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Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 2/14/2013

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | February 14, 2013 6:50 PM EST

MARKET CLOSE
(4.30pm AEDT)

Local stocks performed well again today, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) closing at its highest level since April 2011 and the ASX200 (XJO) at its best level since September 8, 2008.

The XAO was up 32.7pts to 5057.2 while the ASX200 closed at 5036.9, up 33.2pts.

Shares in the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) eased a little after performing strongly yesterday in the wake of its first half result. CBA closed at $66.90, down 0.3pct, the worst out of the big four today.

Rio Tinto (RIO) will report full year numbers at 5pm AEDT with the market anticipating a profit in excess of US$9B. RIO shares added 2.3pct today to $72.07.

Perth based conglomerate Wesfarmers (WES) today posted a 9.3pct rise in first half net profit, with earnings growth at its Coles supermarkets helping to drive the result. Revenue rose 3pct in the period to $30.6B. The headline net profit of $1.29B was slightly below expectations, however the strong result from Coles and WES´s other businesses impressed. Pre-tax profit at its Coles supermarkets was up 15pct to $755M, three times the rate of revenue growth. Its home improvement business Bunnings delivered pre-tax earnings of $518M, up 6.8pct and slightly ahead of forecasts; while Kmart also outperformed in the period. Target saw a 20pct drop in 1H earnings to $148M. WES also operates three coal mines. Pre-tax earnings at its Resources division were down 62.8pct in the period. The Industrial and Safety division also missed expectations. WES will pay a fully franked interim dividend of 77cps. Its share price rose to the highest level since December 2007 following the result, up 1.2pct to $38.88.

David Jones (DJS) today announced second quarter total sales fell 1.4pct and that it will stop selling DVDs, games and music as those categories underperform. DJS shares fell 0.4pct to $2.67 while Myer (MYR) was lower by 1.1pct to $2.65.

Alumina (AWC) shares rose 7.5pct to $1.29 today after the Chinese investment firm CITIC took up a 13pct stake for $425M which will help Alumina pay down debt.

Engineering firm Downer EDI (DOW) reported an 11pct in 1H net profit to $94M, while underlying profit rose 24pct to $105.5M. DOW also forecast a FY profit $210M and will pay an interim dividend of 10c per share. DOW did not pay a dividend this time last year. Its share price rose 7.8pct to $5.24.

There was no major economic data released today and the Australian dollar ended the day's session at US103.51c, £0.667 and €77.06c.

On the market overall, a total of 1.8 billion shares were traded, worth $5.9 billion. 519 were up, 495 were down and 344 were unchanged.

At 4.45pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 4993pts, up 37.

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