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Market Update

Australian Retail Sales Rise 0.2%, New Home Sales Fall 1.9%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:13 AM ET February 05 2015

5:30 PM Sydney – Australian market indexes extended 11-day rally in active trading and Aussie dollar rebounded slightly. Retail sales in December rose 0.2% but in the quarter jumped 1.5% and new home sales in the month declined 1.9%.

Australian stocks turned higher in afternoon trading and financial services and led the gainers.

Seasonally adjusted retail trade in December slightly rose 0.2% to $23.806 billion from 0.1% gain in November, Australian Bureau of Statistics reported today.

For the fourth-quarter, the value of retail sales jumped 1.5% to $69.434 billion from year ago period after sales increased 1% in the third quarter.

The Housing Industry Association said total number of new home sales in December dropped 1.9% followed by 2.2% increase in the previous month.

Multi-units sales in December declined 9.2% while detached houses fell 0.2%.

The number of sales in the year climbed 14.4% from a year ago.

Australian dollar closed at 77.79 U.S. cents and in stock-trading turnover declined to 845 million shares worth $5.68 billion.

ASX 200 Index gained 33.70 or 0.6% to 5,811 and broader All Ordinaries Index rose 31.80 to 5,765.50.

In commodities trading, gold jumped US$7 to US$1,272 an ounce and light crude oil tumbled $4.60 to US$48.45 a barrel.

Brent crude fell 62 cents to close at US$53.54 a barrel.

Australian Stock Movers

Downer EDI Limited slipped 0.9% to $4.45 after the engineering and construction group reported total revenues in the first-half ending in December declined 10.1% to $3.38 billion from $3.76 billion a year ago period.

Net profit in the period dropped 4.4% to $94.72 million compared to $99.11 million and diluted earnings per share slid to 20.1 cents form 20.8 cents in the same period a year ago.

Finbar Group Limited fell 0.8% to $1.29 after the property developer agreed to sell its office complex located in Perth’s Victoria Park for about $72.8 million and estimated to realize $20 million in cash from the sale of Gateway Building.

McMillan Shakespeare Limited gained 1.3% to $11.47 after the financing and leasing service provider agreed to acquire privately owned Presidian Pty Ltd, the independent finance, warranty and insurance products provider for about $115 million.

The transaction is expected to close on February 27.

Presidian revenues in the fiscal 2014 ending in December were $64.8 million and operating earnings were $12.2 million.

McMillan said preliminary first-half net profit-after-tax is estimated to be about $31.1 million.

National Australia Bank Limited increased 1.3% to $36.97 after the financial service provider reported unaudited net profit rose to about 1.8 billion and revenues jumped 4% while charge for bad and doubtful debts for the quarter surged 30% to $227 million.

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