Weekly Summary of Australian Stock Market

The Australian stock market posted another slight gain last week on the back of takeover activity and steady employment numbers.

The market advanced 51 points (+1.1%) for the week, to close at 4818.

The telco, energy, and utilities sectors were the week’s top performers.

Telco giant Telstra (TLS) had a stellar week with its share price soaring 5.2%.

Energy stocks were sparked by Arrow Energy (AOE), who received a takeover offer from Royal Dutch Shell and PetroChina.  The news saw AOE’s share price skyrocket 49% during the week.

BHP Billiton (BHP), which is the biggest company in the Australian stock market, managed to secure a 55% increase in coal prices for the June quarter.  Its share price rose 0.8% for the week, while rival Rio Tinto (RIO) climbed 1.3%.

Alesco Corporation (ALS) was the week’s biggest loser after announcing a major cut in FY10 guidance.  Its share price crashed 33.2%.

Australia and New Zealand Bank (ANZ) was the week’s top major bank, with its share price up 1.8%.  Insurance Australia Group (IAG) announced a cut in FY10 insurance margin guidance due to recent storm damage in Victoria.  Its share price slumped 2.5%.

Consumer staples giant Wesfarmers (WES) dropped 2.2%, while rival Woolworths (WOW) advanced 1.5%.

Among the retailers, Myer Holdings (MYR) announced a 38% jump in 1H10 profit.  Its stock advanced 3.2% for the week, while rival David Jones (DJS) jumped 3.4%.

The major economic event which moved the Australian stock market during the week was February’s jobs numbers.  The unemployment rate edged slightly higher to 5.3%, with the economy adding 400 jobs.