EVENING REPORT (5pm AEDT)
The Australian share market made it five wins in a row today, closing at its highest level since mid -January on the back of positive gains on Wall Street, positive Chinese economic data and solid earnings results.
The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) added one per cent to close at 5319 points, its best finish since the 22nd January.
Chinese exports rose by 10.6 per cent over the year to January while imports rose by 10 per cent. The trade surplus widened from US$25.6 billion to US$31.9 billion.
In company news, property group Stockland (SGP) has swung back into the black, posting a first half profit of $298 million, up from a loss of $147 million in the prior period. Shareholders will receive a final distribution of 12 cents per security to be paid on 28th February. SGP shares outperformed today, rising 4.8 per cent to $3.90.
The world's largest shareholder services company, Computershare (CPU) recorded a better than expected rise in half year profit to US$163.6m. A jump in market activity and cost efficiencies helped lift earnings. CPU shares rose 6.4 per cent to $11.80.
Biopharmaceutical company CSL Limited (CSL) reported a small rise in first half net profit to US$646 million helped by strong sales of its immunity boosting medicines. CSL shares fell 3 per cent today to $67.75.
In economic news, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute index of consumer confidence fell by 3.0 per cent to a 9-month low of 100.2 points in February. A reading above 100 still represents an optimistic consumer outlook.
On the market overall, a total of 2.1 billion shares changed hands, worth $5.9 billion. 580 were up, 380 were down and 349 were unchanged.
At 4.45pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5263, up 60 points.
The Australian dollar ended stronger at US90.58c.
Ahead tonight, weekly mortgage data and monthly Federal Budget figures are issued in the US.
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