Market Wrap: Aus shares gain

Market Reports

The Australian share market finished 2.23 per cent higher this afternoon, after gaining more than one per cent in morning trade. The market rose 1.6 per cent mid afternoon after preliminary Chinese factory output data was released for August, edging up to 49.8 in August from the final reading of 49.3 in July.

The S&P/ASX200 Index closed 91.1 points higher at 4,173. On the futures market, the SPI is 94 points higher.

Company news

Foster’s Group Limited (ASX:FGL) reported a full year net loss to $89 million, down from a loss of $464 million the year before. The brewer said beer consumption fell eight per cent in the year, but it expects the rate of decline to moderate in the first half of fiscal 2012. Carlton Draught volume grew however for the 10th consecutive year, maintaining its position as the number one draught beer in the country. Foster’s declared an unfranked final dividend of 13.25 cents per share, making the total payout 25.25 cents. Shares in Foster’s Group Limited (ASX:FGL) ended the day 1.84 per cent higher at $4.99.

Origin Energy Limited's (ASX:ORG) net profit for the 2011 financial year dropped 70 per cent to $186 million, but revenue for the company rose 21 per cent to $10.34 billion for the same period. The company says it met its full year guidance, and posted a 15 per cent increase in underlying net profit and. Origin has forecast a 30 per cent rise in the year ahead. A final dividend of 25 cents per share has been declared, taking the full year payout to 50 cents per share. Shares in Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) closed 5.04 per cent higher today at $14.16.

Seek Limited (ASX:SEK) posted a nine per cent increase in full year net profit, to $97.7 million. The online job advertiser says it’s well-placed to take advantage of the move of jobs online, and declared a final fully franked dividend of 7.5 cents per share.

Seek’s previous owner, Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (ASX:CMJ), reported a 74 per cent fall in full year net profit for the 12 months to June, to $101.7 million, down from $392.04 million the year before. The company said the result was in fact because of the sale of Seek, but it still holds a stake in Seek Asia, a subsidiary of Seek Limited. Cons Media declared a final dividend of six cents per share, unfranked.

Flight Centre Limited (ASX:FLT), posted a flat full year profit of $139.8 million. The travel agent forecasts a 10 per cent increase in underlying profit for the year ahead, and declared a final fully franked dividend of 48 cents per share.

Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) posted a 91 per cent drop in full year net profit for the year to June, to $9.946 million, down from $114.9 million the year before. Despite higher production, the company says more wet weather than anticipated impacted the result. The company declared a final dividend of 4.1 cents, fully franked, up from 2.8 cents the year before.

Best and worst performers

Most sectors finished on positive ground today. The best performing sector was energy, the index gaining 414 points to close at 13,264. The worst performing sector was consumer staples, gaining 71 points to close at 7,509.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Bluescope (ASX:BSL) shares gained 12.75 per cent to close at 84 cents. Shares in Aquila Resources (ASX:AQA) and Monadelphous Group (ASX:MND) also gained today.

The worst performing stock was Billabong (ASX:BBG), shedding 6.8 per cent to close at $3.29. Shares in Tabcorp (ASX:TAH) and Sonic Health (ASX:SHL) also fell today.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,899.86 an ounce and Light crude is up 64 cents to $US85.06 a barrel.

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