The Australian sharemarket rose modestly today, with concerns relating to Syria put on the backburner briefly. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) edged higher by 0.1 per cent, with the underperforming (yesterday) mining & energy stocks leading the improvements.
The profit reporting season will really be winding down from tomorrow; however we heard from some big names today. Australia's biggest airline, Qantas (QAN) announced a $250m improvement in its annual profit to $6m. A slow but steady improvement in its underperforming international airline business helped the result. No dividend was announced. QAN shares jumped by 13.8 per cent (by far its best improvement of 2013).
Westfield (WDC), the owner and operator of 100 shopping centres in five countries delivered a 35 per cent fall in half year profit to $515. The bottom line was held back by higher financing costs and property valuations in the previous year. A 25.5cps interim dividend was announced. WDC shares slipped by 0.72 per cent.
Ramsay Healthcare (RHC), the country's largest private hospital operator announced a 15.1 per cent rise in FY13 profit to $290.9m. A 41.5cps fully-franked dividend was declared. The expectation of a 12-14 per cent rise in profit this year was announced. That helped push its shares up 5.3 per cent.
On the economic front, there was a bigger than expected rise in business investment between April and June. This driven by a healthy lift in mining investment. New home sales fell by 4.7 per cent in July.
By the close, 1.85bn shares changed hands, worth $5.03 billion. 434 stocks were higher, 481 lower and 329 flat.
In Europe tonight, Germany takes centre stage. The monthly change in German unemployment together with a reading on CPI (consumer inflation) will be the highlights. A 10-y bond auction is being held in Italy.
In the US, preliminary quarterly economy growth (GDP) will be issued. Annualised growth stands at 1.7 per cent. There are three separate estimates of growth - advance, prelim and final. The weekly numbers on US jobless benefits will also be issued together with a talk by Federal Reserve member Bullard.
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