Market Wrap: ASX booms in broad rally

Market Reports

The Australian share market has rallied across all major sectors to close 1.7 per cent higher ahead of the Anzac Day trading holiday, with the market climbing to its biggest rise since Mid-March after lower than anticipated inflation data raised investor hopes of a May rate cut. 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 86 points up to finish at 5,102. 
 
The value of trades was $7.2 billion on volume of 1 billion shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)and National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB). On the futures market the SPI is 105 points up.
 
Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the price of Australian consumer goods and services rose 0.4 per cent in the March quarter. That was better than the expected 0.6 per cent increase, bringing the annual rate to 2.5 per cent.
 
Company news 
 
Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) boss Peter Coleman says the oil and gas giant’s decision to shelve its $45 billion Browse gas plant in Western Australia is by no means the end of its plans to develop the Browse resource. Speaking at Woodside’s AGM in Perth, Mr Coleman says he is confident the company can begin basis design work on new concepts in the near future. Shares in Woodside closed 2.05 per cent up at $38.74. 
 
Brambles Limited (ASX:BXB) has maintained its full year underlying profit guidance of between $US1.03 and $US1.06 billion, driven by growth in its pooling solutions operations. The pellet provider lifted its sales revenue by 4 per cent to $US4.35 billion in the nine months to the end of March. Shares in Brambles closed 1.73 per cent up at $8.80. 
 
Pharmaceutical company Pharmaxis Limited (ASX:PXS) shares took a battering today, plummeting over 50 per cent after a Phase 3 clinical trial of respiratory drug Bronchitol failed to meet its primary endpoint.
 
Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) stakeholder Singapore Airlines has increased its holding in Australia’s second largest carrier to 19.9 per cent, just below the threshold that would require approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board. 
 
Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) has extended takeover talks with the Sycamore consortium led by the surfwear retailers former US boss Paul Naude.
 
Suncorp Group Limited’s (ASX:SUN) banking arm has reported a spike in its loan book for the March quarter, with lending jumping 11.2 per cent to $46.7 billion on the back of strong business and home lending growth. 
 
Best and worst performers

All the major sectors finished in positive territory today: The best performer was Utilities adding 127 points to close at 5,816.
The worst performing sector was Telco services, adding 13 points to close at 1,681.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Coalspur Mines Limited (ASX:CPL), rising 19.23 per cent to close at $0.47. Shares in The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS) and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR), dropping 6.82 per cent to close at $1.02. Shares in St. Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) and Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,427 an ounce. Light crude is $0.52 up at $US89.70 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.024.