5:00 PM Sydney – Australian retail sales rose for the sixth month in a row and trade surplus was ahead of estimates. February retail sales gained 0.2% after rising 1.2% in January. Trade surplus in February jumped 33% to $1.23 billion. Fonterra and Woolworths sign a 10-year deal.
Australian stocks traded higher after retail sales in February extended gains since September and trade surplus in the month was ahead of expectations.
Retail sales rose 0.2% in the month after rising 1.2% in January and extended the string of gains since September on stronger than expected consumer demand, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics.
In a separate report, the agency said trade surplus in February increased 33% to $1.23 billion on the strong and stable demand from China for commodities.
Australian dollar closed at 92.15 U.S. cents and stock market trading turnover fell to 691 million shares worth $3.81 billion.
The ASX 200 index rose 6.60 to 5,409.90 and the broader All Ordinaries gained 6.90 to 5,415.70.
Stocks in Review
Rio Tinto slipped 42 cents to $63.68.
BHP rose 16 cents to $37.53 after the mining company confirmed that it will sell nickel and copper acreage.
Cassini Resources will acquire the deposits in West Musgrave from BHP at the cash cost of $250,000 and $10 million production milestone payment. The company also agreed to pay 2% smelter royalty.
Woodside Petroleum Limited gained 10 cents to $38.81.
Westpac Banking Corp fell 15 cents to $34.47.
fell 1% to $1.43 after the outsourcing company agreed to acquire virtual content marketplace, fantero.com, including certain intellectual property and domain name assets.
Fonterra, New Zealand based dairy operator signed a $60 million deal over ten years to to supply store brand milk to Woolworths.
Ramsay Health Care Limited
slid 0.2% to $47.78 after the company said it failed to acquire rival private hospital chains in the UK after the British competition regulator approved the purchase of only two hospital facilities.
The hospital chain operator said sales increased 4.4% in the first-half after the company began accepting contracts from National Health System in the U.K.