Market Wrap: Aus shares close marginally higher

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 0.1 per cent higher, recovering from losses early on in the session on the back of improved jobs data and strength in the mining sector.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is 5 points higher to finish at 4,691. On the futures market, the SPI200 is up 8 points.

To company news: Leighton Holdings Ltd’s (ASX:LEI) wholly owned subsidiary John Holland has scored a $348 million deal to deliver mining services in Queensland. The four year agreement is with Jellinbah Mining and is expected to start in April next year. Leighton says the contract includes mine planning and design at the Plains pit of Jellinbah Coal Mine. John Holland’s managing director, Glenn Palin says rising overseas demand for coal and minerals is driving investment across Australia and the company is geared for expansion. Shares in Leighton Holdings closed .52% up at $35.05.

Perilya Ltd (ASX:PEM) is a step closer to a friendly $186 million merger with Canada's GlobeStar Mining Corporation, with both companies entering into a binding pre-bid agreement. Under the terms of the agreement lead and zinc miner Perilya will offer $1.66 for every GlobeStar share. Globestar is a mining and exploration company based in Toronto and listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Perilya says the acquisition will give it immediate access to a low cost operating project producing copper, gold and silver with a seven year mine life, with the potential to increase both mine life and production rate. Shares in Perilya are in a trading halt and last traded at $0.47.

Bow Energy Ltd (ASX:BOW) says its operations in the Bowen Basin have been delayed over three months because of wet weather, but the coal seam gas producer affirms its aggressive drilling and testing programs are targeting to deliver continued reserve upgrades from early 2011.

Seymore Whyte Ltd (ASX:SWL) has won a $42 million roadworks contract for early works on the Gold Coast light rail system, work due to start within weeks.

Engineering company Monadelphous Group Ltd (ASX:MND) says it has secured new contracts and work in Western Australia and Papua New Guinea worth around $120 million.

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) CEO Gail Kelly has been named one of the most powerful women in the world by Forbes Magazine, coming in at the eighth spot to beat US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and singer Beyonce.

In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector at close was Utilities with the index up 39 points to 4,550. The worst performing sector was Health Care with the index closing down 59 points to 8,271.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Sundance Resources shares were 9.8% higher at $0.28. Shares in Cudeco and Mirabela Nickel also closed higher. The worst performing stock was Infigen Energy shares dropping 4.2% to $0.68. Shares in Carnarvon and Toll Holdings also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1353 US an ounce. And light crude is up $0.38 at $83.61 US a barrel.