Market Wrap: ASX ends day and week higher

Market Reports

by Lelde Smitts

The Australian share market today closed higher for the day and week. Local stocks jumped at open as investors cheered the European Central Bank’s bond buying program but stocks retreated from highs as caution prevailed ahead of America’s monthly jobs report. 

The S&P/ASX 200 index added 13 points today to end the week 10 points higher at 4,326. On the futures market the SPI is 14 points higher. 

Wall Street, over its three trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 291 points, the S&P 500 Index added 33 points, the Nasdaq added 87 points and the 100 Index added 76 points. 

Economic news

Australia’s trade deficit has widened more than expected as both exports and imports fell. The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported the balance on goods and services was a deficit of $556 million in July, compared to a deficit of $227 million the month before. 
Australia’s construction sector has contracted for the 27th consecutive month. The Australian Industry Group’s performance of construction index has shown construction activity fell to 32.2 points in August, from 36.6 points the month before and under 50, indicating contracting activity. 

Company news

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) has followed Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and cut its fixed home loan rates just days after the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) kept rates steady at 3.5 per cent. Westpac has cut 0.2 of a percentage point off its one-and two-year rates and 0.5 of a percentage point of its five year rates. Shares in Westpac lost 0.84 per cent today, finishing the week at $23.70.

News Corp (ASX:NWS) has revised its takeover offer for James Packer’s pay TV investment company Consolidated Media Holdings Limited (ASX:CMJ) from $3.50 to $3.45 cash cents per share plus a 6 cent dividend. Shares in News Corp rose 1.45 per cent today, finishing the week at $23.86.
Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) lost 0.76 per cent after its Australian arm Optus lost an appeal in the High Court against the Australian Football League (AFL), National Rugby League (NRL) and Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) to broadcast football and rugby league games on mobiles and online.
Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) advanced 7.48 per cent as the iron ore producer’s chief told Dow Jones Newswires of the company’s commitment to its iron ore expansion and revealed it is in talks to sell its interest of a uranium prospect.
Galaxy Resources Limited (ASX:GXY) rose 6.82 per cent as the mining, chemicals and battery company confirmed the ramp up of its Jiangsu Plant in China is progressing ahead of schedule. 

Regis Resources Limited (ASX:RRL) dipped 0.2 per cent despite the gold producer increasing its annual net profit 88 per cent to $68 million in fiscal 2012. 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was materials adding 219 points to close at 9,439.
The worst performing sector was health care, losing 169 points to close at 10,201 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Panoramic Resources Limited (ASX:PAN), rising 14.61 per cent to close at $0.51. Shares in Gryphon Minerals Limited (ASX:GRY) and Mount Gibson Iron Limited (ASX:MGX) also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was APN News and Media Limited (ASX:APN), dropping 4.69 per cent to close at $0.30. Shares in Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) and Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) also closed lower. 

Etherstack (ASX:ESK) started trading today: The wireless communications software company listed with an issue price of $2.00, opened at $1.65 and closed at $1.70. 

Gold is trading at $US1,695 an ounce, up $3.80 over the week.
Light crude is down $0.34 at $U95.82 a barrel.

The Australian dollar 

The Australian dollar is buying $US1.033, steady over the week. 

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