It has been a positive finish to the trading day for the Australian share market, after opening in the black this morning. The local bourse managed to stay above water for the rest of the session and close the day 0.54 per cent higher. The Utilities and Financials sectors were to thank for the gains, with the big four banks looking stronger all gaining around 1 per cent at the final bell. A handful of sectors finished the day in the red, but Consumer Staples fared the worst with falls in the supermarket giants.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 31 points up to finish at 5,805.
The value of trades was $4.5 billion on volume of 633 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO).
On the futures market the SPI is 28 points higher.
Taking a look at how Asian markets are tracking in afternoon trade. The Nikkei is 0.59 per cent higher, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is 0.98 per cent higher and the Shanghai Composite is up 0.47 per cent.
Austal Limited (ASX:ASB) has announced that the first of two 30 metre high speed passenger ferries have been delivered on time and on budget in the Philippines. Austal was awarded the $13 million contract a year ago and construction of the ferries took place at Austal Philippines shipyard in Cebu. Austal Philippines is currently building high speed ferries for South Korea and Germany.Shares in Austal closed 3.69 per cent lower at $1.82.
Fairfax Media Limited (ASX:FXJ) says it is not seeking offers or undertaking a process to sell its 54.5 per cent holding in Macquarie Media Limited (ASX:MRN).
Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has invested a further US$40 million in London AIM-listed company, SolGold.
McMillan Shakespeare Limited (ASX:MMS) has responded to media speculation that it will be hit with a $80 million class action, saying it is yet to be served with legal proceedings.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Utilities adding 1.45 per cent to close at 9,060. The worst performing sector was Consumer Staples, losing 1.04 per cent to close at 9,142 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was A2 Milk (ASX:A2M), rising 6.5 per cent to close at $3.93. Shares in Southern Cross Media (ASX:SXL) and Seven West Media (ASX:SWM) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was FlexiGroup (ASX:FXL), dropping 6.18 per cent to close at $1.59. Shares in McMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS) and Woolworths (ASX:WOW) also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,252 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.29 higher at $US44.97 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7613.