Why these 4 ASX shares are soaring higher today

On another topsy-turvy day for the local sharemarket dominated by bad news from overseas and commodities markets, several businesses have still been able to put on some decent gains.

Let’s take a look at what may be behind the moves of some of Friday’s top-performing shares.

Western Areas Ltd (ASX: WSA) shares are up 5.2% despite the company releasing no specific news to the market today. The miner reportedly owns some of the most lucrative nickel tenements in Western Australia and despite today’s price rise, shares are still down around 46% over the past year. Today’s mini-rebound is most likely attributable to a lift in nickel prices.

Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX: WPL) shares are up 4.1% to $28.12 as the giant oil producer rebounds today, despite WTI and Brent crude oil futures continuing to trend lower this week. Woodside is primarily in the gas space through its flagship Pluto and Western Shelf assets in WA, but remains leveraged to all energy prices and is likely enjoying a price rebound today thanks to some betting this is the bottom for oil prices.

St Barbara Ltd (ASX: SBM) shares are up 23 cents or 16.5% to $1.59 after the company posted an impressive quarterly production update today with debt paid down and an increase in FY16 production guidance. St Barbara has a cash balance of around $100 million and will hope for a rebound in spot gold prices stuck at around US$1,095 per ounce for much of 2015. The spot gold price is down around 40% from highs hit in 2011 during the peak of the Eurozone debt crisis and more signs of a hard landing in China could see it catch an updraft.

Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) is the heavily indebted LNG business that has seen its shares lift 3.7% to $3.37 today as it rebounds from multi-year lows hit in tandem with tumbling energy prices. Santos took on a lot of debt in order to construct its flagship Gladstone LNG project, which is now operational, and the stock remains highly leveraged to any rebound in energy prices.

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Motley Fool contributor Tom Richardson has no position in any stocks mentioned.

You can find Tom on Twitter @tommyr345

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. 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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