Billabong makes a splash as stocks enjoy bumper month

Struggling surfwear company Billabong has gone from being the second-biggest loser on the sharemarket in the past financial year to its best performer in July, following a $294 million refinancing deal.

Struggling surfwear company Billabong has gone from being the second-biggest loser on the sharemarket in the past financial year to its best performer in July, following a $294 million refinancing deal.

Shares in the company, which had seen its market value slump after a series of failed takeover talks, soared by 170 per cent to 40.5¢ in July - a bumper period for shares after two months of declines.

The sharemarket rebounded strongly in July, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index finishing the month 5.2 per cent higher, its best monthly gain since October 2011. It eased by 2.52 per cent in June and 5.1 per cent in May.

The broader All Ordinaries ended July 5.5 per cent higher, after shedding 2.82 per cent in June and 4.93 per cent in May. The ASX 200 has gained 9.4 per cent since the start of the year.

Expectations of further stimulus from the Reserve Bank in terms of another cut to the cash rate boosted yield stocks, as well as stocks in sectors that could benefit from more monetary policy easing, said JBWere executive director Mike Kendall.

"The negative reaction across the latter part of May and into June was really a response of the market trying to figure out what the implications of the US's tapering of the quantitative easing program would be," Mr Kendall said.

Since then, investors have had the time to analyse the US Federal Reserve's stimulus plans, as well as observe the economic recovery in the US and Europe, Mr Kendall said. As a result, financial markets had a more positive run in July.

"People realised that the world is still in a process of economic improvement than malaise ... Once people had a chance to process Bernanke's comments, think about what that means, look at the outlooks for the global economy - then they said maybe we're overdone a little bit."

The three strongest performing sectors in July were materials, energy and financials, which gained 9.3, 6 and 5.5 per cent respectively, as oil and iron ore prices rose.

"You've seen the miners bounce pretty hard off a heavily sold-down level, helped by the recent buoyancy in the iron ore price," UBS's head of strategy, David Cassidy, said. "There was a bit of a relief rally [following] the build-up in negative sentiment towards China through to June."

Materials and energy stocks also dominated the top 10 performers on the ASX 200. Diversified energy company Linc Energy was the second-best performer after Billabong, with a rise of 97.6 per cent, while Energy World Corporation was third with a lift of 53.9 per cent.

Oceangold, Beadell Resources, Evolution Mining, Medusa Mining, Northern Star Resources, Buru Energy and Independence Group made up the rest of the top 10.

The worst performer was salary packager McMillan Shakespeare, which shed just under half of its value after the federal government announced plans to abolish the fringe benefits tax for employer-provided cars.

Mr Kendall said the corporate reporting season in the US has been solid, while expectations for Australia's reporting season, which starts on Thursday, was that results should be steady. "That's given investors a little bit more comfort. The general global macro outlook is probably net positive, and people have bought that view," he said.

At the same time, offshore investors had not yet returned to the sharemarket, as the Australian dollar remained on a downward trend. The Australian currency was buying US90.26¢ late on Wednesday and was more than 13 per cent lower than its value in mid-April.

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