STOCKS TAKE FLIGHT: Here's what you need to know

Photo: Getty / File

Only a day after logging the 18th largest percentage decline on record, Australian stocks have ended the September quarter with a bang, jumping over 2% on the back of bargain hunting, quarter-end window dressing and short covering following Tuesday’s near 4% plunge.

It’s a big end to the worst quarter in four years.

Here’s the scoreboard.

  • ASX 200 5021.60 , 103.17 , 2.10%
  • All Ords 5058.6 , 100.477 , 2.03%
  • AUD/USD 0.7007 , 0.0025 , 0.36%

Nine of the 10 sectors, bar utilities, finished in the black with telecommunications, materials and financials all logging increases of more than 2%.

Of the banks the CBA soared 3.66% while Westpac, ANZ and the NAB all finished with gains in excess of 2%.

Making the gains in banks appear small, BHP and Rio closed up 2.82% and 4.47% respectively. Fortescue Metals, soaring 8.98%, led all gainers. Hello short covering!

Elsewhere Woolworths and Wesfarmers finished with gains of 2.52% and 2.35% respectively while Telstra added a handy 2.19%.

Despite the late fireworks, it’s was a quarter to forget for investors. The benchmark ASX 200 index fell 8.01% following a 7.34% decline in the three months to June, the first back-to-back drop since 2011 and the largest quarterly decline since the September quarter 2011.

Understandably given its woes over the past two quarters, year to date the index is now down 7.19%.

Offering comfort for investors, at least based upon historic norms, it is rare that Australian stocks record three quarters or more of successive losses, and we’re about to start the December quarter, one that has traditionally delivered the largest percentage of wins and gains compared to other periods of the year.

The top stories for Wednesday.

1. Australia’s growth rate in housing investment lending is still faster the 10% “speed limit” APRA imposed on Australia’s banking sector for growth in investment lending.

2. Australian building approvals tanked in August, falling 6.9%. The figure was well below expectations for a decline of 2%, although it’s not all bad news.

3. The 7-Eleven chairman Russ Withers and Chief Executive Warren Wilmot have handed in their resignations in the wake of a joint investigation by ABC’s Four Corners and Fairfax last month that revealed that up to 60% of franchisee staff were underpaid.

4. Origin Energy is preparing to raise $2.5 billion in a rights issue to strengthen the energy producer’s balance sheet in the face of falling oil prices.

5. Vodafone Hutchison Australia and TPG Telecom Limited have struck a $1 billion deal which will bring their networks and customers closer over the next 15 years.

6. Australia is not innovative enough according to the latest World Economic Forums Global Competitiveness Report, leaving the nation ranked at 21 out of a field of 140.

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