Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon 2/26/14

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Local shares held on to modest gains by the close, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) rising by 3pts or a little less than 0.1 per cent. The energy sector surged, while the miners were the biggest drag on trade.

The resource sector slumped by 1.2 per cent today, with BHP Billiton (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue Metals (FMG) all sliding sharply. Keep in mind that the mining industry has surged by around 6 per cent since the start of this month.

The earnings season is winding down this week; as week four tends to be one of the quieter weeks of the season. Westfield (WDC), Lend Lease (LLC), Flight Centre (FLT) and Sydney Airport (SYD) issued earnings today however. Further details can be found

Global property developer Lend Lease (LLC) posted a 16.4 per cent slide in half year profit to $251.6m. The result was impacted by a fall in revenue from its development unit and a 26 per cent slump in operating profit locally. LLC pre-sold 1,200 units; including 159 apartments at Sydney's Barangaroo South development (sold in 3.5 hours). Development profit slumped by $75.4m; partly due to income in the previous half which included earnings from the first two commercial towers at Barangaroo.

Flight Centre (FLT) increased its first half profit by close to 21 per cent between July-December 2013. The travel agent improved sales, productivity and expanded its network. FLT's Australian business contributed most to earnings. A $0.55 per share dividend was declared, payable to eligible investors on 17th April.

Sydney Airport rose by 2.8 per cent after announcing a 7.3% rise in EBIT to $910 million from $848 million previously. The result was ahead of the market's forecasts. The last 12 months have seen SYD accomplish a number of milestones, including the acquisition of minorities; increasing its ownership in Sydney Airport to 100 per cent.

AGL Energy Limited (AGK) posted a $261m first half profit, which was below market expectations, AGK shares slipped by 0.2 per cent. Warm weather over winter held back the result. AGK expects a more favourable result in the second half. AGL will pay out an interim dividend of $0.30 per share on the 4th April

At the close, 2.18b shares were traded, worth $5.6bn. 470 stocks finished higher, 526 ended in the red and 352 closed unchanged.

Looking ahead, there are a number of reports scheduled to be released tonight. The U.K's quarterly growth reading together with investment and a German consumer confidence report will be highlights in Europe. In the U.S., new home sales for January and an update on crude oil inventories will also demand some attention and can impact oil prices.

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