Australian market just misses new record

The Australian share market has closed higher for a fourth day, with the benchmark index finishing just under a record closing high set three and a half weeks ago.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 27 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 7,130.2, just 2.5 points under the all-time record close of 7,132.7 set on January 22.

The broader All Ordinaries index added 22.5 points, or 0.31 per cent, to finish at 7,227.1, 21.9 points shy of its closing record.

For the week the ASX200 gained 107.6 points, or 1.5 per cent, for its best week in five weeks.

"It definitely is a Valentine's Day present for investors, four days of gains," said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir.

"It's been a great streak that almost made for a closing all-time high for the Aussie market. I'd say investors are definitely pretty happy."

The financial sector did the best, rising 1.3 per cent as all four big banks rose.

Commonwealth Bank gained 2.6 per cent to set a fresh five-year high of $90.99, smashing brokers' price targets of $90 imposed after Australia's biggest bank beat first-half profit expectations on Wednesday.

NAB was up 3.3 per cent to $27.35, Westpac gained 1.1 per cent to $25.70 and ANZ rose 0.7 per cent to $26.61.

Magellan Financial Group gained 3.0 per cent to $73.67 after multiple brokers initiated coverage with a buy recommendation after Thursday's results.

"What's not to love about a fund manager that's actually growing their subscribers? Good news for Magellan on Valentine's Day," Ms Amir said.

Fellow fund managers Pinnacle, Navigator Global and Australian Ethical were all up as well, by between 3.6 and 5.4 per cent.

Baby Bunting dropped 5.3 per cent to $3.60 after the specialist baby goods retailer increased first-half profit only slightly.

Hand and surface sanitiser manufacturer Zoono gained 8.8 per cent - and 55 per cent on the week - on hopes that the coronavirus outbreak was increasing demand for its antimicrobial products.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP gained 0.3 per cent to $38.65 while Rio Tinto dropped 0.4 per cent to $97.65 and Fortescue Metals dropped 0.5 per cent to $10.99.

Goldminers were generally down, with Newcrest falling 3.6 per cent and Northern Star down 1.3 per cent, although Evolution rose 3.2 per cent.

The energy sector was the biggest loser, down 1.2 per cent as Woodside Petroleum dropped 2.7 per cent and Beach Energy dipped 1.4 per cent.

FAR dropped 8.8 per cent to 3.1 cents after the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce ruled against FAR and in favour of Woodside in relation to the sale of a stake in a $6 billion Senegal oil and gas project.

The Australian dollar was buying 67.18 US cents, up from 67.16 US cents as the market closed on Thursday.

Looking forward, next week is also a busy week for earnings results, with BHP, Coles, Wesfarmers, Nearmap, Qantas and Coca-Cola Amatil among the companies reporting.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index finished Friday up 27 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 7,130.2 points.

* The All Ordinaries closed up 22.5 points, or 0.31 per cent, at 7,227.1 points.

* The SPI200 futures index closed up 37 points, or 0.53 per cent, at 7,066 points.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 67.19 US cents, from 67.16 US cents on Thursday

* 73.75 Japanese yen, from 73.77 yen

* 62.01 euro cents, from 61.78 cents

* 51.51 British pence, from 51.85 pence

* 104.46 NZ cents, from 104.17 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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