Major banks lead share market higher

Trevor Chappell
(Australian Associated Press)

The share market has gained ground due to strength among the big four banks, well received earnings reports from and construction firm CIMIC, and a higher price for iron ore.

The major banks led the market higher, and most of the top 20 stocks on the market also performed reasonably well, Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said.

“It might have something to do with what the Reserve Bank said yesterday, that the economy is looking pretty good. That could be a positive for the banks,” he said.

Investors may also be anticipating a good earnings report from Commonwealth Bank next week, Mr Heffernan said.

“The sectors can be infectious, so if one looks alright a lot of them could go up,” he said.

ANZ was the best performer among the banks, up 1.4 per cent.

Shares in and CIMIC soared more than seven per cent, after each reported earnings growth and delivered encouraging outlooks.

A higher iron ore price helped Rio Tinto gain 0.8 per cent, ahead of the release of its annual results, but BHP Billiton fell by a similar amount.

Dreamworld operator Ardent Leisure gained 2.4 per cent as it said its theme parks revenue is recovering after October’s fatal accident and resulting temporary closure, although January’s takings remained low.

Specialty Fashion Group, the owner of Katies and Millers womens’ clothing chains, soared 26 per cent after it received a takeover offer from a Middle Eastern investment company.

Fellow retailer Premier Investments, the owner of Smiggle and Peter Alexander, gained 12 per cent after telling investors its half year underlying earnings will rise by up to 10.6 per cent.

The Australian dollar lost ground against the US dollar, which rose for a fifth straight session to a one-week high.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 29.5 points, or 0.52 per cent, to 5,651.4 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index gained 30.8 points, or 0.54 per cent, to 5,703.4 points.

* The March SPI200 futures contract was up 26 points, or 0.47 per cent, at 5,598 points with 30,636 contracts traded.

* National turnover was 2.2 billion securities traded worth $4.4 billion.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 76.32 US cents, from 76.80 US cents on Tuesday

* 85.72 Japanese yen, from 85.88 yen

* 71.48 euro cents, from 71.68 euro cents

* 61.05 British pence, from 61.60 pence

* 104.66 New Zealand cents, from 104.30 NZ cents


The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEDT was $US1,232.90 per fine ounce, down $US1.06 from $US1,233.96 on Tuesday.


* CGS 5.25 per cent March 2019, 1.794pct, from 1.8pct

* CGS 4.25pct April 2026, 2.627pct, from 2.632pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* March 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.275 (implying a yield of 2.725pct), from 97.27 (2.73pct) on Tuesday.

* March 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.06 (1.94pct), from 98.04 (1.96pct).


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