The ASX 200 climbed 98 points (+2.4%) for the week, closing at 4200.
BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) headlined the companies reporting their results last week. The mining giant put on 3% after reporting a record FY11 net profit of US$23.6 billion.
Bluescope Steel (ASX:BSL) confirmed its perilous position after reporting a FY11 net loss of $1.05 billion. Despite the loss, BSL rose 3.8% on plans to downsize its workforce.
Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) drove the energy sector higher (+6%) following its bullish FY12 outlook. Oil Search (ASX:OSH) was another solid performer (+4.7%) after its 1H11 net surged 117%.
Among the big four, Westpac Bank (ASX:WBC) and ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) put on around 2% each.
Seek Ltd (ASX:SEK) had a forgetful week (-7.5%) after its disappointing FY11 profit. However Qantas (ASX:QAN) flew 8.6% after its full year result beat estimates.
Woolworths (ASX:WOW) was the main drag on the market last week, slumping 4.7% on the back of its poor FY12 outlook.
Glenn Steven’s speech to parliament was the key economic event last week.
In his testimony, the RBA governor signalled interest rates were likely to remain on hold for the foreseeable future.
Stevens noted the recent market turmoil presented challenges to the world economy, but also said that domestic inflation beared ‘careful watching’.
The comments dampened speculation of near-term interest rate cuts, and appear to have kept the RBA firmly on its longer-term tightening bias.
US markets ended sharply higher last week, with investors shrugging off mixed economic data and instead pinning their hopes on Ben Bernanke announcing new stimulus measures at the weekend’s Jackson Hole meeting in Wyoming.
Although Bernanke’s speech contained no specific plans for a QE3, stocks were nevertheless buoyed by his relatively benign assessment of the US economy.
Friday night’s advance rounded out a positive week for the Dow, which climbed 4.3% over the five sessions. The S&P500 put on 4.8%, whilst the Nasdaq surged 5.9%.
The gains were less pronounced on European markets amid rumours the region’s leading nations are planning to extend short-selling bans.
For the week, the UK FTSE rose 1.8%, the German DAX advanced 1% and the French CAC strengthened 2.4%.
The Shanghai Composite was the biggest mover in the Asian region, rising 3.1% for the week. The Hang Seng and Nikkei were up a more modest 0.9% each.
Gold was sold-off heavily towards the end of the week amid profit-taking and after the CME raised margining requirements on bullion futures. The precious metal shed 3% for the week.
Other commodities were generally stronger, with oil adding 3.6% on supply concerns in the US and the Middle East. Lead was the best performing base metal, rocketing 7.8% over the week.