Market Wrap: Aus shares end 1.14% higher

Market Reports

Takeover talks and a bullish metals outlook boosted the Aussie sharemarket today, closing 1.14 per cent higher in a positive day of trading.
 
The S&P/ASX200 Index gained 47 points to finish at 4,152. On the futures market, the SPI is 47 points higher.
 
Economic news
 
Growth in China's exports and imports slowed in December from the previous month. Exports rose 13.4 per cent to $US174.72 billion ($A170.97 billion), compared with a rise of 13.8 per cent in November. Imports increased 11.8 per cent to $US158.2 billion ($A154.80 billion) in December, compared with a rise of 22.1 per cent in November.
 
Back on home turf the Bureau of Statistics says building approvals rose a seasonally adjusted 8.4 per cent to 11,424 in November, after an unexpected 10 per cent dive in October to an upwardly revised 10,539, breaking a run of two straight monthly falls and beating analyst expectations.
 
Company news
 
Pacific Equity Partners is set to walk away from its takeover bid of Spotless Group Limited (ASX:SPT) - it’s rejected the demand that it raises its takeover bid to $2.80 a share. PEP says there’s no justification for increasing its proposal of $2.68. The cleaning and hospitality services company would be valued at $743 million if the bid were to be raised to $2.80.  Spotless closed 0.84 per cent lower, at $2.35.
 
Insurance Australia Group (ASX:IAG), the nation’s top car and home insurer, warned that claims from hailstorms in Victoria over Christmas will push first half net netural peril claim costs above its alloweance. Shares in IAG ended the day 2.06 per cent higher on the news, and finished at $2.97.
 
Alumina Limited’s (ASX:AWC) shares lifted today after its joint venture partner Alcoa (NYSE:AA) gave a seven per cent growth forecast outlook for aluminium demand this year, compared with 10 per cent last year and 12 per cent in China.
 
Perseus Mining (ASX:PRU) shares also lifted today on the news that it’s successfully started commercial production at its Edikan gold mine in Ghana. Shares shot up seven per cent on the news.
 
Pacific Brands Limited’s (ASX:PBG) confirmed it’s in talks with US private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, and is considering the offer. The announcement sent share soaring by as much as 20 per cent during the trading day.
 
Gold miner Ramelius Resources Limited (ASX:RMS) says production and sales were lower in the December quarter because of repair works, but has forecast improvements for the first quarter of calendar 2012.

All sectors closed in positive territory
 
The best performer was energy, gaining 235 points to close at 13,063. 
 
The worst performing sector was utilities, but it was still up 20 points to close at 4,633. 
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200, was Pacific Brands, gaining 14.29 per cent to close at 64 cents, followed by Perseus and Alumina.
 
The worst performing stock was Mesoblast dropping 4.25 per cent to close at $6.09 cents. Shares in IOOF Holdings and Sigma Pharmaceuticals also closed lower.
 
Commodities
 
Gold is trading at $US1,618.50 an ounce. Light crude is down 25 cents to $US101.31 a barrel.