Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 5/23/14

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By Tom Piotrowski, CommSec Market Analyst | May 23, 2014 5:08 PM EST

Afternoon Report
(17:00 AEST)

After a volatile week ,the ASX 200 has ended in positive territory, albeit by a small margin of 0.25%. The transformative event of the week was the improved reading on Chinese manufacturing on Thursday which provided the mining sector with a timely fillip following the selling seen at the start of the week. Miners ended lower as a group although this came after the strong gains seen on Thursday. Gold miners were one of the weak spots in the resource sector. St Barbara Limited (SBM), an Australian gold producer and explorers ended down by 2.5 percent after Moody's downgraded the groups credit rating from B3 to Caa1. In its communication with the ASX, SBM said there is no change to its existing debt arrangements as a consequence of the ratings agency's action. 

Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) continued to enjoy buying support rising above KKR's $4.70 bid which was rejected earlier in the week. Press speculation suggested a rival bid from China´s Bright Food could emerge, which was summarily dismissed by the latter. TWE shares ended higher by 4.6 per cent

Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp (FPH) rose by 1 per cent after reporting a record full year net profit .The medical device manufacturer said net profit rose 26 per cent on a 13 per cent rise in operating revenues. The result was driven by rising sales to hospital clinicians and homecare providers.

Cleaning and catering services firm Spotless Group (SPO) returned to the Australian Securities Exchange on Friday. SPO opened at $1.75, 15 cents above their issue price of $1.60, and ended at $1.71 a gain of more than 7 per cent. The group was bought by private equity group Pacific Equity Partners in August 2012 for $720 million.

Looking overseas the mixed Eurozone manufacturing data released yesterday, highlighted the divergence between the Eurozone's economies. Additionally the low rates for Eurozone inflation consolidates the view that European Central Bank will do more to stimulate the economy in June. The pullback in the German manufacturing suggests there are some downside risks to the May German IFO (investor sentiment) released tonight. A softer reading would add to expectations that more ECB stimulus is close at hand, which could be supportive for European stocks.

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