Market Wrap - 17/02/10 5.15pm EST

Market Reports

The local share market has closed the session higher today, notching its biggest one-day gain in two months, led by the major banks and miners, following a jump in commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 100 points higher at 4,668 while on the futures market, at 4pm the SPI200 was up 97 points. To company news around this afternoon: The world’s largest pallet maker, Brambles Ltd (ASX:BXB), has pinned a modest fall in first half profit on weaker conditions across its key markets in the US, UK and Spain. The company reported a 3% slip in profit for the half-year to $207 million, and sales revenue was down 2% to $2.086 billion. Underlying profit plunged 30% to $340.2 million, impacted by the rollout of the Better Everyday program in CHEP USA. But CEO Tom Gorman says the company is well-placed to return to growth as business conditions gradually improve. Shares in Brambles Ltd closed 5.86% stronger at $7.04. Professional services consultancy Coffey International Ltd (ASX: COF) has reported a 20% dive in first-half profit to $10.85 million, blaming a strong Aussie dollar and the global financial crisis. The company recorded earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortisation of $31.1 million for the half year, down 14% on the same period a year before. However, managing director Roger Olds says the company is well positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery in the Asia Pacific and other regions. Coffey has declared a fully franked interim dividend of 7.5 cents per share - down 1 cent. Shares in Coffey International closed 8.18% lower at $1.965. Also making news: Southern Uranium Ltd (ASX:SNU) has identified substantial iron ore potential at its Jungle Dam prospect on Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. Reassessment of drilling undertaken at the prospect in 2008 and 2009 shows the explorer encountered broad intervals with grades of over 30% iron. And Arrow Energy Ltd (ASX:AOE) has posted a loss of $16.3 million for the first half of fiscal 2010, after reporting a $241.2 million profit a year earlier. Taking a look at some of the stories covered in our earlier reports: AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (ASX:AXA) which is currently the target of two separate takeovers by AMP and NAB, has reported a profit of $679 million for the 2009 year after a loss the year before. And, soft-drink maker Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd (ASX:CCL) has posted a 16.4% rise in profit for 2009 and says it expects to deliver high single-digit earnings growth for the first half of 2010. In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector at close was the Financials excluding the Real Estate Investment Trust index, up 158 points at 5,429. At the other end, the worst performing sector at close was the Real Estate Investment Trust index; which closed flat at 850. The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Minara Resources, shares gained 15.45% to $0.71. Shares in Gindalbie Metals and Atlas Iron also improved. The worst performing stock was Isoft Group, shares fell 5.45% to $0.52. Primary Health Care and Sundance Resources shares also closed lower today. In commodities, gold is trading at $1,120.60 U.S an ounce and light crude is up 36 cents at $77.37 U.S a barrel.