Here’s why the BHP Billiton Limited share price surged 5.4% today

Credit: glyphwalker

Not even a US$7.2 billion writedown could hold down the share price of BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) today, with the miner’s shares rocketing 5.4% higher to $15.68. That compares to a 1.6% jump for the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO).

In an announcement to the market this morning, BHP Billiton said the ongoing volatility and weakness in oil prices had led to an assessment of the value of its Onshore US asset values, resulting in an expected US$4.9 billion post-tax impairment charge.

An impairment was likely expected by investors based on the fact the miner’s shares had been trading below their book value in recent times.

Despite the writedown however, the shares exploded as soon as the market’s opening bell rang, soaring to a high of $15.75. The shares hit a new 10-year low of just $14.45 during yesterday’s session.

There were a number of factors playing in the miner’s favour today, including a 1.8% lift in the iron ore price to US$40.22, according to The Metal Bulletin, as well as an overnight bounce in oil prices. Brent crude jumped 2.7% to US$31.14 a barrel after recently slipping into the US$20s, while West Texas Intermediate crude also rose above US$31 a barrel.

While these movements helped spark something of a relief rally in the United States overnight, they also provided BHP’s London-listed shares with a sense of hope. The shares closed 6% higher after rising as much as 7.2% during the session.

Shares of Rio Tinto Limited (ASX: RIO) have also risen 3.4% higher, while Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) and South32 Ltd (ASX: S32) shares have gained 3.4% and 5.5%, respectively.

Although shares in the mining sector are climbing higher today; investors shouldn’t get too ahead of themselves. Commodity prices will inherently bounce around but most economists still expect iron ore and oil to fall in value over the coming months. That could put miners such as BHP under even greater pressure, with their share prices capable of falling even beneath their recent lows.

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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ASXvalueinvest.

The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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