Market Wrap: Shares close above 5000 level

Market Reports

The local share market has managed to cling onto gains this afternoon closing above the 5,000 mark for the first time in about 19 months. Strong economic growth in China and a positive lead from Wall St overnight on strong corporate earnings flowed through to the local market today.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 7 points higher at 5,002. While on the futures market, the SPI200’s up 11.

To company news around this afternoon: Pharmaceutical company Sigma Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:SIP) CEO Elmo De Alwis has resigned. In a statement to the ASX, the company says Mr De Alwis has agreed to continue his role until the board has identified and appointed his replacement, with a search now underway. Last month the company announced a $390 million loss due to a huge write-down related to its generic drugs business. In earlier news today Sigma is reportedly trying to negotiate with its key customers, Pulse Pharmacy and Chemist Warehouse to try and stop them from defecting to rivals. Shares in Sigma Pharmaceuticals closed steady at $0.54.

Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) has nudged up its production guidance for iron ore after reporting a 39% rise in first quarter output driven by an increase in demand from China. Rio says it expects to produce around 234 million tonnes this year, up slightly from its previous guidance of 230 million tonnes. Since February 2008, the miner has completed asset sales worth US$10 billion including US$3.5 billion of previously announced divestments in the first quarter of 2010. CEO Tom Albanese says the long term outlook remains very strong and the company is now ramping up its growth projects with sustained investment in its iron ore business and the start of development of Oyu Tolgoi. Shares in Rio Tinto closed 0.06% lower at $80.05.

Also making news: Coal & Allied Industries Ltd (ASX:CNA) has reported a 20% drop in output to 4.2 million tonnes in the March quarter compared to the same period a year ago with sales down 28%.

Oil and gas producer Petsec Energy Ltd (ASX:PSA) says it is on schedule to meet its production forecasts for 2010 of 4.4 billion cubic feet equivalent and revenues of about US$30 million.

Regional lender Bank of Queensland Ltd (ASX:BOQ) has reported a 96% rise in half year profit today and says it is in a far stronger position than it had been at the start of the global financial crisis.

And iron ore miner Oz Minerals Ltd (ASX:OZL) says copper and gold production in the March quarter was in excess of expectations and upwardly revised its production guidance for 2010 to 2012.

In the best and worst performers: The best performing sector at close was the Real Estate Investment Trust index, up 14 points at 895. The worst performing sector was the Telco Services index; down 17 points at 1,067.

Roc Oil was the best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200, shares rose 7.23% to $0.445, while shares in Energy World Corp and Ausenco also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Mermaid Marine Australia, shares fell 4.17% to $2.76. Shares in Elders and Eastern Star Gas also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1,157.20 U.S an ounce and light crude is up $0.27 to $86.11 U.S a barrel.

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