News: Market Wrap: ASX climbs on rate cut chatter

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    The Australian share market closed 0.66 per cent higher despite a negative lead from Wall Street. Mining and energy stocks have led the way whilst more and more analysts are tipping the RBA will cut interest rates in the bank’s first rate meeting of the year tomorrow. 
    The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 37 points up to finish at 5,625. 
    The value of trades was $4.49 billion on volume of 691 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC).
    On the futures market the SPI is 28 points up.

    Economic news

    The CoreLogic RP Data Home Values Index shows combined capital city house prices continue to rise, up 1.3 per cent in January. Melbourne house prices lead the way up 2.7 per cent, dark horse Hobart posted a 1.6 per cent increase whilst Sydney was also a standout, up 1.4 per cent. Darwin, Adelaide and Perth reported declines over the month. 
    Company news
    Incoming Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) boss Brian Hartzer is stamping his authority on the bank at his first day in the job, scrapping the need for his own previous position . Taking over from the recently retired Gail Kelly, Mr Hartzer has streamlined the bank’s management structure, ditching the Australian Financial Services division which he headed up for the past two and a half years. CEO’s of the Westpac Retail & Business banking, St George Banking Group and BT Financial Group will now report directly to the Group CEO. Mr Hartzer also confirmed David McLean as CEO of Westpac New Zealand. Shares in Westpac closed 1.13 per cent stronger at $34.85.
    Kathmandu Holdings Limited (ASX:KMD, NZX:KMD) said first half results came in lower than expected and declined to provide full year guidance. Group sales of $178.2 million were well below expectations and expected to result in a $1million to $2 million loss in the first half. The company says it has comprehensively planned for upcoming sales campaigns in the second half however it was too early to predict an outcome so it couldn’t provide full year guidance. Shares tanked on the news, ending 27.54 per cent lower at $1.35. 
    Transurban Group Limited (ASX:TCL) has achieved financial close on the $2.6B NorthConnex project to link the M1 and M2 Motorways in Sydney.
    Biotech company Bionomics Limited (ASX:BNO) will undergo further clinical trials of its BNC210 drug for the treatment of anxiety and depression.
    Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) has reported a nearly 2 per cent drop in first half net profit and forecast flat earnings for the full year. 
    And chocolate maker Yowie Group Limited (ASX:YOW) has appointed a North American CEO as it continues its roll-out plans across one of the world’s biggest confectionary markets. 
    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector was utilities adding 1.8 per cent to close at 6,390. The worst performing sector was industrial, losing 0.2 per cent to close at 4,368 points.
    The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Evolution Mining, rising 11.11 per cent to close at $1.00. Shares in Beadell Resources and Drillsearch also closed higher.
    The worst performing stock was the aforementioned Kathmandu. Shares in Southern Cross Media and Arrium also closed lower. 

    Gold is trading at $US1,281 an ounce. Light crude is $3.71 higher at $US48.24 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 77.85 cents
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