Market Wrap: Aus shares lift slightly

Market Reports

The Australian share market rebounded from a soft start, to close 0.4 per cent higher boosted by strength in the big four banks. However investors remained cautious given European sovereign debt issues and some concern surrounding Chinese metal demand, holding the miners mostly lower. The S&P/ASX 200 Index: closed 20 points higher to finish at 4,619. On the futures market, the SPI200 up 26 points.

In economic news: The Housing Industry Association-Jeld Wen home-sales figures showed new homes sales rose 2.4 per cent in October and detached home sales were up 3 per cent in the period. The lift comes after a downward revision the month before. Also, the Australian Bureau of Statistics released its September quarter business indicators in which it showed business inventories dropped more than expected, down 0.8 per cent in the period after declining by a revised 0.1 per cent in the June quarter.

Company news: Leighton Holdings Ltd (ASX:LEI) has agreed to measures to safeguard its shareholders if its German parent, Hochtief, is taken over by a Spanish suitor. Following discussions with the Spanish construction company, Leighton says the current arrangements which exist between Leighton and Hochtief will not be changed in the event of a takeover. Shares in Leighton Holdings eased 0.06 per cent to close at $31.91. The federal parliament has approved legislation to structurally separate Telstra Corporation Ltd (ASX:TLS), enabling the government to proceed with its planned national broadband network. The bill will allow Telstra to separate its wholesale and retail divisions, allowing the proposed $36 billion network to advance with Telstra’s cooperation. Shares in Telstra lost 0.35 per cent to close at $2.84.

Molopo Energy Ltd (ASX:MPO) is poised to list its Canadian oil assets, the junior oil and gas explorer has scheduled the IPO of its subsidiary Molopo Energy Canada early next year.

Australian Power and Gas Company Ltd (ASX:APK) has confirmed it expects to improve its net profit to between $3.5 million and $4.5 million for the current financial year.

Rio Tinto Ltd’s (ASX:RIO) says its copper production is set to drop by 15 per cent in the next year to around 562,000 tonnes, the lowest level in over a decade.

Fury has continued for National Australia Bank Ltd’s (ASX:NAB) customers. The bank yesterday opened some of its branches to assist customers access funds after numerous computer problems delayed payments and transactions.

In the best and worst market performers: The best performing sector was Financials Excluding Real Estate Investment Trusts which closed 68 points higher to 4,920. The worst performing sector was Consumer Staples with the index falling 47 points to 7,742. The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Nufarm as shares were 4.95 per cent stronger at $4.45. Shares in Paperlinx and Intrepid Mines also closed higher. The worst performing stock was GUD Holdings, shares dipped 4.56 per cent to $9.20. Shares in Gindalbie Metals and Infigen Energy also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,362 an ounce and light crude is up $0.48 at $84.24.