Australian Stock Market Report – Afternoon August 21, 2014

By @ibtimesau on
New York Stock Exchange
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York July 14, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SOCIETY)

Shares hit fresh 6-year highs for third day

 The winning streak continued with shares hitting fresh six-year highs, rising for a third day and remaining above the key 5600pt level. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) improved by a modest 0.1 per cent despite mixed performances from global markets overnight. The US economy expanded at a faster than expected 4 per cent annual pace in the June quarter, while comments by the US central bank relating to inflation has increased the market's expectations of an earlier rate rise. The default of Argentina's economy, while worrisome didn't have a significant impact on global sharemarkets today.

 Weakness from the energy sector, the miners, industrials and utilities held the market back today.

 Mining stocks were the biggest drag, with less than impressive quarterly reports from a number of companies in the sector not helping. Rare earth minerals company, Lynas (LYC) fell by 17 per cent after it disappointed investors with continued cashflow problems. LYC is down 42 per cent this calendar year.

 $170 million renewable energy business, Infigen Energy (IFN) finished flat after delivering a 1 per cent rise in production but a 3 per cent slide in revenue over the past three months.

 Australia's biggest iron ore producer and one of the world's largest miners Rio Tinto (RIO) rose by close to 0.5 per centand announced the offloading of its underperforming Mozambique coal assets for a discounted $50 million.

 Oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum (WPL) fell 0.84 per cent ahead of a vote tomorrow on its planned $2.7bn buyback from Shell. The vote is expected to go down to the wire.

 The telcos ended higher, with the country's sixth biggest firm Telstra (TLS) hitting a 13-year high intra-day. TLS will trade ex-dividend on 27 August. TLS is up 10 per cent from the lows hit in March this year. Consistent earnings and a healthy dividend yield have made the telco attractive to investors in recent years. TLS is improving for the fourth straight year.

 2.3bn shares were traded today, worth $4.79bn. 511 stocks ended higher, 472 finished lower and 378 were unchanged.

 On the economic front, lending lifted to a five year high, the volatile building approvals read was down 5 per cent this month and import prices fell 3 per cent. Tonight, a report on Europe's unemployment rate will be released while weekly jobless claims will be a highlight in the U.S. Last week's reading on unemployment benefits was the best in eight years.

Chinese data tomorrow and US non-farm payrolls will be in focus.

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