EVENING REPORT (4.45pm AEDT)
The Australian share market continued its recent winning streak today, rising 0.5 per cent on the back of positive moves on Wall Street on Friday night and data out of China on the weekend.
The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) gained 27.9 points by close to 5394.8 points.
Shares in the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) were the biggest drag on the financial sector, down 2.2 per cent to $74.35 as the lender traded without rights to its dividend.
In other company news, engineering and property services group UGL Limited (UGL) has reported a 13.5% lift in first half net profit to $29.5 million, and confirmed it may sell its DTZ property business as it tries to rein costs. The company has also stated it expects FY underlying profit to come in at the lower end of guidance. No interim dividend will be paid. UGL shares fell 12 per cent to $6.23.
Australia's fifth biggest bank, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) posted a slightly worse than forecast fall in half year net profit to $180.7 million. Cash earnings rose however, helped by lower funding costs (particularly for term deposits which make up 70 per cent of its loan book). The lender will pay an interim dividend of 31 cents per share. BEN shares today rose 0.5 per cent to $11.78.
Australia's largest freight rail operator Aurizon Holdings (AZJ) saw a 39 per cent drop in first half earnings to $107 million but expects coal haulage to improve in the second half. AZJ shares hit a 52 week high today, closing at $5.19.
In economic news, the national average Australian price of unleaded petrol fell by 0.3 cents per litre to 154.0 cents a litre in the week to February 16.
New car sales fell by 3.5 per cent in January - the first fall in three months.
On the market overall, a total of 1.98 billion shares changed hands, worth $5.1 billion. 556 were up, 423 were down and 368 were unchanged.
It is Presidents' Day in the US tonight which means stock and bond markets will be closed.
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