6:30 PM Sydney – Australian indexes closed higher as most markets across Asia were closed to celebrate Lunar New Year. Home loans in December declined 1.5% from November, third monthly fall in a row. The Australian dollar eased to below $1.03.
Stocks traded higher in weak trading environment and markets across Asia were closed.
Markets in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and in South Korea were closed to celebrate Lunar New Year holidays. Markets in Japan were closed to celebrate National Foundation Day.
In domestic economic news, home loan approvals declined 1.5% in December from November, a third monthly decline in a row according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The ASX 200 index slipped 11.80 or to 4,959.50 and the broader All Ordinaries lowered 9.08 to 4,980.32.
The Australian dollar declined and closed at $1.0295 and continued its slide for the fourth week in a row and dropped to a low since October.
JB Hi-Fi soared 17% after the electronics retailer reported first-half net profit increased 3% to $82 million. The stock closed at a high not last seen since December 2011.
Whitehaven Coal declined 1.3% to $2.96 after Environment Minister Tony Burke approved Maules Creek and Boggabri mines project. One of the conditions for approval requires the company to take care of rehabilitating 15,000 hectares of land to compensate for the coal mining work.
Newcrest Mining dropped 37 cents to $24.15 after the gold miner reported decline in sales and profit, but lower than expected.
AGL Energy increased 12 cents to $15.25 after federal government gave conditional approval for its Gloucester coal seam methane project.
Rio Tinto slipped 15 cents to $69.45, despite winning a legal battle with Fortescue over the use of its rail lines in the Pilbara region.
BHP decreased 24 cents to $37.71.
Lend Lease slid 4 cents to $10.30.
Oil Search Limited declined 13 cents to $7.50 and Santos Limited fell 5 cents to $12.23. Beach Energy increased at $1.39.
Woodside Petroleum added 11 cents to $35.91 and Origin Energy Limited rose 6 cents to $12.33.
Woolworths slipped 7 cents to $32.68. Kathmandu closed unchanged at $1.80 and Wesfarmers down 3 cents to $38.60.
David Jones Limited gained 7 cents to $2.70 and. Breville Group up 5 cents to $6.91.
Billabong closed unchanged at 96.5 cents and Globe International closed unchanged at 45 cents.
Commonwealth Bank of Australia rose 29 cents to $65.12 and Bank of Queensland gained 11 cents to $8.71 and ANZ declined 35 cents to $27.77. National Australia Bank added 7 cents to $29.09. Westpac slumped 12 cents to $27.96.