The modest improvements recorded at midday were built on in the afternoon, with shares closing at intra-day highs. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) jumped by 0.8 per cent, the fourth improvement for the week and pushing the XAO back above 5100pts.
Tim Wimborne / Reuters
People look at market display indicators through the window of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney
Here were the moves by sector this week on the local sharemarket. Consumer staples rose by 3.5 per cent, utilities gained 3.8 per cent, healthcare stocks were up 1.4 per cent, the miners gained 0.84 per cent, while the energy players ended largely flat. The consumer discretionaries, industrials and financials were the worst weekly movers.
The end of the profit reporting season has essentially arrived. This is a sad time for some and a joyous one for some analysts around the country who have been working late to make sense of half year and annual profit results.
Over the week, we heard from the likes of Woolworths (WOW), Flight Centre (FLT), Virgin Australia (VAH), Westfield (WDC) and Billabong (BBG). WOW recorded a 24 per cent rise in FY13 profit to $2.26bn. Its earnings were driven by a solid result from its core supermarket division. FLT announced a 23 per cent rise in FY13 profit to $246.1m & is expecting another strong year. WDC recorded a 35 per cent slide in profit to $515m. BBG posted an $860m loss for the year due to large write-downs & one-offs. BBG shares fell by 27 per cent this week, FLT up 7.7 per cent, VAH slipped by 3.1 per cent, WOW jumped 6.2 per cent and QAN had its best day in 7 years yesterday.
At the close, 1.91 billion shares changed hands, worth $6.67 billion. 590 stocks finished higher, 384 were weaker and 307 ended unchanged.
It was a busy day in Japan. Inflation rose by a more than expected 0.7 per cent over the year, the unemployment rate eased a touch to 3.8 per cent, while household spending jumped by a less than forecast 0.1 per cent over the past 12 months. Japan's Nikkei fell by 0.53 per cent today, taking the losses for the week to 1.5 per cent.
Tonight in the US, a monthly reading on the confidence levels of American consumers will be the highlight. Rising US rates might be creating concerns, despite some signs of improvement across the US economy late in the week.
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