Market Wrap: Aussie shares close higher

Market Reports

The local share market has closed the session higher today, with gains in the banks and miners helping to lift the market after a surprise profit downgrade by Macquarie Group had investors rattled this morning.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is up 34 points to finish at 4,576. And on the futures market, the SPI200 is up 55 points.

To company news around this afternoon: Aussie coal miner Gloucester Coal Ltd (ASX:GCL) says it has raised $7 million from retail investors. Eligible retail investors were offered three new shares for every five existing shares held at an offer price of $9.25 a share. Adding to the $434 million raised from institutional investors, the total raised under the company’s capital raising came to $441 million. Gloucester had originally hoped to raise $455 million with the funds to be used to acquire Noble Group’s stake in the Middlemount coal mine in Queensland. Shares in Gloucester Coal closed 0.4% weaker at $12.40.

Jetset Travelworld Ltd (ASX:JET) will join with Stella Travel Services, after shareholders voted in favor of the merger at a meeting today. Last week the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission gave the deal the thumbs up, saying that the merger is unlikely to lessen competition in the travel industry. Jetset Travelworld Chairman, Tom Dery says the company is delighted that shareholders have supported the merger, and is now looking forward to getting on with the job. Shares in Jetset Travelworld closed steady at $0.82.

Also making news: Gold explorer Norton Gold Fields Ltd (ASX:NGF) shares rose today on news that the miner has completed a litigation settlement with collapsed investment bank Lehman Brothers, in relation to hedging arrangements it had with Lehman.

Cougar Energy Ltd (ASX:CXY) says it will install four additional monitoring wells and provide further data on its Kingaroy coal gasification project in an effort to try and get the pilot plant back up and going. The plant was closed after traces of toxins were found in water used by a neighbouring property.

Macquarie Group Ltd (ASX:MQG) says it expects a 25 per cent drop in first half profit. For the year to March 31, 2011, the investment bank anticipates profit to be broadly in line with fiscal 2010, if market activity returns to normal levels during the second half of the current fiscal year.

And shares in Andean Resources Ltd (ASX:AND) rose today following news the company has agreed to a $3.75 billion takeover offer from Canada’s Goldcorp Inc. The offer trumps a bid made by Eldorado Gold Corp last week.

In the best and worst performers: Majority of sectors closed in the black today, the best performing at close was the Telco Services sector with the index up 15 points at 985. The sector with the smallest gain at close was the Energy sector with the index up 24 points at 15,008.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Lynas Corp shares were 15.35% higher at $1.24. The company today announced a 19.4% increase to its resource estimate at its Mount Weld project in Western Australia. Shares in Straits Resources and Mineral Resources also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Macquarie Group with shares falling 4.7% to close at $35.25. Shares in AMP fell, the stock going ex-dividend today, with shares in Cudeco also closing weaker.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1249 US an ounce. And light crude is down $0.25 at $74.35 US a barrel.