Market Wrap: Aus shares up 1.08%

Market Reports

The Aussie sharemarket closed 1.08 per cent higher in what was a very busy day of budget news. Treasurer Wayne Swan’s announced $6.8 billion in spending cuts, so the budget can be returned to surplus in 2012-2013. The government now expects the economy to grow at a rate of 3.25 per cent this financial year, after the deficit has already blown out to more than $37 billion.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 Index today gained 44 points to finish at 4,102. On the futures market, the SPI is 56 points higher.

Economic

Ratings agency Fitch revised its outlook for the US today to negative, but upgraded Australia’s foreign currency issuer default rating to AAA from AA+.

Company news

Legislation has been passed in the South Australian state parliament to allow the development of BHP Billiton Limited’s (ASX:BHP) (NYSE:BHP) (LON:BHP) Olympic Dam. The miner now has the certainty it needs to go ahead with the $30 billion expansion of the existing copper and uranium project. Premier Jay Weatherill says the project will transform the state’s economic future. Shares in BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) closed 0.37 per cent higher today at $34.98 cents.

Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) says it’s going to deliver a “respectable” full-year result. Managing director Lindsay Partridge told shareholders today he’s expecting results similar to the first half of this year when the brick manufacturer reported a profit of $54.4 million, because of forward indicators like housing approvals and housing finance. Shares in Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW) closed 0.18 per cent higher at $11.

One of the last hurdles in Rio Tinto Limited’s (ASX:RIO) (NYSE:RIO) (LON:RIO) planned takeover of Hathor Exploration’s been removed: North American-focused miner Cameco’s dropped its hostile pursuit of the uranium company. Rio raised its offer this month to $C4.70 per share, exceeding Cameco’s $C4.50 per share offer.

Austar United Communications Limited (ASX:AUN) says it’s still in talks with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), after the competition regulator delayed its decision of its takeover bid for FOXTEL. Austar says it’s still chasing the takeover. The ACCC’s to announce a new proposed decision date in “due course”.

Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) executive chairman Gerry Harvey says Ireland may be on the road to recovery and despite losses in the troubled nation, he’s going to stick it out. He told shareholders today the retailer’s “biggest ray of sunshine” is Asia, after it recently opened the $38 million Spare Furniture superstore in Singapore.

And Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) says it’s in the final stages of completing the sale of its 50,000 hectare Green Triangle softwood forest estate in Victoria and South Australia. Net proceeds are expected to be $120 million.

Best and worst performers

Real Estate Investment Trusts were the best performing sector, up 22 points to 801. The worst performing sector was consumer staples but it still gained 27 points, closing at 7,439.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Cudeco, it rose 7.56 per cent to close at $3.84. Shares in Energy World Corporation and Paladin also finished stronger today.

The worst performing stock was Sundance Resources, it dropped 6.25 per cent to 0.37.5 cents, followed by APN and Oceanagold.

Commodities

The price of gold is $US1,710 an ounce and Light crude is down 55 cents at $US97.66 a barrel.