And that's a wrap...thanks for being with us today, we hope to see you bright and early again tomorrow.
For a round up of what happened today and what's happening tomorrow, here's what you need2know:
- ASX200 finished up 1.3% at 5104.1
- AUD at $US1.0271
- Nikkei up 2.7%, Shanghai up 1.9%, Kospi up 1.1%
- Gold at $US1601.96, WTI oil at $US92.90
- Wall Street futures are up 0.1% and FTSE100 futures are up 0.5%
- Customers before suppliers, says Woolies boss
- Supermarkets drive Woolies profit
- Rio snares former Transurban chief as CFO
- Harvey Norman sees light after profit plunges
- James Packer eyes bet on Sri Lanka
- France - consumer spending and producer prices
- Spain - CPI
- RBA index of commodity prices for February
- China - business sentiment indicator
The Lowy family’s own investment vehicle, run by the eldest son David, is looking to raise close to $665 million through the sale of the family's entire 7 per cent stake in Westfield Retail Trust.
Broking house UBS has been instructed to sell 214.8 million securities in WRT, which is equal to 7 per cent of securities on issue at $3.09 apiece. It is currently being undertaken by way of a fixed price bookbuild.
Former Transurban chief executive Chris Lynch has been named Rio Tinto’s chief financial officer, to take over from long-serving Guy Elliott.
Mr Lynch, a non-executive director of Rio since September 2011, will remain on the board and join Rio’s executive committee.
He was CEO at Transurban from 2008 until 2012 and before that worked as CFO at BHP Billiton for six years and in senior roles at Alcoa for 20 years.
Rio announced in July that Mr Elliott, a 30-year veteran of the company, would retire from the board at the end of 2012.
Retailer Harvey Norman was one of the best performers of the day, adding 9.2 per cent to $2.49 on an optimistic outlook.
IG Markets dealer Chris Weston said Harvey Norman’s upbeat sales growth enticed investors.
‘‘The discretionary sector’s clearly the best performing sector this year,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s been ages since we’ve seen any positive rhetoric coming from that company - they’re always very cautious.’’Back to top
Funds under management in Australia reached $2 trillion at the end of 2012 according to data - Managed Funds Australia - released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.
John Brogden, CEO of the Financial Services Council said: “Today’s announcement is a significant milestone for Australia’s funds management industry which is now the fourth largest in the world.
“We have a world class superannuation system which will continue to grow and support Australians in their retirement and fund managers who have grown Australia’s pool of funds by a massive 665 per cent from $265 billion 20 years ago, to today’s figure of $2 trillion.”
The dollar also rallied today, erasing earlier losses, as traders pared bets the RBA will cut its key interest rate after data showed companies will continue to invest into next year.
‘‘The information in the capital expenditure report is not enough to trigger a rate cut next week,’’ says Annette Beacher, head of Asia-Pacific research at TD Securities.
‘‘The first piece of information was a weaker-than expected December quarter. The second piece of information we noticed was that 2013-14 was stronger than expected. The Aussie seemed to have settled back at a slightly higher level after a violent movement.’’
The dollar added 0.4 per cent to trade at $US1.0278, after earlier falling as much as 0.4 per cent. It touched $US1.0184 yesterday, the lowest since October 10.
Today’s jump was the biggest one-day percentage gain in seven months, as investors were reassured by a smooth Italian debt sale and comments from US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
The Australian market has rallied 9.8 per cent so far this year, supported by receding US and eurozone debt concerns as well as a relatively strong earnings season.
Here's how blue chip stocks went today:
- BHP: +1%
- Rio: +1.6%
- ANZ: +1.6%
- CBA: +1.9%
- NAB: +0.6%
- Westpac: +1.9%
- Fortescue: +2.6%
- Woolworths: +2.7%
- Wesfarmers: +1.3%
- Telstra: -0.4%
- Qantas: +4.8%
For those who are interested, here are the best and worst performers on the ASX200 today:
Back to top
Among the sectors, energy shares surged 2.8 per cent, consumer discretionary jumped 2 per cent, financials rose 1.3 per cent and materials added 1.1 per cent.
Telecommunications bucked the trend, falling 0.4 per cent.
