Market Wrap: ASX lifted by mining stocks

Market Reports


The Australian share market closed 0.62 per cent higher on strong gains in the miners and the Aussie dollar leapt on favorable manufacturing figures from China.  
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 34 points up to finish at 5,453.
 
The value of trades was $4.07 billion on volume of 672 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) and ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 30 points up.
 
Company news
 
Metcash Limited (ASX:MTS) plans to significantly reinvest in its grocery division after posting an 18 per cent drop in its annual profit amid tough trading conditions. The grocery wholesaler reported a net profit of $169.2 million over the 2014 financial year, as underlying net profit fell 10.9 per cent to $250 million. The company cut its full year earnings guidance in March, citing costs associated with its strategic review and implementing changes. CEO Ian Morrice says Metcash is investing significantly in fiscal 2015 in a reshaped model for Metcash Food and Grocery and stronger growth in its other business pillars. Shares in Metcash lifted 2.89 per cent to $2.85 on the news. 
 
Envestra Limited (ASX:ENV) has today announced it expects full year profit for the end FY2014 to be at the upper end of guidance. The gas utility company is now expecting profit after tax of around $150 million compared to previous guidance of $145 - $150 million. This excludes any abnormal items which the company warns could include the impact recent warm weather may have on late gas trading volumes. Envestra also confirmed an off-market takeover offer of $1.32 per share has been received from Chinese investor CK ENV Investments. Envestra are currently in the process of ensuring acceptance of the offer will not put the 3.5c final dividend into dispute. The company is bringing the record date of the dividend forward so it falls outside of the Cheung Kong bid period. Envestra directors are placing their support behind the $1.32 offer. Shares in Envestra closed 0.37 per cent softer at $1.35. 
 
Property developer Stockland (ASX:SGP) has spent $58.1 million on two large parcels of land, adding to its residential portfolio in Perth.
 
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) has announced a joint venture for the Queens Wharf development project in Brisbane. The casino operator will be teaming up with Hong Kong based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and Far East Consortium. 
 
Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN) is recovering some of last week’s losses amid speculation private equity could come knocking. 
 
And shares in St Barbara Limited (ASX:SBM) took a hit despite news Bob Vassie is set to take over as Managing Director and CEO from Tim Le-hany at the beginning of the new financial year. 
 
Best and worst perfomers

All sectors made gains today, The best performing sector was materials adding 138 points to close at 9,825. The least best performing sector was utilities, gaining 10 points to close at 5,932 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Arruim, rising 6.75 per cent to close at $0.87. Shares in Atlas Iron and Aveo Group also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Wotif.com, dropping 3.6 per cent to close at $2.41. Shares in Paladin Energy and Northern Star Resources also closed lower. 

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,313 an ounce. Light crude is $0.83 up at $US107.26 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 94.37 US cents.