Resilient market rebounds from early fall
The sharemarket recovered from a heavy fall at the open to post a modest gain on Wednesday as Commonwealth Bank's bumper first-quarter profit and gains by the big miners buoyed the bourse.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged up 1.8 points to 5433.8.
Telstra rose 0.8 per cent to $5.18, as analysts endorsed its planned listing of Autohome on the New York Stock Exchange.
Commonwealth Bank did the heaviest lifting, rising 1.3 per cent to a record $77.96, after earnings in the September quarter surged 14 per cent to $2.1 billion, boosted by lower bad debts and gains in the home loan market.
"Overall, the quality of results this bank reporting season was solid, despite subdued revenue growth in the sector," Ausbil Dexia's portfolio manager, John Grace, said.
"All of the big four banks displayed a cyclically low level of bad debts, improved asset quality and capital ratios, which enabled payout ratios to edge up." NAB rose 0.3 per cent to $35.89, while ANZ edged up 1¢ to a record $33.80, and Westpac gained 0.1 per cent to $34.39.
NAB and ANZ go ex-dividend on Thursday, and Westpac goes ex-dividend on Friday.
AMP lost 1.1 per cent to $4.66 on news that it plans to raise $200 million from investors through a subordinated notes offer. The wealth company, which issued a $89 million profit warning last month, will use a big part of the subordinated debt to fund its capital requirements.
Bureau of Statistics figures show Australia is on the brink of becoming a net exporter and eradicating its trade deficit, as exports climb.
The trade deficit shrank from $409 million in August to just $284 million in September, well below its recent peak of $3.2 billion in November 2012.
Metals and mining stocks, the biggest contributor to Australia's exports, rose 0.6 per cent as the iron ore spot price rose 0.7 per cent to $US136.80 a tonne.
BHP added 0.6 per cent to $38.09, while Rio Tinto rose 1.4 per cent to $65.60. Fortescue Metals jumped 5.6 per cent to $5.84 as UBS upgraded its recommendation to "buy".
At the local close, the dollar was buying US95.13¢, up from US94.67¢ at the previous close, which put pressure on exchange rate-sensitive stocks.