The Australian stock market continued its upward trajectory following a 1.3% gain last week and a very volatile past couple of weeks as US markets come to grips with potentially higher inflation and higher rates quicker than previously expected. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 1.6% for last week, touching the psychological 6,000 point mark. Most major industry groups finished the week in positive territory with the exception of resources stocks. Consumer, Health Care and IT stocks were the best performers.
BHP slumped 4.8% after disappointing first-half earnings, with the key negative being higher-than-expected costs in all units. Wesfarmers surged 3% after underlying earnings from the owner of Coles and Bunning proved slightly stronger than expected. Qantas surged 5.9% after the carrier reported a record underlying profit before tax of $976 million for the first half of FY18, with a relatively good result for the international business helping compensate for a competitive domestic market.
Webjet spiked 16% after the booking site posted a solid result. Flight Centre soared 10.4% after the travel agent raised guidance for the full year. Blackmores plummeted 14.7% despite meeting consensus forecasts. A2 Milk share price soared after the milk producer announced an alliance with New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra to broaden its access to global markets. A2 Milk also posted a jump in first-half net profit of 150%.
Super Retail plummeted 14.5% after the owner of the Rebel, Supercheap Auto, BCF and Rays brands missed consensus earnings and dividend forecasts and followed up with the surprise acquisition of New Zealand outdoor equipment retailer, Macpac, for $135 million.
Oil Search slipped 0.5% as investors focused on higher-than expected cost guidance for CY18 rather than CY17 earnings. Brambles climbed 1.1% as the logistics group reiterated full-year guidance. Beach Energy spiked 7.1% despite missing estimates as investors focused on management’s message of strong leverage to underlying commodity prices now it had incorporated its Lattice Energy acquisition into its portfolio. NIB Holdings leapt 2.6% after the health insurer posted a strong result.