Market Wrap: Aus shares close firmly in the black

Market Reports

Aussie shares rallied today, closing firmly in the black led higher by the miners. Strong offshore leads got the market off to a good start, investor confidence rising on belief that the central banks will do whatever it takes to lift the global economy.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is 80 points higher to finish at 4,687. On the futures market, the SPI200 is up 76 points.

To company news: Leighton Holdings Ltd (ASX:LEI) Asian subsidiary has secured a role in a joint venture to develop a new $660 million sewerage sludge treatment facility in Hong Kong. Leighton Asia has partnered with Veolia Water SCL and John Holland to design, construct, test and commission the facility. The company says the facility is critical to the region’s wastewater treatment capacity and, at 2,000 metric tonnes per day, will be the biggest sewage sludge incineration facility ever built. Construction of the facility is to begin immediately with completion targeted for 2013. Shares in Leighton Holdings closed 1.84% higher today at $34.87.

Pharmaceutical company Pharmaxis Ltd (ASX:PXS) has received regulator’s approval in the US to sell its asthma test kit, Aridol in the States. The company says the US Food and Drug Administration has approved Aridol for the assessment of bronchial hyperresponsiveness in patients six years or older who do not have clinically apparent asthma. Acting CEO Gary Phillips says the US represents one of the world’s largest markets for bronchial challenge tests. Pharmaxis anticipates commencing sales in the first quarter of 2011. Shares in Pharmaxis closed 1.29% stronger at $2.35 today.

Also making news: Engineering services provider LogiCamms Ltd (ASX:LCM) has won a $5.4 million contract with Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) Iron Ore for Rio’s train loading improvement project in the Pilbara of WA.

Allied Gold Ltd (ASX:ALD) says its wholly owned Simberi gold mine in Papua New Guinea produced 18,000 ounces of gold in the September quarter, in line with guidance.

Rumours that Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) is to walk away from its planned Pilbara iron ore joint venture with BHP Billiton Ltd (ASX:BHP) are growing, but Rio says it has not yet made any final decisions about possible outcomes or next steps relating to the deal.

And Stockland (ASX:SGP) takeover target, retirement village operator Aevum Ltd (ASX:AVE), has entered a trading halt pending the finalisation of Stockland’s offer to acquire Aevum.

In the best and worst performers: All sectors closed in positive territory today, however the sector with the biggest gain at close was Materials with the index up 378 points to 12,925. The sector with the smallest gain at close was Utilities with the index up 7 points to 4,510.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Medusa Mining shares were 8.7% higher at $5.50. Shares in Perseus Mining and Independence Group also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was OceanaGold shares falling 2.85% to $3.75. The company today announcing it had raised $117 million via an equity raising. Shares in AWE and Singtel also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1347 US an ounce. And light crude is up $0.07 at $82.89 US a barrel.