SYDNEY -- After a bullish lead from the U.S. markets overnight, the major Australian indices finished the trading week on a positive note. Each of the major U.S. indices closed significantly higher: The Dow Jones put on 1.2%, the S&P 500 gained 1.1%; the Nasdaq was the laggard, but still gained 0.6%.
The ASX dipped into negative territory in the first hour of trade, but rebounded quickly to spend the rest of the day in the black. The S&P / ASX 200 Index (INDEX: ^AXJO ) closed up 0.4% at 4,057.3 points. The broader All Ordinaries (INDEX: ^AORD ) closed down a similar percentage to finish at 4,107.
Focus on the big end of town
Much of the news today was related to famous (and wealthy) names -- Packer, Rinehart, and Tinkler chief among them.
James Packer's Crown Limited (ASX: CWN.AX) continues to stalk Echo Entertainment, while the latter has downgraded profit expectations -- again -- while it concurrently looks to raise almost half a billion dollars. Crown is reported to be taking part in the capital raising.
Meanwhile, mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is rumored to be behind the purchase of a 42 million-share block of Fairfax Media yesterday, as she looks to boost her influence -- and gain a board seat -- at the media company.
In other corporate moves, Nathan Tinkler has lobbed in a bid for Whitehaven Coal, while the latter is in the midst of a takeover of Coalworks.
Winners and losers
Turning to the market sectors, and with the market up 0.4%, it's not surprising that most sectors delivered gains today. Leading the way was the utilities sector, with a gain of 1.2%, while the telecoms and energy sectors both rose 0.6% today.
We only saw two decliners -- the IT sector giving up 1.4% and health care down 0.6%.
We saw significant sizes of gainers and losers among the ASX 200 today.
The winners were led by SP Ausnet, which put on 9.1% and BlueScope Steel, which gained 8.9%. Other companies which added more than 5% included OneSteel (ASX: OST.AX), up 7.6%, Aurora Oil and Gas, which gained 5.9%, and GWA Group and Senex Energy, which both saw an increase of 5.3%.
We saw some significant losers today, with Dart Energy (ASX: DTE.AX) losing 5.4%, FKP Property Group off 5.3%, Mesoblast down 4%, and Kingsgate falling by 3.9%.
With the Greek elections coming up this weekend, eyes will be firmly on both the electoral outcome and any European responses. The European Central Bank and the G20 group of nations are making contingency plans should Greece try to renegotiate its bailout plan or decide to leave the common currency.
While a withdrawal from the euro would be unprecedented, we've lived through many sovereign defaults in years gone by. Focusing on individual businesses -- and taking advantage of any subsequent share price weakness -- has always proved the most profitable way to respond to such concerns, and there's no sense that it's any different this time around.
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