Market Wrap:Aus shares close 0.63% higher

Market Reports

Following steady leads, the Australian share market opened higher and after a plateau through the afternoon a last minute rally helped the market to close 0.63 per cent up.
 
The Australian Government today appointed Deutsche Bank AG, Goldman Sachs Australia Pty Ltd and Macquarie Capital Limited as the joint lead managers for the sale of Medibank Private. The Government says they are committed to progress the initial public offering in the 2014-15 financial year. 

Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 34 points up to finish at 5,454.  Over the week the index gained 26 points. 
 
The value of trades was $3.78 billion on volume of 671 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were WBC, BHP and WOW.
 
On the futures market the SPI is 39 points up.

Wall St
 
US stocks have gained over the three trading days this week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 255 points. The S&P 500 Index added 29 points. The NASDAQ added 32 points. The 100 Index added 45 points. 
 
Economic news

Imports have slipped; the ABS today released international merchandise figures for March that show a 2 per cent drop in total international imports.  
 
Company news 
 
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API) will write down $131 million worth of assets. API owns Priceline, Soul Pattinson and Pharmacist Advice brands and says the one-off impairment is mainly attributable to the debts of their pharmacy customers as well as a write down in the value of their retail operations due to lower growth rates. The company said its underlying performance was strong, with a net profit after tax of $16.2 million for the six months to the end of February this year. Shares in API finished flat to close at $0.57.
 
Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) will buy Coomera City Centre in Queensland for $59.2 million. The real estate investment trust says the shopping centre, 20km’s north of the gold Coast, will offer a yield of 7.4 per cent. Shares in Charter Hall rose 1.09 per cent to close at $3.71.
 
McAleese Limited (ASX:MCS) has revised down its revenue by $9 million and its earnings before interest, tax depreciation and amortisation by $7 million.
 
Santos Limited (ASX:STO) has affirmed its annual output guidance after reporting a 1 per cent increase in production on the same period last year.

Best and Worst Performers
 
All majors finished in the green today: The best performing sector was consumer staples adding 121 points to close at 10,026. The sector with the smallest gains was health care, gaining 18 points to close at 14,151 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Challenger Limited (ASX:CGF), rising 4.19 per cent to close at $6.72. Shares in Southern Cross Media Group Limited (ASX:SXL) and Pacific Brands Limited (ASX:PBG) also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Skilled Group Limited (ASX:SKE), dropping 2.14 per cent to close at $2.75. Shares in Super Retail Group Limited (ASX:SUL) and Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX:TEN) also closed lower. 
 
IPOs

Japara Healthcare Limited (ASX:JHC) started trading today. The residential aged care provider listed with an issue price of $2.00, opened at $2.41 and a closed at $2.70.
 
Genesis Limited (ASX:GNE) started trading today. The gas and electricity provider listed with an issue price of $1.43, opened at $1.66 and a closed at $1.68.
 
Commodities

The price of gold is buying $US1,301.90 an ounce, and is down $18.67 over the week. Light crude is $0.01 higher at $US103.76 a barrel.

The Australian Dollar

The Australian dollar is buying $0.9365 and has been flat over the week.