The big news today was the Reserve Bank’s decision to keep interest rates steady at 2.25 per cent for April. After pushing higher throughout the morning, the local market dipped sharply lower on the announcement coming close to negative territory before recovering to close almost 0.5 per cent higher.
The dollar went in the opposite direction; it shot above the $US0.77 during the afternoon as demand for the currency grew in light of relatively high interest rates set to remain for at least another month.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 27 points up to finish at 5,926.
The value of trades was $5.2 billion on volume of 669 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
, National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 31 points up.
BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX:BSL)
has announced the retirement of Deputy Chairman Ron McNeilly with immediate effect. The steel manufacturer says Mr McNeilly was a foundation board member and has played an important role since the company demerged from BHP in 2002. The company says the retirement is further step in the board’s previously announced renewal program. Bluescope Steel closed 0.98 per cent down at $4.06
Leighton Holdings Limited (ASX:LEI)
Middle Eastern arm Habtoor Leighton Group has scored a $US608 million contract. The engineering company will construct the mega reservoir and pumping stations for Qatar’s General Electricity and Water Corporation. Leighton says the reservoirs have a capacity of 100 million gallons each and are the largest reinforced concrete reservoirs in the world. Shares in Leightons closed 1.49 per cent up at $21.15.
Takeover target PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA)
says it is considering its latest takeover bid while also reporting increased production and reduced costs in the March quarter.
Phylogica Limited (ASX:PYC)
has entered a licensing agreement with a UK based private biotechnology company called PhoreMost Limited.
Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP)
has struck an agreement to sell the Aspley Village Shopping Centre in Queensland to an unnamed buyer.
Regeneus Limited (ASX:RGS)
says it has successfully manufactured Progenza, an off-the-shelf cell therapy product, for clinical trial.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was energy adding 1.2 per cent to close at 10,892. The worst performing sector was consumer discretionary, losing 0.2 per cent to close at 1,983 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (ASX:LNG)
, rising 8.61 per cent to close at $3.66. Shares in MMA Offshore Limited (ASX:MRM)
and Sundance Energy Australia Limited (ASX:SEA)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Mesoblast limited (ASX:MSB)
, dropping 6.55 per cent to close at $3.28. Shares in McMillan Shakespeare Limited (ASX:MMS)
and Arrium Limited (ASX:ARI)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,214 an ounce.
Light crude is $3.00 up at $US52.14 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7691