The ASX 200 rose 1.3% for the week, closing at 4852. The gains helped the market recover most of the prior week’s losses.
A host of mining companies reported their latest quarterly production numbers last week.
BHP Billiton (BHP) slipped 0.4% amid lower output across most of its commodities from the prior quarter.
However Newcrest Mining (NCM) managed a 3.3% gain despite a decline in gold output from the last quarter.
In the energy sector, wet weather affected output at Woodside Petroleum (WPL) and Santos (STO). Nevertheless, both stocks advanced over the week.
All of the big four banks settled higher last week. Commonwealth Bank (CBA), Westpac (WBC), and ANZ Bank (ANZ) strengthened by at least 2%.
The two consumer staples giants both reported a rise in third quarter sales last week. The results drove Woolworths (WOW) higher by 0.8% and Wesfarmers (WES) by 2.8%.
Economic News. What Does it Mean?
Last week saw two major pieces of economic new; the latest RBA minutes and PPI numbers.
Released on Tuesday, the RBA’s minutes for April indicated the central bank remained positive about the medium-term outlook despite rising oil prices, European debt fears and the Japanese earthquake.
The RBA said growth remained strong in Asia and that Australian export prices were expected to stay high for some time.
With the labour market outlook also looking positive and business investment growing strongly, the RBA was expecting a high inflation reading for the March quarter.
On Thursday, the Australian Producer Price Index rose 1.2% in the March quarter, ahead of economist expectations of a 1% gain.
The gains in the PPI were mostly attributable to higher refining, agriculture and utility prices in the quarter.
Overseas Market and Commodity Wrap:
Please note: most of the prices below reflect a week and a half of changes, as most global markets traded through the Easter break.
Global equity and commodity markets were mostly stronger last week, reflecting investors’ increasing confidence.
American markets led the way, buoyed by surprisingly good company earnings reports. The Dow Jones added 2% since last week’s Investors report, and closed last night at its highest level since June 2008. The S&P 500 added 2.1% for the week and the Nasdaq rose 3% despite disappointing revenue figures from Amazon.
Across the Atlantic, the FTSE only rose 1.2% despite strong commodity prices (in particular energy prices).
Markets were weaker in Asia, with the Chinese market the main culprit, down 3.7% for the week on concerns the latest tightening measures will slow growth. Banking stocks were amongst the biggest losers.
The Hang Seng has been virtually unchanged over the last week and a half, while the Nikkei continued to underperform, down 0.3% for the period.
Most commodity prices were higher, the US dollar floundering ahead of an historic speech from Ben Bernanke.
Gold moved above US$1500 an ounce for the first time in history, finishing up 1.2% for the period.
Oil prices were also strong, up 2.3% on lingering supply concerns.
Base metals were mixed, with aluminium the biggest gainer, up 3.6%. Copper and nickel also registered solid gains, but sister metals lead and zinc each shed over 2%.