The sharemarket has push back to fresh four-and-a-half year highs. The S&P/ASX200 jumped 67.5 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 5104.1, while the broader All Ords gained 67.3 points, or 1.3 per cent, to 5120.4.
Air New Zealand will consider extending its trans-Tasman alliance with Virgin Australia to include the Pacific Islands when it has to reapply to regulators late this year for a continuation of the existing deal.
Declaring the Kiwi airline in ‘‘growth mode’’ after a solid first-half profit, the new chief executive, Christopher Luxon, said extending the alliance to cover the Pacific Islands was something the two airlines could consider because they both had ‘‘good Pacific Island businesses’’.
‘‘I’m not sure at this stage – that is something we are continuing to discuss,’’ he said.
The two airlines will have to apply for approval in Australia and New Zealand to continue their alliance on trans-Tasman routes by the end of this year.
The federal opposition has warned the builder of Labor’s $37.4 billion national broadband network (NBN) to consider a possible change of government this year before signing any contracts.
The advice given to the government-owned NBN Co was made in the dissenting report of coalition MPs attached to a joint parliamentary committee’s latest review of the network rollout, released today.
Communication Minister Stephen Conroy says it demonstrates the coalition’s plans to demolish the project if it wins government at the September 14 federal election.
The MPs said NBN Co should be aware ‘‘of the need to alter contracts’’ if the government changed, and suggested any deals have the necessary flexibility written into the terms of agreement.
Households have poured $57 billion into deposit accounts in the past year, as consumers continue to take a cautious approach to their finances.
Figures published today show the stock of household deposits continues to grow faster than the value of outstanding loans – despite recent signs of rising consumer confidence.
Households had some $588 billion on deposit with the nation's banks last month, statistics from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority show.
This represents an increase of more than 10 per cent, or $57 billion, on a year earlier.
In a sign that high rates of saving have continued into 2013, deposits in January grew by about $4 billion, or 0.75 per cent.Back to top
Woolworths chief executive Grant O'Brien says the nation's largest supermarket chain will always favour the customer in negotiations with suppliers, amid claims Australia's supermarket duopoly is using predatory and bullying behaviour to squeeze grocery manufacturers.
Mr O'Brien said that competition in Australia was "alive and well" but that as Woolworths sat between the consumer on one side and suppliers on the other it had a "contract" with shoppers to deliver cheaper food prices.
"Our role as retailer is positioned midway between the customer and the producer and it's a balance we play everyday, we have got to make sure we are delivering better value to the customers so they are getting value and increasingly globally comparable value," Mr Grant said this morning in one of his strongest defences of Woolworths since taking on the CEO role in 2011.
Some more on that story showing the RBA thought the dollar was overvalued by as much as 15 per cent last year:
‘‘The RBA is on the edge of a policy dilemma with respect to the currency,’’ says UBS rates strategist Matthew Johnson.
‘‘Substantial further strength, say a move above $1.10, would require further rate cuts, but there is a limit to how far one ought to push such a policy, as it may create financial stability issues a little further down the track.’’
Despite a first half profit slump of 36 per cent, Harvey Norman shares are going strong today, up 6.4 per cent. In fact they've had a pretty solid run in the last few months, as this graphic shows.
The $82 billion Future Fund has decided it will stop investing in tobacco, after a long campaign from anti-smoking groups and the Greens.
The David Gonski-led board has been reviewing this issue for some time, and today it has concluded the health and social costs of smoking were too great. It's a sharp change from the fund's previous position, that the assets did not compromise its policies on sustainability.
At December 31 the fund had investments in 14 tobacco companies, worth $222 million in total.
Treasury Wine Estates, Australia’s largest winemaker, posted first-half profit that beat analyst estimates as rising Asian sales and cost-cutting limited negative currency movements.
Net income rose 31 per cent to $52 million in the six months ended December from $40 million a year earlier, the company said in a statement today.
Better availability of luxury and premium wines over the next six months should support demand for higher-value labels that make up as much as 70 per cent of operating profit, Chief Executive Officer David Dearie told an investor call. Treasury has been buying land and planting new vines to develop higher- margin wines as the strong Australian dollar makes cheaper labels less profitable.
Shares are up 5.5 per cent to $5.17.Back to top