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Market Update

Australian Indexes at 4-Year Highs; Arrium, Amatil and Asciano in Focus

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 9:09 AM ET February 19 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian market indexes closed at a 4-year high on the strength in resource and bank sector stocks. Earnings drove the market sentiment. Arrium reported higher operating earnings but took a massive asset write down. Coca-Cola Amatil annual net declined 22%. Asciano net soared 74%.

Stocks in Sydney trading opened higher and quickly declined and managed to rebound and close higher on the strength in mining and bank sector stocks.

The Reserve Bank of Australia released its February minutes of meeting and policymakers struck a wait-and-see tone to how the recent interest rate cuts flow through the economy.

The central bank left its key lending rate at 3% at the last rate setting meeting.

The benchmark index ASX 200 closed at a 4-year high on the renewed optimism in the resource stocks.

The ASX 200 index advanced 18.50 to 5,081.90 and the broader All Ordinaries increased 18.02 to 5,100.97.

The Australian dollar declined to $1.034.

In trading, turnover decreased to 1.77 billion shares worth $4.9 billion and 460 stocks increased, 546 decreased and 361 closed unchanged.

Stock Movers

Asciano increased 10 cents to $5.35 after the port and railroad operator increased its first half profit by 74% and estimated higher earnings growth in the second half.

Arrium declined 2.5 cents to $1.235 and the steel maker reported a significant write-down of its assets on higher Australian dollar and weak construction market.

Revenues declined to $3.32 billion in the six-month period to December from $3.55 billion a year-ago period.

The steel products reported a loss of $447 million compared to $74 million loss a year-ago period. The operating earnings increased to $230 million compared to $196 million a year-ago period on the strength in mining products.

The tube and pipe unit accounted for most of the write down.

Yesterday, Bluescope Steel reported a pre-tax loss of $12 million.

Rio Tinto decreased 38 cents to $70.51 and BHP gained 33 cents to $39. Lend Lease slumped 22 cents to $10.20.

Woodside Petroleum climbed 63 cents to $37.91 and Origin Energy Limited added 9 cents to $12.28.

Monadelphous decreased $1.68 to $26.17 and the engineering company reported record first half profit of $79.1 million.

David Jones Limited slid 2 cents to $2.66 and Breville Group climbed 14 cents to $7.22.

Billabong slipped 2 cents to 94.5 cents and Globe International closed unchanged at 42 cents.

Pacific Brands increased 2 cents to 77.5 cents after the struggling clothing retailer said it had returned to profitability.

Coca-Cola Amatil increased 27 cents a share to $13.90 and the beverage products bottler reported 22% decline in annual profit on stronger dollar and weaker consumer spending.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia gained 27 cents to $66.05 and Bank of Queensland up 9 cents to $9.21 and ANZ rose 3 cents to $28.53. National Australia Bank added 2 cents to $30.17. Westpac increased 10 cents to $30.30.

Macquarie Group jumped 59 cents to $39.44 and Toll Holdings rose 7 cents to $5.63, Leighton gained 7 cents to $23.45 and property developer Mirvac Group advanced 5 cents to $1.60.

Westfield Group increased 13 cents to $11.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc