Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.2% higher

Market Reports

Following positive leads, the Australian share market opened higher but dropped to where it began after the Reserve Bank of Australia's interest rate decision. Local equities gained some ground before close, to end 0.2 per cent up.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index was 8 points up to finish at 4,337. On the futures market, the SPI is currently 10 points up.

Economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia has left the official interest rate at 4.25 per cent. The central bank has left interest rates unchanged now for four consecutive months. Glenn Stevens, the Governor for monetary policy says growth in China has moderated but are not showing signs of further deterioration. Mr Stevens also says, forthcoming key data on inflation would be required before considering an ease in monetary policy.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported an increase in retail sales by 0.2 per cent in February following a 0.3 per cent rise in January.

Company news

Mining group OneSteel Limited (ASX:OST) intends to change its name to Arrium. The company says a name change is a natural progression in order to reflect the expansion of its business in recent years. OneSteel says it no longer sees itself as a domestic focused steel company but a mining, mining consumables and steel business with a global orientation. The OneSteel brand will still be applied to its Australian steel and recycling businesses. OneSteel will be holding an Extraordinary General Meeting next month, to vote on its name change.Shares in OneSteel closed 0.4 per cent up at $1.27.

Aquila Resources Limited (ASX:AQA) has entered into an agreement with Sumisho Coal Australia Pty Ltd via its wholly owned subsidiaries Argos Queensland Pty Ltd and Aquila Coal Pty Ltd. The joint venture will cover coal exploration in Queensland. Earlier today Aquila said it will divest its 50 per cent interest in the Isaac Plains Coal Mine for $430 million. Shares in Aquila closed 0.2 per cent up at $5.01.

Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) has completed the sale of its Parbury Decorative Surfaces and plastic moulding business to private company Borg Group for around $4 million.

Metcash Limited (ASX:MTS) will close 15 regional Campbells Cash & Carry branches and issue over 500 redundancies following the results of its strategic review of the company.

Gold explorer, Reed Resources Limited (ASX:RDR) is set to raise $40 million for the development of its Meekatharra gold project in Western Australia.

Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX:MND) has won $220 million worth of new construction and maintenance contracts in Western Australia and Queensland.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was Telco Services adding 20 points to close at 1,145.
The worst performing sector was Industrials, losing 12 points to close at 3,753.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) rising 4.47 per cent to close at $3.74. Shares in Ardent Leisure Group and Independence Group also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) dropping 5.56 per cent to close at $0.425. Shares in Metcash and CSR also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,679 an ounce. Light crude is $0.35 down at $US104.88 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0399.