The Australian share market has closed higher with most sectors posting gains, led by health care companies, big banks and industrial stocks.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 stock index finished the day up 0.64 per cent at 5,941.6 points, with energy the only sector to close lower.
Shaw & Partners senior private client adviser Craig Sidney said the market’s strength was surprising given US markets are closed for the President’s Day holiday tonight and Chinese markets remain closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Mr Sidney said healthcare and the banks were the main market drivers on Monday after a muted Wall Street performance last Friday but a slew of strong earnings reports from smaller companies added to the positive local sentiment.
Logistics firm Brambles’ half-year profit of $US447.2 million ($A565.65 million) was triple the profit it made a year ago and the company’s performance lifted its shares 1.1 per cent to $9.74.
Health insurer NIB’s first-half net profit was slightly lower than a year ago but it upgraded its full-year profit guidance and NIB shares closed 2.6 per cent higher at $6.60.
Domain Holdings shares climbed 4.5 per cent to $3.00 after the recently listed property listings group reported a 13 per cent rise in underlying revenue thanks to increased earnings from its residential listings.
Shares in SEEK were up 1.9 per cent to $20.50 after the job ads portal lifted first-half profit and tipped full-year profit to be at the upper end of guidance.
And wind farm operator Infigen Energy shares jumped 9.9 per cent to 66.5 cents after it posted a big rise in half-year profit and announced it had a deal to refinance most of its debt.
Mr Sidney said stronger base metal and oil prices have also been a positive for the local market, except for Woodside Petroleum, which was a major drag with its shares tumbling $2.105, or 6.8 per cent, to $28.63 after it resumed trade following an equity raising.
“There has probably been some institutional selling given the placement,” he said.
Elsewhere, health care giants CSL and Cochlear both rose 1.6 per cent to $155.86 and $175.92, respectively, while Ramsay Health Care jumped 2.6 per cent to $68.37.
National Australia Bank led the big four’s gains with a 0.8 per cent lift to $29.46, ANZ rose 0.7 per cent to $28.05, Commonwealth Bank gained 0.5 per cent at $74.40 and Westpac was up 0.4 per cent at $30.34.
There was weakness among the major miners with BHP Billiton down 0.3 per cent and Rio Tinto off 0.6 per cent.
Among the poorer performers were logistics software company GetSwift which resumed trading and dived 55.1 per cent to $1.31 despite a month-long investigation into the company finding it had not breached continuous disclosure obligations.
Myer shares were 5.5 per cent weaker at a new low of 52 cents as its largest shareholder, Solomon Lew, ramped up his attack on the retailer’s board.
Meanwhile, the Australian dollar was steady at 79.17 US cents at 1700 AEDT on Monday, from 79.72 on Friday.
ON THE ASX:
* At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 37.6 points, or 0.64 per cent, at 5,941.6 points.
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 39.2 points, or 0.65 per cent, at 6,044 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 42 points, or 0.72 per cent, at 5,899.
* National turnover was 1.98 billion securities traded worth $4.51 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 79.17 US cents, from 79.72 on Friday
* 84.32 Japanese yen, from 84.34 yen
* 63.80 euro cents, from 63.52 euro cents
* 56.48 British pence, from 56.40 pence
* 107.18 NZ cents, from 107.39 cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1200 AEDT was $US1,346.47 per fine ounce, from $US1,358.19 per fine ounce on Friday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.0176pct, from 2.0186pct
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8328pct, from 2.8696pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* March 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.115 (implying a yield of 2.885pct), from 97.080 (implying a yield of 2.92pct) on Friday
* March 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.84 (2.16pct), from 97.835 (2.165pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEDT previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEDT previous local session)