Market Wrap: Aus shares close 0.9% higher

Market Reports

Following positive leads the Australian share market opened higher this morning, climbing throughout the day to close 0.9 per cent up. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 40 points up to finish at 4,370. Over the week the index rose 93 points. On the futures market, the SPI is 50 points up.

All US indices closed higher over their trading days this week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 85 points, the S&P 500 Index rose 13 points, the Nasdaq gained 44 points and the 100 Index added 49 points.

Company news

Alumina Limited (ASX:AWC) has posted a first half loss of $13.95 million as the miner continues to suffer from China’s control over aluminium prices.
Chief executive John Bevan said that current prices have resulted in a significant portion of non-Chinese smelters operating below break-even. Mr Bevan said that while the short term outlook remains volatile, Alumina is encouraged by the continued strong physical demand for aluminium and some positive catalysts for improved alumina pricing. Shares in Alumina closed 4.14 per cent down at $0.70.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) chief executive Mike Smith has extended a pay freeze for the bank’s senior executives in an effort to cut costs and offset subdued lending growth. Mr Smith said that the move demonstrates responsibility in a constrained cost environment. He believes ANZ is well positioned despite a slowdown in the Asian region where the bank is heavily exposed. ANZ increased its unaudited underlying profit by 5.5 per cent to $4.5 billion in the nine months to the end of June 2012. Shares in ANZ closed 2.97 per cent higher at $24.61.

Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has awarded engineering services company Norfolk Group Limited (ASX:NFK) a $56 million contract to work on a new radio based signalling system on Fortescue's track duplication project in Western Australia.

Oil and gas producer Santos Limited (ASX:STO) today reported a fall in its first half net profit, dropping 48 per cent to $262 million. Santos has declared a fully franked dividend of 15 cents per share.

Best and worst performers 

All sectors closed higher today, the best performer was consumer staples adding 156 points to close at 8, 518.
The sector with the least gains was telco services, rising 1 point to close at 1,338 points.

The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Bathurst Resources Limited (ASX:BTU), rising 11.54 per cent to close at $00.43. Shares in Panoramic Resources Limited (ASX:PAN) and OceanaGold Corporation (ASX:OGC) also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was APN News and Media Limited (ASX:APN), dropping 10.64 per cent to close at $0.42. Shares in Intrepid Mines Limited (ASX:IAU) and QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) also closed lower.

Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,616 an ounce, and is down $3.23 over the week. Light crude is $0.54 lower at $US95.06 a barrel.

The Australian dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.048, and is just over $0.01 lower over the week.


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