Market Wrap: Aussie market manages modest gain

Market Reports

After another quiet start to trade...the market gained some momentum by midday with many resources and banking stocks pushing ahead. It’s understood most of the recent negative news to hit the market has largely been factored in.

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 22 points higher at 4,756. On the futures market, the SPI is up 28 points.

In economic news: New Home Sales increased by 0.6 per cent in February. It follows a 2.5 per cent gain in January. The Housing Industry Association says recent extreme weather events suggested homes sales would be down in February.

In company news: Woolworths has told a Senate Enquiry that it is not selling its home-brand milk for below cost. It comes as Woolies and Coles engage in a price war on generic-branded milk. Foster’s torpedoed a beer price war when it withdrew supplies from the two supermarket chains. The price war has been extended to eggs and may also now extend to chicken. Concerns have been raised over the viability of the industries that supply the produce. Shares in Woolworths rose 0.95 per cent to close at $26.49. 

And Rio Tinto has declared its bid for Riversdale as unconditional. As the Offer is now unconditional, Riversdale shareholders who have accepted the Offer on or before today's date will be paid the $16.00 Offer price by 5 April 2011. Shares in Rio Tinto gained 0.55 per cent to close at $82.28. 

Also making news: Equinox has announced that an independent firm has backed a share issuance to Lundin stakeholders as part of its hostile 4.8 billion dollar bid. And Sandfire Resources says mining of its maiden open pit mine is on track to commence by mid 2011.

In other news: JB Hi-Fi has unveiled a 170 million dollar share buy-back...sending its shares soaring. It comes as former chief executive Richard Uechtritz re-joins the board. And Shares in ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals soared more than 50 per cent after the company announced its directors have unanimously backed an all-cash takeover offer from Cephalon...valuing ChemGenex at around $231 million.

In the best and worst performers: the best performing sector was the Consumer Discretionary sector with the index gaining 16 points to close at 1,488. The worst performing sector was the Real Estate Investment Trust, falling 3 points to close at 863.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was JB Hi-Fi.. shares rising 7.42 per cent to close at $19.83. Shares in Energy World and Ten Network also closed in positive territory today. The worst performing stock was Extract, shedding 5.11 per cent to close at $7.80. Shares in Infigen and Murchison Metals also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $US1,420 an ounce and Light crude is 18 cents weaker at $US103.80 a barrel.

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