Market Wrap: ASX delivers buoyant weekly open

Market Reports

After dropping over last week the Australian share market has delivered a buoyant weekly open, lifting 0.3 per cent by close and snapping four days of losses. Disregarding negative offshore leads and disappointing US jobs figures, local stocks spent the day in positive territory – supported by strength among the miners.

The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 14 points ending the session at 4,906. 
The value of trades was $3.5 billion on volume of 650 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 10 points higher.

Economic news

Australia's building activity continued to contract last month. The Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association’s Performance of Construction Index sank 6.6 points to 39 points in March, remaining below 50 for the 34th straight month which indicates contracting activity.

After rising for two months job ads pulled back last month. ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) job advertisements series reveals job ads fell 1.5 per cent in March after rising 3 per cent in February and gaining 0.6 per cent in January 2013.

Company news

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) have scored a new currency deal with China which could cut the cost of doing business in the world’s second largest economy. The People’s Bank of China has approved licences for the Australian banks to trade Australian dollars and Chinese Yuan on China’s mainland. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has applauded the announcement as a big step forward for Australia and an important foundation stone for future opportunities. Shares in Westpac Banking Corporation rose 0.89 per cent today, ending the session at $30.52. 
Ruralco Holdings Limited (ASX:RHL) has issued a profit warning – predicting its first half underlying net profit could drop by up to 70 per cent from last year’s $11 million. The rural services group has blamed poor industry wide conditions resulting in lower livestock prices. While Ruralco expects first half net profit to break-even it has forecast a significantly improved trading performance in the second half [of fiscal 2013]. Shares in Ruralco Holdings retreated 6.95 per cent today, ending the session at $3.08. 
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) has appointed Stuart Machin as the new managing director of its mid-market department store Target, following the resignation of Dene Rogers after only 18 months in the role. 
Boart Longyear Limited ’s (ASX:BLY) says its Chief Financial Officer Joseph Raglan will be departing. While a date for his departure has not been given the drilling company says it remains committed to implementing a leaner, more sustainable cost structure.

Shares in Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR) ended as one of the top 200’s best performers after vowing to work with Resource Development Group Limited (ASX:RDG) subsidiary Pacer Corporation to reach a mutually acceptable outcome over the Tuckabianna project in Western Australia.
Shares in Southern Cross Goldfields Limited (ASX:SXG) surged 15 per cent after inking a merger deal with Polymetals Mining Limited (ASX:PLY) to create a new diversified Australian gold company. 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was consumer discretionary adding 17 points to close at 1,584.
The worst performing sector was telco services, losing 13 points to close at 1,546 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX, rising 6.38 per cent to close at $0.50. Shares in Transpacific Industries Group Limited (ASX:TPI) and Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN), dropping 5.34 per cent to close at $2.66. Shares in Discovery Metals Limited (ASX:DML) and Imdex Limited (ASX:IMD) also closed lower. 

Gold is trading at $US1,576 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.27 up at $US92.97 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.038.