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Miners and upbeat results lift Aust shares

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Published on: Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Australian share market has closed slightly higher on a busy day of company results, with gains in resources stocks and a high-flying performance from Flight Centre fuelling the rise.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose 0.14 per cent to 5,745.5 points.

Citi Global Markets director of equities sales Karen Jorritsma said miners had benefitted from overnight currency movements.

“We are seeing a bit of a recovery in materials following overnight weakness in the US dollar that drove commodity prices higher,” Ms Jorritsma said.

Rio Tinto closed up 3.1 per cent at $66.96, BHP Billiton was ahead 2.2 per cent to $26.60 and Fortescue Metals was one per cent higher at $5.95.

Shares in diversified miner South32 gained five cents to $2.94 after it posted a solid full-year profit of $US1.23 billion ($A1.6 billion) – a result helped by the strong rise in commodity prices over the past year.

The overnight lead from Wall Street was negative, with US President Donald Trump’s threat to let the US government shut down if funding for a Mexican border wall was not forthcoming causing concern.

However Ms Jorritsma said the Australian market concentrated on local movements.

“The reality is in the US markets they’re not overly concerned by Mr Trump’s latest comments; remember they went through the same threats under Obama, so it’s not a new concept,” Ms Jorritsma said of the shutdown issue.

Australian bauxite and aluminium company Alumina lifted first-half net profit to $US136.6 million ($A172.7 million), from $US7.8 million a year ago and its shares finished the day 5.9 per cent higher at $2.15.

Online travel agency Flight Centre rose to a more than three-year high, gaining 10.75 per cent to $49.14 after it posted a six per cent drop in full-year profit but forecast an improvement in margins on the back of an end to “ridiculously” cheap airfares.

Despite oil prices gaining ground, Woodside Petroleum was down 1.5 per cent at $29.30, while peer Oil Search gained 2.5 per cent to $6.87.

Santos was 0.3 per cent higher at $3.47 after cutting its half-year loss to $US506 million ($A640 million) – a turnaround from a $US1.1 billion loss a year ago.

Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was lower against the greenback ahead of the meeting of key world bankers at the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium, as attention turned to the likelihood of US rate rises.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 8.3 points, or 0.14 per cent, to 5,745.5 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index added 9 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 5,801.7 points.

* The September SPI200 futures contract was up 15 points, or 0.26 per cent, at 5,711 points.

* National turnover was 2.6 billion securities traded worth $7 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 78.71 US cents, from 78.92 US cents on Wednesday

* 86.03 Japanese yen, from 86.36 yen

* 66.75 euro cents, from 67.13 euro cents

* 61.51 British pence, from 61.56 pence

* 109.37 NZ cents, from 109.23 NZ cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,287.45 per fine ounce, from $US1,286.15 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.8909pct, from 1.9144pct

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.5836pct, from 2.6226pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* September 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.37 (implying a yield of 2.63pct), from 97.33 (2.67pct) on Wednesday

* September 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 98.03 (1.97pct), from 98.0 (2.0pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)


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