Australian Stocks: What Happened Today?


The analyst principally responsible for the production of this research report is: Howard Humphreys, Director & Lead Research Analyst, Seismic Research

ASX breaks through 5,000 as CBA, LEI beat estimates

The ASX 200 surged 0.9% today, breaking through 5,000 and closing at the highest level since September 2008 as earnings from Commonwealth Bank of Australia ((CBA)) and Leighton Holdings ((LEI)) beat estimates.

To today's high of 5,010, the ASX 200 has rallied 25.7% from a low of 3,985 in June 2012 (just nine months ago). CBA rose 2.4% today to close at a record high of $67.11; leading a 1.4% gain for financials after the bank posted a 1% increase in 2H 2012 profit to $3.66 billion on the back of strong results from its retail banking and wealth management divisions.

Leighton, Australia's largest construction company, surged 11% (its biggest gain in almost four years) after reporting a return to full-year profitability after completing two major projects and reducing debt levels.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Nikkei-225 slumped over 1% after the yen rallied overnight as an unidentified G-7 official said the group is concerned about excessive moves in the currency.

To read today's report in PDF in full, see link at the top of this story.

(For a more comprehensive summary of last night's market action see FNArena's Overnight Report.)

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