Local sharemarket upbeat despite Wall Street gloom

The mostly upbeat tone of domestic company reporting season overcame a shaky lead from the US and concerns about liquidity in China as local shares edged higher.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index eked out a gain of 1.5 points, or 0.03 per cent, on Monday to 5440.2, closing higher for the seventh-straight session. The broader All Ordinaries Index added less than one point to 5450.1.

Local shares had a weak lead from Wall Street, which closed lower on Friday after a National Association of Realtors report showed sales of previously owned properties in the US fell by 5.1 per cent in January, against expectations for a 4.1 per cent fall.

Falls in big Asian markets applied further pressure on the local index in the afternoon. China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost more than 2 per cent following reports Chinese banks were tightening property lending.

Sentiment got a boost that world financial leaders gathered at the G20 summit in Sydney at the weekend had agreed on a target to lift global economic growth – as measured by combined domestic product – from 3 per cent to 5 per cent over the next five years.

”Generally speaking, so far reporting season has been slightly better than expected,” said Jamie Nicol, the chief investment officer at Dalton Nicol Reid.

”We are likely to see some decent earnings growth this year for the first time in a number of years, which is a real positive.”

Transfield Services was the best-performing stock in the ASX 200 on Monday, climbing 24.5 per cent to 99¢ on the news it had won a $1.2 billion contract to build asylum seeker offshore processing centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

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