Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.5% higher

Market Reports

Following mixed offshore leads, the Australian share market edged higher at open and climbed steadily throughout the day, led by a rally in Boral shares on the back of its restructuring announcement this morning. The market was also boosted by gains in financials to finish 0.5 per cent higher.  

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 22 points up to finish at 4,738.

The value of trades was $3.5 billion on volume of 700 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 11 points higher.

Economic news

The Westpac and Melbourne Institute’s index of consumer sentiment lifted 0.6 per cent to 100.6 in January. It is the third consecutive month the index has come in above 100, indicating consumer optimism regarding the economy.

New motor vehicle sales rose in December according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. 98,264 new vehicles were sold in the month, an increase of 2.2 per cent on November.

Company news

Boral Limited (ASX:BLD) investors responded positively to today’s announced restructuring, including 700 job cuts, with Boral shares jumping over 10 per cent after the announcement. CEO Mike Kane says the highest impact of the redundancies will be felt in New South Wales, which will account for 40 per cent of the total cuts. Shares in Boral closed 10.09 per cent up at $4.80, today’s best performing stock on the ASX.

Lend Lease Group (ASX:LLC) has secured planning permission to develop the master plan of its $1.5 billion regeneration of the Elephant and Castle in Central London. The Property Developer says the approval is a significant milestone for the project, which aims to deliver 2,500 new homes by 2025, alongside new shops, restaurants and community facilities. Shares in Lend Lease closed steady today at $9.77.

Australia’s two retail giants Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) and Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) have been ranked in the world’s top 20 retailers by the Deloitte Global Powers of Retailing study, the only two Australian retailers featuring on the list.

Precious Metals producer Straits Resources Limited (ASX:SRQ) has partially re-commenced mining activities at its Mt Muro operations in Indonesia.

Emerging Explorer Phoenix Gold Limited (ASX:PXG) has commenced its 2013 drilling program, as part of a $20 million accelerated drilling programme on its Kunanalling and Zuleika shear zones in Western Australia.

Australian Infrastructure Fund Limited (ASX:AIX) shareholders have decisively endorsed the Federal Governments Future Fund’s acquisition of its portfolio assets.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 272 points to close at 11,882.
The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 20 points to close at 10,562.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Boral Limited (ASX:BLD), rising 10.09 per cent to close at $4.80 as we saw earlier. Shares in FKP Property Group (ASX:FKP) and Energy World Corporation Limited (ASX:EWC) also closed higher.
 

The worst performing stock was Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI), dropping 4.08 per cent to close at $0.94. Shares in Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) and Aurora Oil & Gas Limited  (ASX:AUT) also closed lower.
 

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,682 an ounce. Light crude is $0.28 up at $US93.56 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.056.