ASX recovers as Westfield, Fortescue soars

Following a 1.5% drop on Monday and Tuesday, the S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) recovered slightly on Wednesday despite the release of disappointing third-quarter growth data.

In Sydney, data showed that Australia’s economy grew just 2.3% in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. This was disappointing considering it was expected to rise 2.6% according to a survey undertaken by The Wall Street Journal of 16 economists. The Australian dollar plunged on the news, falling as low as US90.42c from US91.35c prior to the release of the data.

The market climbed 17.7% points on Wednesday to close at 5273.8, aided by the banks and miners. Westpac (ASX: WBC), NAB (ASX: NAB), Commonwealth Bank (ASX: CBA) and ANZ (ASX: ANZ) each climbed between 0.2% and 0.6% whilst BHP Billiton (ASX: BHP) and Rio Tinto (ASX: RIO) added 1% and 1.2%, respectively. Fortescue Metals Group (ASX: FMG) also added 2.9%.

Shopping centre giant Westfield Group (ASX: WDC) was one of the index’s strongest performers for the day. Having closed yesterday trading at $10.36, the shares climbed as high as $11.04 in early trading before settling back down to $10.78 – a 4.1% gain for the day. The company announced that it would be splitting its domestic and international assets, stating that “both companies are large and strong enough to operate independently of each other and (the proposal will enable them) to pursue their individual strategic goals and financing plans.”

Whilst the Australasian assets will be merged with those of Westfield Retail Trust (ASX: WRT) to form a new company, known as Scentre, both companies announced that the deal would create greater shareholder value and “generate greater growth”.

Other gainers for the day included Paladin Energy (ASX: PDN) which rose 10.3%, as well as Atlas Iron (ASX: AGO), Evolution Mining (ASX: EVN), Maverick Drilling and Exploration (ASX: MAD) and Mount Gibson Iron (ASX: MGX), which gained between 5.7% and 7.7%.

Foolish takeaway

Although the index has fallen since the beginning of November, the share market still is not cheap and it is becoming more and more difficult to find bargains. However, there are still plenty of opportunities if you know where to look.


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Motley Fool contributor Ryan Newman does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned.

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