Australian equity markets rose despite negative leads from the northern hemisphere overnight. The S&P/ASX200 rose gradually during the day to a peak at 2pm before easing to finish up slightly. The ABS released data showing the economy was strong enough to bring in an increase in imports in March but an NAB business survey showed weak local business confidence.
The S&P/ASX200 was up 0.34% to 4363.70. The All Ordinaries Index was also up 0.33% to 4441.70.
The day’s winners
Intrepid Mines (ASX: IAU) was up 8.22% to $0.79 at 3.30pm. Intrepid Mines is a Canadian and Australian listed gold and silver mining and exploration company.
Challenger (ASX: CGF) was up 5.00% to 3.78 at 3pm. Challenger is a multi-faceted financial services organisation, with core businesses in annuities, funds management and administrative platforms serving institutional and retail clients. The company today reported to the ASX it had seen a 16% increase in funds under management in the last 12 months–up to $31.4 billion.
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The day’s losers
Whitehaven Coal (ASX: WHC) was down 8.46 % to $5.52 at 3pm. Whitehaven, whose CEO Tony Haggarty is a rich list member with a fortune of $489 million, operates coal mines in the Gunnedah Basin in NSW and released results in February for the second half of 2011 with increases in revenue and profits.
Mirabela Nickel (ASX: MBN) was down 4.81 % to $0.495 at 3pm. Mirabela shares have been suffering from a low nickel price this year.
The strongest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Consumer Staples (Sector) which was up 1.07% to 7575.80.
The weakest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Information Technology (Sector) index which was down 0.42% to 4767.1 at 2.50pm.
The Australian dollar weakened today. One Australian dollar was buying $US1.0356 at 3pm.
Asian shares fell and South Korea’s won dropped even before Spain and France attempt to sell 13.5 billion euros ($AU17.1 billion) in debt tonight (Australian time).
The yen fell for a third day as Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa announced he will continue monetary easing. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) slipped 0.3% as of 1:17 p.m. in Tokyo as Japanese equities lost ground.
Japan’s NIKKEI 225 fell 0.98%, or 94.53 points, to 9572.73 at 3.30pm AEST.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.36% or 75.76 points to 20856.50.
“We’ve seen a good performance out of markets during the first quarter, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see them running into a little bit of resistance,” Stephen Davies, chief executive officer of Singapore-based Javelin Wealth Management, told Bloomberg television. “Uncertainties still abound, particularly with the euro zone, and that’s going to be a feature of this summer.”