Despite a negative start to the trading session, the Australian share market managed to pick up momentum throughout the session and close the day 0.26 per cent higher. The Utilities space was the star performer, followed by Staples and Healthcare. These gains were offset by losses in the materials space, following a drop in commodity prices overnight.
At the closing bell the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 15 points up to finish at 5,761.
The value of trades was $5.7 billion on volume of 896 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
On the futures market the SPI is 24 points up.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has once again kept interest rates on hold at a record low of 1.5 per cent at its March meeting this afternoon. The RBA says its decision was consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target of 2 to 3 per cent over time.
Creso Pharma Limited (ASX:CPH) says it has signed a binding Letter of Intent with high-tech Swiss food and pharma company Domaco. The medicinal cannabis and hemp product company says Domaco produces products for a number of large pharmaceutical and food companies including Blackmores (ASX:BKL). Under the agreement the parties will work together to develop two cannabinoid nutraceutical products for humans and one animal health product. Shares in Creso Pharma closed 20.78 per cent higher at $0.47.
Ardent Leisure Group (ASX:AAD) has reported a 35 per cent decline in revenue for February to $4.4 million.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted a Fast Track designation to regenerative medicine company, Mesoblast Ltd (ASX:MSB), for the use of its cell therapy (MSC-100-IV).
The Queensland government has issued the final approved, amended environmental authority for mining to re-commence at the Sarsfield open pit – a decision which benefits gold miner Resolute Mining Ltd (ASX:RSG).
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was Utilities adding 1.21 per cent to close at 8,352. The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 0.43 per cent to close at 9,984 points.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Isentia Group (ASX:ISD), rising 7.07 per cent to close at $1.67. Shares in Automotive Holdings (ASX:AHG) and Ardent Leisure (ASX:AAD) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Regis Resources (ASX:RRL), dropping 5.88 per cent to close at $3.04. Shares in Orocobre (ASX:ORE) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY) also closed lower.
Commodities and the dollar
Gold is trading at $US1,225 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.15 lower at $US53.18 a barrel.
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7620.