Market Wrap: ASX positive ahead of Fed minutes

Market Reports

The Australian share market recovered in afternoon trade to finish 0.4 per cent higher ahead of the US Fed meeting minutes. Most of the major reporting companies posting gains, with the exception of Woodside Petroleum, which slipped 1.6 per cent despite a first half profit lift. BHP dragged the miners down after its loss yesterday, while the financial and industrial sectors saw gains.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 22 points up to finish at 5,100.  The value of trades was $4.22 billion on volume of 742 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 28 points up.
 
Economic news

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute has released its Leading Indexes of Economic Activity for June, showing a slowing of economic growth. The growth rate of the index was 3.6 per cent in the month, down from 4.9 per cent in May however above its long term trend of 2.9 per cent. 
 
Company news 
 
Billabong International Limited (ASX:BBG) has had its rescue package from US private equity firm Altamont approved by the Takeovers Panel, following an appeal by two spurned US hedge funds. The protest has however forced the parties to rewrite their deal, lowering their termination fee and striking out proposed interest charges on a loan extended to Billabong, which were deemed unacceptable. Shares in Billabong closed 0.88 per cent up at $0.57. 
 
The Reject Shop’s Limited (ASX:TRS) bold store rollout plan will not be abandoned despite weighing on the retailers full year net profit, which fell 11 per cent to $19.5 million. The Reject Shop plans to open one new shop a fortnight in the current financial year, part of its strategy to increase its presence across Australia. Shares in The Reject Shop closed 2.76 per cent stronger at $17.90. 
 
Engineering services company Clough’s Limited (ASX:CLO) full year earnings soared 111 per cent to $73.9 million, driven by its growing exposure to the booming oil and gas sector.
 
Online flight booking agent Webjet Limited (ASX:WEB) reported a plunge of over 50 per cent in its full year net profit of $6.48 million, weighed by growth costs and its expansion into Aisa and acquisitions. 
 
Investa Office Fund (ASX:IOF) says net profit jumped 56 per cent to $158.7 million in fiscal 2013, after it focused on debt management and de-risking over the year, with $400 million on debt re-financed. 
 
Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) recorded a jump in its full year net profit of $52.6 million however tipped flat operating earnings for the current financial year as it seeks Australian acquisitions.
 
Best and worst performers 

The best performing sector was Healthcare adding 94 points to close at 13,725.
The worst performing sector was Materials, losing 71 points to close at 9,620.
 
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was Medusa Mining Limited (ASX:MML), rising 17.24 per cent to close at $2.72. Shares in Discovery Metals Limited (ASX:DML) and Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Trade Me Group Limited (ASX:TME), dropping 6.94 per cent to close at $3.89. Shares in Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) and Super Retail Group Limited (ASX:SUL) also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is trading at $US1,368 an ounce. Light crude is $2.14 down at $US104.96 a barrel.

The Australian dollar 

The Australian dollar is buying $US0.9032.