Local stocks enjoyed a strong rally during Wednesday's trade, thanks to positive momentum out of Europe. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) rose by 29.7pts or 0.7pct to 4535.4.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, May 1, 2012.
Wall Street remained closed again overnight (Tuesday) as Super Storm Sandy bore down on New York City, but all trading will resume on the New York Stock Exchange tonight. It was the first time in 124 years that weather forced the closure of the NYSE for more than one session. Out of interest, the only time trade on the Australian share market has been disrupted for a weather event was on the 9th November, 1984, due to flooding in Sydney.
The National Australia Bank (NAB) today delivered a 22pct drop in full year net profit to $4.08 billion, its first profit drop since the global financial crisis. The result included almost $1 billion in bad debt, restructure and impairment costs in its UK business and was seen as disappointing by the market. NAB´s full year cash profit, which excludes the costs associated with its UK restructure, was $5.43 billion, down slightly from
$5.46 billion last financial year. The NAB has also forecast a challenging year ahead, with CEO Cameron Clyne anticipating demand for loans are likely to remain weak as businesses and consumers remain cautious. The bank declared a fully-franked final dividend of 90 cents per share, up from 88 cents per share at the same time last year. NAB shares today fell 0.4pct to $25.79 while the rest of the banks looked strong. Shares in Westpac (WBC) added 0.7pct to $25.51, while the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) was firmer by 0.8pct to $57.75 and the ANZ (ANZ) was up 0.3pct to $25.45.
Arrium Limited (ARI), the company formerly known as OneSteel, closed down 1.9pct to $0.785 today following a brief spike to $0.85. The steelmaker has rejected a $1.19 billion takeover offer from a consortium of Asian steel companies.
Elsewhere, building companies received a boost on a spike in dwelling approvals in the month of September (up 7.8pct). Shares in Boral Limited (BLD) added 1.1pct to $3.59 while James Hardie (JHX) was firmer by 1.5pct to $9.23 and Fletcher Building (FBU) increased by 1.8pct to $5.58.
A number of companies held their AGMs (Annual General Meetings) today:
The CEO of the ASX (ASX) Elmer Funke Kupper was elected to the board of the wagering and keno operator Tabcorp Limited (TAH). Mr Funke Kupper was CEO of TAH up until June last year. TAH today told shareholders it's hopeful of keeping its exclusive wagering licence in NSW after 2013. TAH shares lost 0.4pct to $2.84.
Over at the Country Road (CTY) AGM, shareholders were told the retailer will continue with its strategy of reduced levels of discounting. CTY shares rarely change hand and closed steady today at $3.25.
JB Hi-Fi (JBH) CEO Terry Smart told shareholders at the discount retailer's AGM that trading conditions in fiscal 2013 remain challenging but he's hopeful new electronic product releases in the lead-up to Christmas will drive sales.
Economic data released today showed a sharp lift in building approvals. Dwelling approvals rose by 7.8 per cent in September after lifting 8.8 per cent in August and slumping 20.2 per cent in July. The lift in approvals was concentrated in NSW in response to a sharp increase in grants for home builders. Renovation approvals by local councils soared by 11.5 per cent in September to six-year highs (record highs in trend terms).
Meanwhile, private sector credit (lending) rose by 0.3 per cent in September after rising by 0.2 per cent in July and August. Annual credit growth eased from 4.1 to 4.0 per cent but the annualised pace in the past four months is closer to 3 per cent.
"The data on new home approvals is encouraging, as is the latest lift in renovations, although offset by another soggy reading on lending. Overall, it is hardly a surprise that financial markets believe a rate cut next Tuesday is a 50:50 proposition," said CommSec Chief Economist Craig James of the data.
The Australian dollar ended the session's trade at US103.77c, £0.6451 and €80.07c.
On the market overall, a total of 1.9 billion shares were traded, worth $4.4 billion. 559 were up, 402 were down and 335 were unchanged.
At 4.45pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures market was at 4503, up 19pts.
Ahead tonight, the Chicago purchasing managers index is due for release in the US. The Dow Futures index is up just four points, suggesting a flat start to trade on the NYSE which hasn't traded since last Friday.
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