Market Wrap: Aus shares up 1%

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 1 per cent higher.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 49  points up to finish at 5,157 points despite a negative lead from offshore on the back of strength in the banks. 
 
The value of trades was $5.6 billion on volume of 916 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP, WBC and CBA
 
 
On the futures market the SPI is 48 points up.
 
Economic news

The number of home loans issued fell 3.9 percent in January. Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics missed estimates as lending to both investors and owner-occupiers took a hit. 

Company news
 
Vicinity Centred RE Limited (ASX:VCX) has announced that Moody’s Investors Services has added Vicinity to its coverage, assigning the retail property group an investment-grade credit issuer rating of A2 with a stable outlook. Moody’s said the rating reflects Vicinity’s strong market position. This follows Standard & Poor’s affirmation of its a- rating of Vicinity, with a revised rating outlook to positive from stable.Vicinity closed 1.62 per cent up at $3.13. 
 
Vita Group Limited (ASX:VTG) has announced that its Telstra Dealer and Master Licence Agreement has been extended to 31 December 2020. CEO Maxine Horne said Vita Group and Telstra have enjoyed a mutually beneficial strategic partnership for 21 years. Ms Horne said the extension of the agreement sets the company for continued growth and mutual benefits.Shares in Vita Group closed 3.23 per cent down at $3.00. 
 
Fortescue Metals Limited (ASX:FMG) has defended itself in a letter to the ASX, saying share price activity on Monday 8th March was consistent with iron ore market and futures trading, together with the high level of short trading in Fortescue shares.
 
Onthehouse Holdings (ASX:OTH) has received a revised, conditional takeover proposal from a consortium of 77 Victoria Street Trust and Macquarie unit PIQ1 Pty Limited. The sweetened offer now stands at 85 cents per Onthehouse share.
 
Spark Infrastructure RE Limited (ASX:SKI) has announced the appointment of Paul Italiano as the new Chief Executive Officer of TransGrid.
 
Gateway Lifestyle Group (ASX:GTY) is undertaking a fully underwritten $120 million equity raising, to fund the purchase of six manufactured home estates for a combined consideration of $49.3 million.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Financials excluding REITs adding 1. 7 per cent to close at 6,678. The worst performing sector was Energy, losing 2.7 per cent to close at 7,834 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Programmed Maintenance Services (ASX:PRG), rising 8.74 per cent to close at $1.55. Shares in Mesoblast (ASX:MSB) and Slater & Gordon (ASX:SGH) also closed higher. The worst performing stock was Worely Parsons (ASX:WOR), dropping 8.94 per cent to close at $5.40. Shares in AWE Limited (ASX:AWE) and Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) also closed lower. 

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,254 an ounce.
Light crude is $1.40 down at $US36.50 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7432.
 

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