The Australian sharemarket finished a touch lower, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) slipping by just 0.1 per cent or 4 pts. Continued concerns of Fed tapering in QE is still keeping investors on edge in the US, with the DOW slipping by 0.75 per cent.
Tim Wimborne / Reuters
People look at market display indicators through the window of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney
On a positive note, Australian stocks have improved for seven of the past eight weeks. Some European markets are up for five straight days, with the euro zone technically crawling out of its 18 month recession (jobs still a problem). Asian markets are also enjoying their longest winning streak in six weeks. There were public holidays in South Korea and India.
The mining sector did most of the heavy lifting today, helped by the second biggest company on the local market, BHP Billiton (BHP) which jumped by 1.2 per cent. Underperforming gold producer, Newcrest Mining (NCM) had a good day and rose by 1.26 per cent.
It was another busy day on the profit reporting front today, with Wesfarmers (WES), AMP, Primary Healthcare (PRY) and Goodman Group (GMG), some of the bigger names to issue results. WES, the owner of Coles, Target, Kmart and a few coal mines delivered a 6 per cent rise in full year profit to $2.26 billion. The result was driven by Coles and an outperforming Kmart. Target and its coal mining operations continued to disappoint. WES fell by 1.6 per cent today.
Wealth manager, AMP rose by 3.5 per cent after delivering a 5.4 per cent jump in half year profit to $393 million.
Primary Healthcare (PRY) couldn't add to its 25 per cent improvements since January this year and slumped by 2.9 per cent despite issuing a 28.7 per cent rise in full year profit to $150.1 million.
On the economic front, a reading on Average Weekly Earnings by the Bureau of Statistics showed that the gap between male and female earnings is showing no signs of closing. Men are earning (on average) around $13,000 more than women each year.
At the close, 1.8 billion shares changed hands, worth $5.6 billion. 456 stocks were higher, 421 fell and 328 finished unchanged. The expiry of index options today boosted trading value.
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