Market Wrap: ASX pares losses to close up

Market Reports

The local market dipped into the red in morning trade but amid volatility after midday the ASX settled 0.3 per cent higher.
 
Flight Centre, Orora and QBE all impressed investors with their earnings results which buoyed the market. Overall the materials sector was the best performer.
 
Focus now turns to the US where Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will make a statement to congress on the future of US monetary policy. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 19 points up to finish at 5,927. 
 
The value of trades was $6.1 billion on volume of 904 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) and QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 28 points up.
 
Company news
 
Shares in Orora Limited (ASX:ORA) have jumped after reporting an interim profit rise and forecasting earnings growth ahead. The packaging business improved its net profit on a pro-forma basis by 23 per cent to $69.1 million in the first half, while revenue rose 3.4 per cent. Orora closed 7.92 per cent up at $2.18.

Australia’s largest company BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has reported a steep interim profit drop but lifted its dividend. The diversified mining giant’s net profit slumped 47.4 per cent to $US4.26 billion in the first half of the 2015 financial year. On an underlying basis the company’s profit declined 31 per cent to $US5.35 billion and revenue dropped 12 per cent to $US29.9 billion. Shares in BHP closed 2.93 per cent up at $33.06.
 
Breville Group Limited (ASX:BRG) has booked an interim profit fall and cautioned on challenging conditions ahead. 
 
Australian supermarket giant Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) has teamed up with eBay Australia.
 
Shares in Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT) have pushed higher as it posts a dip in net profit for the first half but stands by its full year guidance. 
 
Healthscope Limited (ASX:HSO) has pushed to a first half profit of $58.6 million on the back of strength from its hospitals and international pathology business.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was materials adding 1.1 per cent to close at 9,665. The worst performing sector was real estate investment trusts, losing 0.65 per cent to close at 1,307 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Flight Centre Travel Group Limited (ASX:FLT), rising 12.06 per cent to close at $39.50. Shares in Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB) and Orora Limited (ASX:ORA) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was MMA Offshore Limited (ASX:MRM), dropping 11.68 per cent to close at $0.87. Shares in STW Communications Group Limited (ASX:SGN) and Village Roadshow Limited (ASX:VRL) also closed lower.
 
IPO 

Martin Aircraft Company Limited (ASX:MJP) started trading today. The jet pack developer listed with an issue price of $0.40, opened at $0.60 and a closed at $0.44.
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,204 an ounce. Light crude is $1.36 down at $US49.45 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7775