Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.2% higher

Market Reports

Following soft leads the Australian share market dipped into the red at open before recovering by mid morning. The market then traded within a 15 point range for the rest of the day, closing 8.9 points or 0.2 per cent higher . 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 9 points up to finish at 4,292. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 8 points up.

Economic news

The Australian Bureau of statistics has released new motor vehicle sales figures for July, revealing a 0.8 per cent drop to 90,133 compared to 90,859 in June. Despite the monthly drop, sales of new motor vehicles are 5 per cent higher for the year.

National Australia Bank today released its monthly business survey for July, flagging a rise in the Reserve Banks cash rate by mid 2013 and revising its earlier call of a September rate cut. NAB also revised higher its gross domestic product forecast for 2012 to 3.6 per cent from an earlier call of 3.1 per cent, after the economy began to shown signs of resilience.

Company News

GWA International Limited (ASX:GWA) has reported a 37.4 per cent drop in its full year profit, making $39.7 million. The Bathroom and Kitchen supplier says it has performed well despite a deteriorating housing market and low consumer confidence. Managing Director Peter Crowley said that the decline in federal government stimulus spending and the cessation of rebates on environmental water heaters also had a material impact on sales. GWA Group will pay a final dividend of 8.5 cents per share, fully franked. Shares in GWA Group closed 4.21 per cent down at $1.94.

Oakton Limited (ASX:OKN) has posted a fall in its full year net profit, dropping 9.7 per cent to $11.8 million. Revenue from ordinary activities also fell 8.1 per cent to $172.4 million. The Consulting and IT services company remains optimistic on its outlook, outlining a goal to secure work within the resource sector in Perth. Oakton will pay its shareholders a final dividend of 5.5 cents fully franked. Shares in Oakton closed 9.72 per cent up at $1.35.

Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF) has posted a full year net loss of $146.9 million, an 11.9 per cent improvement from the same time last year.

Carsales.com Limited (ASX:CRZ) says its net profit gained 23 per cent to $71.6 million in the 2012 financial year.

National Australia Bank Limited. (ASX:NAB) today reported steady third quarter results, with a cash profit of $1.4 billion and a Net profit of $1.2 billion. Revenue for the quarter was down by 1 per cent.

Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) achieved growth in its fiscal first-quarter results. In  the three months to June net profit grew 3.2 per cent to about $723 million.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Telco services adding 33 points to close at 1,314.
The worst performing sector was Financials excluding real estate investment trusts, losing 6 points to close at 5,040.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Bathurst Resources Ltd (ASX:BTU), rising 15.38 per cent to close at $0.38. Shares in BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL) and Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Aquila Resources Limited (ASX:AQA), dropping 7.85 per cent to close at $2.23. Shares in Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB) and GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD) also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,613 an ounce. Light crude is $0.09 up at $US92.82 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.052.