Market Wrap: Third week of gains for ASX

Market Reports

The Australian share market finished 0.589 per cent higher, capping off the end of a positive trading week and the third straight week of gains.
The S&P/ASX200 Index gained 25 points to finish at 4,240. For the week, the index gained 44 points. On the futures market, the SPI is up 22 points.
Wall Street
Over its trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 153 points. The S&P 500 Index gained 19 points, the Nasdaq gained 64 points, and the 100 Index is up 60 points. 
Economic news
The Commonwealth Bank’s business sales indicator shows that value of credit and debit card transactions at retail stores fell 9.3 per cent last year.
Company news
Hastings Diversified Fund (ASX:HDF) released its target statement today rejecting the hostile bid from larger rival APA Group for $1.8 billion. Hastings says the offer was too low and opportunistic, and doesn’t recognise the revenue growth that would be achieved by its pipelines that are strategically located around natural and coal seam gas reserves. Hastings shares closed 0.5 per cent higher, at $2.
The head of Wesfarmers’ (ASX:WES) insurance arm, Robert Scott, says Australia’s insurance industry is in a strong condition, given a year of a record number of natural disasters forcing up premiums and squeezing margins. His defence of the local industry comes after Wesfarmers slashed its earnings forecast. Wesfarmers lost 0.43 per cent today and finished the week at $30.24.
All African Iron Limited (ASX:AKI) directors have officially accepted Exxaro’s (JSE:EXX) offer for all of the shared and listed options it controls. African Iron’s largest shareholder, Cape Lambert Resources (ASX:CFE) accepted Exxaro’s offer for shares equivalent to 19.99 per cent of African Iron this week.
Oil and gas producer Nexus Energy Limited (ASX:NXS) has inked a deal with Shell Development (Australia) Pty Ltd and Osaka Gas Crux Pty Ltd to development its Crux gas liquids resource off Western Australia. 

Sectors and stocks
The best performing sector was energy, gaining 152.5 points to close at 13,759. The worst performing sector was consumer staples, losing 37 points to close at 7,409 points. 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 20, on speculation the Malaysian government will grant its facility a temporary licence, was Lynas, up 11.3 per cent to $1.28, followed by Iluka and Goodman. The worst performing stock was Mesoblast, down 3.71 per cent at $6.48 followed by Linc Energy and Abacus.
Gold is trading at $US1,657.13 an ounce and gained $20.64 over the week. Light crude is up by 35 cents to $US100.74 a barrel, and is up $1.53 higher on the week.
The Australian dollar is buying $1.0412 US cents, up about one cent on the week. 

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