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Australian stocks finish 1.1 % stronger at end of 2014

Australian stocks finish 1.1 % stronger at end of 2014

PERTH: The Australian stocks has turned in its poorest yearly performance in three years.
Closing lower on the last trading day of 2014, the benchmark S & P/ASX200 finished the year overall up 1.1 per cent at 5411.0 — its smallest annual gain since 2011.
The broader All Ordinaries index gained 0.66 per cent over the 12 months.
While the S & P/ASX200 index today closed down 5.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, the All Ordinaries index ended today’s shortened session down 3.7 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 5388.6.
The sharemarket’s year was characterised by a mixed performance from the various industry sectors — a trend likely to continue in early 2015 amid downward pressure on interest rates, commodity prices and the Australian dollar.
Strength in the healthcare, telecommunications, utilities, industrials, financial and information technology sectors was offset by weakness in energy, materials and consumer companies.
Offshore markets fared much better, with the US S & P 500 up 13 per cent, Europe’s Stoxx 600 up 3.9 per cent, Japan’s Nikkei 225 up 7 per cent and China’s Shanghai Composite up almost 50 per cent.
“It was quite an uneventful year really and we were one of the worst performing markets in the region,” Commsec market analyst Steven Daghlian said.
At least Australia fared better than France, where the CAC40 index dropped by one per cent.
Today’s lower close, after a subdued trading session, followed lacklustre performances from property stocks and soft leads from global markets.
Overnight, crude futures hit a five-year low. New York’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dropped to $US52.70 a barrel — the lowest level since May 2009.
Brent North Sea crude slid to $US56.74, which was also a five-and-a-half year low.
WTI for delivery in February later recovered to $US53.38 a barrel, down US23c from Monday’s close.
However, the oil price plunge didn’t adversely affect share prices in the energy sector, which rose 0.36 per cent. Santos lifted 0.61 per cent to $8.25, while Woodside Petroleum was marginally weaker, giving up 0.05 per cent to $38.01.
Property stocks ended the day in negative territory. Dexus lost 2.65 per cent to $6.97, while GPT Group lost 2.25 per cent to $4.35. Stockland gave up 0.96 per cent to $4.12. Scentre Group retreated 3.05 per cent to $3.50.
Materials had a mixed day, but the sector as a whole gained 0.15 per cent. BHP Billiton gave up 0.37 per cent to close at $29.37, while Rio Tinto gained 0.76 per cent to $58.00.
Financials lost 0.29 per cent. ANZ inched up 0.16 per cent to $32.09, Commonwealth Bank moved up 0.08 per cent to $85.65, NAB lifted 0.21 per cent to $33.60 and Westpac shed 0.12 per cent to $33.16.
Consumer staples shed 0.17 per cent, as Wesfarmers gave up 0.71 per cent to $41.72 while Woolworths gained 0.36 per cent to $30.68.
Telstra lost 0.17 per cent to $5.97, while Qantas retreated 0.41 per cent to $2.40.
In economic news, seasonally-adjusted figures from the Reserve Bank showed private sector growth in November reached a five-year high, with credit outstanding to the private sector rising by 0.5 per cent.
The ASX will resume trading on January 2.