Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.25% higher

Market Reports

After trading lower for most of the day, the Australian share market has closed 0.24 of a per cent higher as big banks and miners trimmed earlier losses.  
 
Weekly Summary
 
Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 13 points up to finish at 5,423. 

Over the week the index gained 56 points. 
 
The value of trades was $3.46 billion on volume of 563 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 7 points higher.
 
Wall Street

US stocks have gained over the four trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 308 points. The S&P 500 Index added 40 points. The NASDAQ added 87 points. The 100 Index added 74 points. 
 
Overseas economic news
 
Responding to increasing fears around shadow banking, the China Banking Regulatory Commission has told the nation's banks to step up controls on bad loans and strengthen their balance sheets. Local media has reported an internal document was sent to the banks in March saying they should also watch out on their bad loan ratio and that the commission will soon launch stress tests in various regions.
 
Company news 
 
Dual listed dairy foods supplier Fonterra (ASX:FSF) has been fined $300,000NZ by a Wellington court for causing a food-safety scare that damaged New Zealand's international reputation and saw products rejected from several markets.
 
Fonterra warned in August of 2013 that some of its products, used widely in infant formula, contained bacteria that could cause botulism due to sub-standard fit out at a manufacturing plant. The company was unable to confirm where around the world the products had been sent and an international product recall resulted, mostly in China. Shares in Fonterra closed 2.38 per cent down at $5.75. 
 
CSR Limited (ASX:CSR) and Boral Limited (ASX:BLD) have proposed a joint venture to combine their east coast brick operations. The building products manufacturers will approach the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seeking clearance for the transaction. 
 
The pair propose a split of 60 per cent to CSR and 40 to Boral, which reflects the company’s relative sizes. There is no cash consideration as part of the proposed joint venture. Combined revenue is forecast to reach about $230 million with efficiency gains aimed at reducing per unit costs of production. 
 
Boral chief executive Mike Kane said the Australian cladding industry has faced major changes in demand over the past 30 years resulting in a significant reduction in brick use.” Shares in CSR closed 0.84 per cent up at $3.60. 
 
The ACCC has given Transurban Group (ASX:TCL) the all clear to bid for Queensland Motorways tollroads after finding the acquisition would be “unlikely to substantially lessen competition.” 
 
They determined that the proposed acquisition would not enable Transurban to raise prospective rivals' costs through higher roaming fees.
 
The ACCC also said State governments’ responsibilities for awarding new tollroad concessions would likely constrain Transurban in relation to both the market and the supply of tollroad concessions. Shares in Transurban Group closed 0.69 per cent up.
 
Cloud based accounting software provider Xero Limited (ASX:XRO) has increased revenue by 83 per cent to $NZ 70 million with monthly committed subscriptions growing to $NZ7.78 million.
 
The Cloud-based accounting software company’s full year loss doubled to $NZ35 million following increases in staff numbers with their team growing to 758 in the past year, highlighting their focus on expansion, they have a pool of $210 million of cash to fund its growth.
 
The company has a dual listing in New Zealand where the strong local currency is adversely impacting revenue, given 66% of incomings are in foreign currencies.
 
Strong growth is expected to continue as Xero turns its focus to the important US market. Shares in Xero closed 2.32 per cent up.
 
The best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Health Care adding 85 points to close at 14,603. The worst performing sector was Telcos, losing 10 points to close at 1,773 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Skilled Group Limited (ASX:SKE), rising 5.7 per cent to close at $2.78. Shares in Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) and Bradken Limited (ASX:BKN) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Ozforex Group Limited (ASX:OFX), dropping 3.76 per cent to close at $3.07. Shares in Mesoblast Limited (ASX:MSB) and Trade Me Group Limited (ASX:TME) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

The price of gold is buying $US1,288 an ounce, and is down $7.00 over the week. Light crude is $0.67 higher at $US100.29 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying $0.9234 which is flat for the week.