Market Wrap: ASX slightly higher

Market Reports

Following positive leads out of the US, the Australian share market opened higher this morning and climbed sharply early before descending steadily throughout the day and closing flat. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 6 points up to finish at 4,283. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 5 points down.

Economic News

The Australian Bureau of statistics today released its lending figures for June, revealing a rise in finance approvals. Home loans were up by 1.2 per cent, other personal finance including share purchase lending rose by 1.9 per cent and business loans increased by 2.2 per cent.

Company news

Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has posted a 23 per cent rise in its full year net profit, reaching $1.117 billion, a figure slightly up on market forecasts.
The gold miner was disappointed with production volumes in 2012 and attributed its strong results to higher gold prices and cost control, they are expected to increase their gold production volumes in 2013. The Newcrest board has determined a final dividend of 23 cents per share, 15 per cent franked. Shares in Newcrest closed 4.4 per cent up at $25.40.

DuluxGroup Limited(ASX:DLX) and Roller door maker Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) today called a trading halt ahead of what is expected to be a revised and recommended takeover offer. Dulux has bid more than $200 million for Alesco and has previously declared a share offer of $2.05 as its last and final price. The suspension in their stocks is designed to allow talks to proceed and represents the first time either party has publicly confirmed that negotiations are taking place. In the first half of its 2012 financial year DuluxGroup generated a net profit of $46.3 million.
Shares in Dulux closed 0.3 per cent up at $3.33.

UGL Limited (ASX:UGL) shares plunged more than 8.5 per cent to $11.78 following the 15 percent drop in its full year net profit reported today.

Downer Limited (ASX:DOW) exceeded its full year guidance with a 17 per cent rise in its underlying net profit, posting $195.3 million.

Bluescope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) has announced a $1.36 billion joint venture with Japanese steel maker Nippon steel corporation.

JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) share prices have climbed steadily today following the release of its annual figures. Net profit stumbled 5 per cent to $104.6 million in the year to June, in line with its guidance.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Materials adding 106 points to close at 9, 759.
The worst performing sector was Telco Services, losing 10 points to close at 1,281 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL), rising 34.62 per cent to close at $0.35. Shares in Downer EDI Limited (ASX:DOW) and Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was UGL Limited (ASX:UGL), dropping 10.65 per cent to close at $11.49. Shares in Aquila Resources Limited (ASX:AQA) and APN News and Media Limited (ASX:APN) also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,623 an ounce. Light crude is $0.47 up at $US93.34 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.055.