Banks give market a lift
The sharemarket has pulled off seven-week lows to finish modestly higher as caution ruled with investors anxious about developments in Europe and the United States.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 8.6 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4388.4, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 6.5 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4410.7.
Among the sectors, financials gained 0.6 per cent and telecommunications added 0.4 per cent, while gold miners fell 1.2 per cent, energy dropped 0.6 per cent and materials shed 0.3 per cent.
Better-than expected earnings results in the US coupled with the receding of fears that Greece is close to default on its loans helped local shares maintain a cautious optimism as investors look for the market to break out of its recent downward trend.
Banks did most of the heavy lifting today with all the big banks posting gains, CBA added 0.7 per cent to $59.09, ANZ jumped 0.6 per cent to $24.20, NAB rose 0.6 per cent to $23.24 and Westpac pushed up 0.2 per cent to $24.85.
Among the miners, Rio Tinto was up 0.3 per cent to $57.85, while rival BHP fell 0.1 per cent to $33.73. Iron ore miner Fortescue jumped 0.8 per cent to $4.
Consumer confidence surged to a 19-month high, with households reacting positively to the Reserve Bank's rate cuts, according to a Westpac and Melbourne Institute survey.
As a result, retail stocks enjoy a small boost, department store David Jones added 0.8 per cent to $2.46, while rival Myer gained 0.3 per cent to $2. Harvey Norman was flat at $1.81 and JB-Hi-Fi jumped 0.8 per cent to $10.18.
‘‘Everyone is quietly hoping this is going to be the good news that takes us into Christmas. However I wouldn’t put my money on it,’’ said market analyst at Wealth Within Janine Cox. ‘‘I’m not convinced that the spending numbers that come out in January is going to be what everyone is hoping for.’’
Webjet suffered greatly today after it warned of ‘‘very low growth levels’’ in the travel sector over recent months, despite issuing guidance of at least 10 per cent increase in profit after tax for this financial year.
‘‘Stocks like [Webjet] really get slammed in a market like this, they’ve been so good, the stock has been really really solid and they’ve been trending up really nicely. Their strategy has been an open one, however in this climate, the market can be quite brutal,’’ said Ms Cox.
Shares in the online travel retailer fell 15 per cent to $3.51.
Media shares performed well today, with Fairfax Media up 4 per cent to 39.5 cents after its sold its portfolio of US rural magazines.
Seven West Media jumped 2.3 per cent to $1.32, Ten Network rose 1.8 per cent to 28 cents, APN added 1.6 per cent to 32 cents and News Corp nudged up 0.3 per cent to $23.60.