Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 3/21/14

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | March 21, 2014 5:36 PM EST

EVENING REPORT
(5pm AEDT)

The Australian share market recovered somewhat from yesterday's sell-off during Friday's trade following a rebound on Wall Street and strong gains from mining and energy players.


Concerns over America's 'fiscal cliff' has had a knock-on effect upon the markets [Reuters].

The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) added 41.3 points or 0.8 per cent by close to 5354 while the ASX 200 (XJO) was up 44pts or 0.8 per cent to 5338. Over the course of the week, both indices edged higher by just over 0.1 per cent.

In company news, hearing implant maker Cochlear Limited (COH) rose 4.2 per cent to $58.96 after US authorities approved its latest hearing aid. The US Food and Drug Administration gave the thumbs up to the nucleus hybrid L24 which is designed to help people who don't benefit from conventional hearing aids.

Supermarket chain Metcash (MTS) was the biggest drag on the ASX 200, down 9.5 per cent to $2.85 after the company downgraded its earnings guidance and announced a $480 million overhaul of its business. MTS wants to better compete with Coles (owned by Wesfarmers WES) and Woolworths (WOW). The company will fund the capital expenditure by reducing dividend payments to shareholders. It also plans to open new stores and improve its supply chain to reduce costs. WOW shares added one per cent t $35.80 today while WES was up 0.7 per cent to $41.70.

Fairfax newspapers reported wealth management firm AMP Limited (AMP) is considering plans to send back office jobs offshore as part of its efforts to reduce costs. AMP shares added 1.4 per cent today to $4.92.

On the market overall, a total of 2.9 billion shares changed hands, worth $6.4 billion. 515 were higher, 410 were lower and 350 were unchanged.

At 4.30pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5328, up 31 points or 0.6 per cent.

Ahead tonight, the weekly Economic Cycle Research Institute index is released in the US.

Next week, September quarter population figures and December quarter financial accounts are released locally.

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Concerns over America's 'fiscal cliff' has had a knock-on effect upon the markets [Reuters].
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