.

    New Zealand's NZX 50 Index rose 0.7 percent to 3293.16 at the close in Wellington. Telecom Corp., which accounts for a quarter of New Zealand's index, gained.

    Sydney - Monday - October 31: (RWE Aust Business News) -

    The Australian sharemarket rose sharply today, led by stocks that have exposure to the US economy following Wall Street's 173-point advance at week's end.

    The All Ordinaries index - which dropped almost 49 points on Friday - finished 72.2 points in front at the day's high of 4412.7, while the ASX200 index climbed 76.7 points to 4459.7 - also the day's best.

    On the economic front the Reserve Bank said private sector credit rose 0.8 per cent in September, and is up 13.3 per cent for the year.

    In futures the December SPI200 contract rose 74 points to 4457.

    Trading was busy with turnover of $2.6 billion, comprising 657 rises, 363 falls and 290 steadies.

    BHP Billiton was the day's busiest stock by value with trading worth $267 million, and rose 65c to $20.75.

    Rio Tinto climbed $1.37 to $56.31, Alumina put on 6c to $5.79, Newcrest Mining jumped 58c to $18.20 and Lihir Gold surged 6.5c to $1.75.

    Among the banks National rose 32c to $33, ANZ improved 36c to $23.55, Westpac gained 37c to $20.75 and Commonwealth was up 38c at $38.88.

    Macquarie Bank advanced $1.17 to $64.67 but St George disappointed with a 30c fall to $27.24 after reporting a 15 per cent rise in full-year net profit to $828 million.

    AMP rose 7c to $7.29, QBE gained 30c to $17.80, IAG jumped 12c to $5.18, Lend Lease put on 8c to $13.62, Bluescope Steel rose 20c to $8.47, Sims Group advanced 36c to $16.90, James Hardie soared 41c to $8.49, Rinker gained 42c to $15.06, Telstra added 3c to $4.21, PBL rose 14c to $16.12, WA Newspapers improved 26c to $7.97, Tabcorp was 18c higher at
    $16, Aristocrat Leisure rose 31c to $11.61, Leighton surged 64c to $15.25, Brambles was 12c firmer at $8.45, Woolworths climbed 33c to $16.33, Lion Nathan advanced 20c to $7.89, Mayne Group jumped 9c to
    $5.22, Cochlear gained $1.48 to $37.98 and Ansell soared 47c to $10.52.

    Orica rose 21c to $19.12 and touched $19.44 after announcing the sale of its Qenos division - 50 per cent owned with Exxon Mobil - to China National Chemical Corporation.

    Also in the news was AGL which soared 64c to $15.14 and hit a record $15.34 after reporting it plans to demerge into retail and infrastructure divisions and that it will acquire Southern Hydro for $1.43 billion.

    Flight Centre slumped 83c to $11.50 in continued selling
    following its 21 per cent drop in first-quarter operating profit.

    Energy stocks rallied with Woodside Petroleum advancing 80c to $31.60, Santos climbed 24c to $11, Caltex improved 26c to $20.32 and Origin Energy rose 27c to $6.72.

    In Tokyo the Nikkei was down 211 points at 13,557 points while Hong Kong's Hang Seng had lost 110 points to 14,326 by the mid-session interval.

    New Zealand's NZSE50 fell 22.4 points to 3293.2.

    Gold is worth $US471.65 oz and the Australian dollar is fetching US74.96c.

    Ten-year bond yields were steady at 5.48 per cent.

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