EVENING REPORT (4.30pm AEST)
The Australian sharemarket closed above 5400pts, partly boosted by a slightly better than expected Chinese economic growth. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) jumped 0.6 per cent to 5412.6. On Monday the local market sank to three-week lows. Volume has been subdued due to public holidays.
The average dollar value of shares traded per day this month is $4.1 billion. This is around $1 billion less than the daily average in March. The Australian sharemarket will shut its doors this Friday, next Monday and on Anzac Day.
The mining sector edged higher, helped by a slightly better than expected growth report in China. Our largest trading partner's economy expanded by 7.4 per cent over the past year. Despite this being the slowest pace of growth in about 18 months, it was 0.1 per cent higher than market forecasts. This seemed to help the miners and our dollar gain some ground from around midday.
Industrial production and investment in China rose just shy of expectations while the 12 per cent expansion in retail spending was a little better than forecasts.
Two of Australia's biggest miners, BHP Billiton (BHP) and Fortescue Metals (FMG), released quarterly production updates today. BHP's output rose by 1 per cent in the March quarter, while iron ore production has jumped by 23 per cent over the year. Copper output slipped by 5 per cent. Output for both petroleum products and thermal coal expanded by approximately 10 per cent. BHP has boosted its full year production estimates by 5 million tonnes (mt) to 217mt. BHP shares edged higher by 0.4 per cent; however has surged by 7 per cent since mid-March, thanks to demerger speculation.
Fortescue Metals (FMG) mined 29.6mt of ore in the third quarter (7.5 per cent less than Q2). It shipped 31.5mt (12.5 per cent rise on Q2). FMG shares are down 8 per cent since January. FMG, which sells 98 per cent of its ore to China improved late in trade to finish 1.1 per cent firmer.
Beacon Lighting Group (BLX) rose for the second day, gaining almost 1 per cent. The specialty lighting product retailer made its market debut yesterday, rising by 60 per cent in the process.
Looking ahead, highlights tonight are likely to be related to the U.S. housing sector, factory activity (industrial production), 47 company profit reports in and a talk by U.S. central bank head Janet Yellen later this evening.
By the close of trade, 1.42 billion shares changed hands, worth $3.85 billion. 486 stocks improved, 399 ended lower and 335 were unchanged.
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