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Aust share market closes higher

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AAP

2013-01-30

The Australian share market pulled back in late trading but still closed slightly higher, with investors unfazed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard announcing that the next federal election would be on September 14.

On Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 7.7 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 4,896.7 points, and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 8.3 points, or 0.17 per cent, at 4,919.1 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was six points higher at 4,860 points, with 23,552 contracts traded.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said although the local bourse finished higher on Wednesday, investors were now feeling they were in "overbought" territory after a long recent run upwards.

"These markets just look bit over-extended," Mr Shamu said.

"Profit-takers are starting to lock in some gains after what has been a solid month or so."

Mr Shamu said the announcement of the federal election had not had any great effect on the share market on Wednesday.

He said the media sector, which one would expect to benefit from the long lead-up to the poll, had not bounced much.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton jumped 45 cents to $37.62, and Rio Tinto climbed 97 cents to $67.12.

Among the major banks, Westpac was five cents lower at $28.17, National Australia Bank dipped eight cents to $27.64, Commonwealth Bank was off three cents at $64.70, and ANZ advanced seven cents to $26.58.

Among insurance stocks, QBE rose 47 cents to $11.75, Suncorp slipped two cents to $10.68, and Insurance Australia Group was six cents stronger at $4.99.

The estimated cost of floods caused by ex-tropical cyclone Oswald stands at nearly $200 million, as insurers continue to field new claims.

Among other stocks, diversified conglomerate Wesfarmers was 69 cents lower at $38.13 after it lifted sales in all its retail businesses in the first half of the financial year, with the strongest growth coming from Coles and Bunnings.

National airline Qantas was 1.5 cents weaker at $1.50 as Fairfax media reported that a consortium of investors that included former Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon had sold a large line of Qantas shares on January 22.

The price of gold in Sydney was $US1,667.605 per fine ounce, up $US6.31 on Tuesday's closing price of $US1,661.295.

National turnover was 1.93 billion securities worth $3.9 billion, with 491 stocks up, 506 down and 368 unchanged.

AAP tsc/

Trevor Chappell