Market Wrap: Aus shares come off days highs

Market Reports

The Australian share market has finished 0.5 per cent higher, coming off the day’s highs after reaching its highest level in 16 months after Wall Street rose following positive signs pointing toward a possible budget agreement in the US. 
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 22 points up to finish at 4,595. The value of trades was $4 billion on volume of 840 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Trade Me Group Limited (ASX:TME), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO).
 
On the futures market, the SPI is currently 28 points up.
 
Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) says goods imports went up by 2 per cent in November, reaching $21.8 billion. Intermediate and other merchandise goods saw a $411 million, or 5 per cent increase, owing mainly to fuels and lubricants. 
 
Also today, the RBA said its interest rate decision earlier this month was influenced by the belief that Australia’s mining boom is reaching its peak. The RBA says short term investment outlook in sectors outside of resources remains subdued, supporting the boards decision to provide interest rate support. 
 
Company news
 
Funtastic Limited (ASX:FUN) has reaffirmed its previously issued earnings guidance of between $23 and $25 million for the current financial year. The toy distributor told share holders it expects a slight increase on last years full year result of $20.2 million, owing to the international expansion of existing products as well as the domestic launch of six new toy brands. Funtastic says it will begin paying shareholder dividends next year provided it is able to reach financial targets. Shares in Funtastic closed 4.55 per cent up at $0.23. 
 
Australand Property Group (ASX:ALZ) has denied speculation surrounding a $7 billion merger with Mirvac Group (ASX:MGR). Following reports earlier today pointing to the two company’s moving toward what could become one of Australia’s largest diversified real estate investment trusts, Australand advised the market it was not in fact in receipt of any such proposal.  Shares in Australand Property Group closed 2.67 per cent up at $3.46. 
 
Ansell Limited (ASX:ANN) has acquired a privately owned Brazilian company for $US77 Million, seeking to advance its expansion into the growing South American Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 
 
Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) is reportedly at risk of being banned from Victorian government contracted work for as long as four years.
 
DuluxGroup Limited (ASX:DLX) has reached the 90 per cent interest threshold in its takeover target Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) and will commence the compulsory acquisition process as a result.
 
Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has increased its investment in Aussie Home Loans from 33 to 80 per cent and now has the right to move to full ownership.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Utilities adding 60 points to close at 5,232.The worst performing sector was Real Estate Investment Trusts, losing 7 points to close at 974.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN), rising 12.44 per cent to close at $1.08. Shares in Mineral Deposits Limited (ASX:MDL) and Imdex Limited (ASX:IMD) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST), dropping 9.31 per cent to close at $1.31. Shares in Saracen Mineral Holdings Limited (ASX:SAR) and Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

Diversified Explorer Fortunis Resources Limited (ASX:FOT) started trading today with an issue price of $0.20 opening at $0.24 and a closing price of $0.24.    
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,703 an ounce. Light crude is $0.66 up at $US88.83 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.054.