Market Wrap: Aus shares retreat from 20-month high

Market Reports

The Australian share market slipped lower in the afternoon session, retreating from a 20-month high before closing slightly higher despite The Bank of Japan’s announcement it would adopt a 2 per cent inflation target and further loosen monetary policy and ahead of Wall St resuming trade tomorrow.

Today, the S&P/ASX 200 index closed 2 points up to finish at 4,779.
 
The value of trades was $3.4 billion on volume of 615 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA).
 
On the futures market the SPI is 2 points higher.
 
Company news 
 
Consumer and industrial goods conglomerate GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD) posted a 21 per cent drop in net profit to $18.2 million in its first half figures. The conglomerate says its result was largely impacted by a decline in sales for its Oates and Sunbeam branded goods. An interim dividend of $0.26 per share fully franked was declared. GUD says its consumer business will remain under pressure in the second half but expects to maintain a strong financial position. Separately, the company announced its Managing Director, Ian Campbell will step down in July. Shares in GUD Holdings closed 1.79 per cent down at $8.24.
 
Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) has awarded Macmahon Holdings Limited (ASX:MAH) a five year $1.8 billion contract for its Christmas Creek Mine expansion. Macmahon says it is the largest single mining contract it has ever been awarded and lifts the mining contractor’s order book to a record $3.6 billion. Shares in Fortescue closed 2.43 per cent up at $4.64.

Engineering firm Downer EDI Limited (ASX:DOW) has won a contract worth more than $90 million for rail infrastructure work in New South Wales.  
 
Mirabela Nickel Limited (ASX:MBN) has reported annual production results in line with its guidance and lifted its 2013 production target.  
 
Gage Roads Brewing Co Limited (ASX:GRB) has inked an exclusive brewing agreement with a new customer called McLaren Vale Beer Company based in South Australia. 

Finbar Group Limited (ASX:FRI) expects to beat last year’s record annual net profit on the back of a boost in revenue after completing its first Pilbara apartment project.

Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was utilities adding 49 points to close at 5,446.The worst performing sector was health care, losing 74 points to close at 11,830 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY) rising 6.77 per cent to close at $2.05. Shares in FKP Property Group and Emeco Holdings also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) dropping 5.88 per cent to close at $1.84. Shares in Transfield Services and Sirtex Medical also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,693 an ounce. Light crude is $0.09 up at $US96.13 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying $US1.055.