ASX finishes up after sharp early losses

The volatile Australian share market has swung from an early 102-point loss to finish in the green with a 19-point gain.

After being down as much as 1.8 per cent in the first hour of trade, the S&P/ASX200 benchmark index finished Wednesday up 18.9 points, or 0.35 per cent, to 5,421.9 points, while the All Ordinaries index closed up 16.4 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,513.7.

"What a turnaround," said Bell Direct market analyst Jessica Amir.

"Crazy, right? Really good, really, really good. It was a fantastic turnaround."

Ms Amir attributed the rebound to US futures pointing to gains on Wall Street and traders digesting a detailed quarterly earnings report from Commonwealth Bank.

CBA shares initially dipped but closed 1.9 per cent higher at $60.85 after Australia's second-biggest company by ASX capitalisation reported $1.3 billion in cash profit for the third quarter.

"It was really telling of how resilient this company is," Ms Amir said of CBA. "It's in a stronger position than it's ever been before."

Among the other big banks, NAB was up 0.8 per cent to $15.64, Westpac gained 0.5 per cent to $15.31 and ANZ was up 0.4 per cent to $15.56.

Overall, the day was mixed with four of the ASX's 11 official sectors declining, six advancing and consumer staples flat.

Property trusts were the laggards, collectively declining 2.2 per cent as Westfield mall owner Scentre Group fell 3.6 per cent and office tower owner Dexus declined 3.0 per cent.

GPT Group fell 2.0 per cent to $4.02 after announcing that more than half the shops at its shopping centre were trading this week while residential property developer Stockland declined 1.1 per cent to $2.69 after announcing it was cautious about the market recovery.

Large companies outdid smaller ones, with the ASX20 index of Australia's 20 biggest companies gaining 0.7 per cent and the Small Ordinaries Index of 100 small cap companies declining 0.4 per cent.

Afterpay closed at its highest level ever, $43.46, up 4.3 per cent on the day and 48.4 per cent on the year.

Goldminers did well as the price of the precious metal moved back up over $US1,700 an ounce, with Newcrest, Northern Star and Saracen all up between 1.4 and 1.6 per cent.

Iron ore giant Fortescue Metals rose 3.9 per cent to $12.18 while BHP gained 0.9 per cent to $31.01 and Rio Tinto rose 1.4 per cent to $83.72.

Lithium miner Pilbara Mineral was the biggest ASX200 gainer, rising 11.9 per cent to 23.5 cents.

Regional Express airline soared 32.2 per cent to $1.19 after announcing it would decide within eight weeks whether it would launch domestic operations between major cities in Australia next year following Virgin Australia entering voluntary administration.

One Australian dollar was buying 64.69 US cents, up from 64.70 US cents at the close of trade on Tuesday.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed Wednesday up 18.9 points, or 0.35 cent, at 5,421.9 points

* The All Ordinaries closed up 16.4 points, or 0.3 per cent, at 5,513.7 points

* At 1740 AEST, the SPI200 futures index was down 31 points, or 0.55 per cent, at 5,394 points

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 64.69 US cents, from 64.76 US cents on Tuesday

* 69.24 Japanese yen, from 69.70 yen

* 59.71 euro cents, from 59.89 cents

* 52.75 British pence, from 52.51 pence

* 107.73 NZ cents, from 106.49 cents.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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