Afternoon Report (16:30 AEST)
The ASX 200 saw a day of consolidation on Thursday ending the session higher by 14 points having seen a 25 point deficit at the lows of the day. There is little on the calendar that is likely to have a lasting impact on the markets until Fed Chair Yellen speaks later tonight local time. Ms Yellen is expected to stick to the recent script which has described, the ongoing slack in the labour market that will require monetary policy to remain accommodative even as the US economic recovery gathers momentum.
Miners were flat as a group although nickel prices were in focus. Base metals finished mostly higher in the last day, while nickel bucked the trend falling almost %, reversing some of the gains made in the last week which saw the metal rise by 15% on supply concerns after Vale's 40ktpa nickel plant in New Caledonia has remained suspended after an accidental spill closed the plant on 7 May. Nickel miner WSA ended the session lower by 3.3%
Sydney Airport(SYD) announced traffic numbers for April which saw strong growth in international traffic in April with growth of 6.6%. Growth in most key international markets and Australian outbound travel was the key driver of the result. International traffic continues to be driven by strong Chinese passenger growth which rose by 13.8% compared the prior corresponding period. UK, Hong Kong and Indian nationals contributed to the performance, increasing 12.2%, 54.1% and 18.6% respectively. The growth in the Indian market was due to Air India's new services. The Malaysian nationality market grew by 25.2%, primarily due to the additional daily frequencies from Air Asia X and Malaysia Airlines. Additionally at its AGM today Sydney Airport announced its 30 June 2014 distribution of 11.5 cents per stapled security. The securities will trade ex-entitlement on the 26th June 2014 with an estimated payment date on or around 15 August 2014. SYD ended the session flat at $4.40.
Grain handler Graincorp (GNC) said that its first half net profit fell 43 per cent to $50 million for the six months to the end of March. Falling grain volumes because of drought was the main driver of the result. Additionally the result was affected by $11 million in significant items associated with its oils business. However the underlying net profit , adjusted for significant items, fell 44 per cent to $61 million. Revenues fell 13 per cent to $2 billion. Notwithstanding the fall in profit, the group maintained a fully-franked interim dividend of 15 cents a share. GNC shares ended higher by 0.78 per cent at $9.00.
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