The Australian share market has surged to its highest level in more than six years today as investors pile into equities following yesterday’s surprise rate cut. The S&P/ASX 200 (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) rose above 5800 points briefly this morning before retreating slightly to be sitting 1.3% higher for the day.
The market’s strength has also been supported by international leads and a resurging oil price, which has risen 21% over the last four days. In the US overnight, the Dow Jones jumped 305 points or 1.76% while the NASDAQ and S&P 500 indices both rose 1.38% and 1.44% respectively.
Here are four big-name companies leading the bourse higher today…
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) has extended its incredible run, jumping another 4.5% following a strong performance from three of its commodities overnight. In addition to the rising oil price, copper rose 3.3% and iron ore managed to regain 1.2% to be sitting at US$63.18 a tonne, according to the Metal Bulletin Ltd.
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX: FMG) has also risen strongly in response to the rising iron ore price with its shares skyrocketing nearly 11% to $2.63. The stock has now risen a remarkable 37% since last Tuesday when it delivered its second-quarter production report which revealed lower costs and greater production numbers than had been expected.
Westfield Corp Ltd (ASX: WFD) has jumped as much as 4.2% to a new $10.66 high before retreating to $10.39 after it announced that it had entered into a US$925 million joint venture with O’Conner Capital Partners. As part of the agreement, Westfield has sold stakes in three US malls which it says will result in approximately US$700 million in net proceeds (before tax) for the company, initially reducing gearing by 1%.
Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) has gained the most of any of the big four banks today, leading the way with a 1.9% jump. Yesterday’s interest rate cut would be playing a key role in driving the stock higher today with investors no doubt attracted to its forecast 5.3% fully franked yield. In addition, the bank has given its customers an even bigger rate cut than that passed on by the RBA, reducing its standard variable rate by 0.28 percentage points.
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