Market Wrap - 02/02/10, 5.09pm EST

Market Reports

The local share market has closed higher today, the central bank’s decision to leave rates unchanged giving retail stocks a boost, and a brighter outlook for oil and metals demand drove mining stocks up helping to lift the market.

In a surprise move the RBA left interest rates unchanged at 3.75% today. In response NAB, the Commonwealth Bank and Westpac have decided to also leave variable interest rate mortgages steady.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 81 points higher at 4,605 while on the futures market, the SPI200’s up 64.

To company news around this afternoon: Provider of integrated logistics services Toll Holdings Ltd (ASX:TOL) has acquired US freight forwarding and supply chain businesses Summit Logistics International for $80 million. Toll says Summit generates annual revenue of around $300 million and is one of the top providers of ocean freight services on a key trade line, the trans-pacific route between greater China and North America. Managing Director Paul Little says the company has been investigating US-based opportunities for some time and this is an important acquisition for the group which is expected to be earnings per share accretive in year one. Toll Holdings shares closed 1.17% weaker at $8.48.

Gas explorer Arrow Energy Ltd (ASX:AOE) has released a statement today saying it has identified and advanced a number of options for funding its proposed Fisherman’s Landing LNG project in Gladstone. Arrow says the options include corporate and project debt finance, export credit agency supported debt finance, partnering with infrastructure investors to develop and fund key infrastructure assets, joint venture interest sell downs or an equity raising. The company’s shares took a hit on Monday after questions were raised over whether the company would need to raise funds to build the proposed project. Arrow says also included in its funding options are a number of milestone payments that can be earned under its agreement with Shell. Shares in Arrow Energy closed 5.07% stronger at $3.73.

Also making news: Hills Industries Ltd (ASX:HIL) shares jumped today after the company upgraded its full year earnings forecast after reporting a better than expected half year profit. Net operating profit for the 12 months to June 30, 2010 is expected to come in between $36 million and $42 million.

Mincor Resources NL (ASX:MCR) has told shareholders it expects a substantial increase in first half profit compared to the same time last year, saying it now expects net profit after tax for the half year to December 31, 2009 of $14 million based on profit before tax of around $19.9 million and gross revenues of approximately $94 million.

Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) has completed the sale of the Alcan Packaging businesses to Amcor Ltd (ASX:AMC) for US$1.948 billion.

And Engineering and construction company UGL Ltd (ASX:UGL) has been awarded a $120 million contract with Melbourne Water.

In the best and worst performers: Majority of sectors closed in positive territory today, however the sector at close with the biggest gain was the Real Estate Investment Trust index, which was up 33 points at 889. One of the sectors with the smallest gains at close was the Health Care index; which rose 29 points to 8,279.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Macarthur Coal shares gained 13.03% to $9.89. Shares in Hills Industries and Medusa Mining also improved.

The worst performing stock was Ardent Leisure shares lost 3.09% to $1.57. Healthscope and Charter Hall Group shares also closed lower today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1,103.85 U.S an ounce and light crude is up 30 cents at $74.73 U.S a barrel.

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