Market Wrap: ASX lifted by mining stocks

Market Reports

The Australian share market closed 0.91 per cent up as miners were buoyed by higher commodity prices . The Dow and S&P500 ended at record highs overnight providing a positive lead for the local bourse.  
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 50 points up to finish at 5,498
 
The value of trades was $5.22 billion on volume of 863 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were GPT Group (ASX:GPT), Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB)
 
On the futures market the SPI is 50 points up.
 
Economic news

ABS housing figures for March are showing a slow down in price growth for major cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. Housing loan approvals dropped a seasonally adjusted 1.1 per cent for March while the weighted average of property prices across capital cities rose 1.7 per cent for the quarter. That compares to a rise of 3.8 per cent in the December.
 
Company news
 
PanAust Limited (ASX:PNA) is the latest Australian company to catch the eye of Chinese investors. Today the miner confirmed it had received a non-binding, indicative and incomplete takeover bid from Chinese state-owned investment firm Guangdong Rising Asset Management. The company already holds 23 percent of PanAust stock but offered a cash price of $2.30 per share to lift its stake to over 50 per cent. The deal would be subject to Chinese and Australian regulatory approvals. PanAust has written to GD Rising advising the offer is too low to present to shareholders but has invited its suitor to access due diligence information to assist it in forming a higher offer. 
PanAust leapt 34.18 per cent to at $2.12 on the news.  
 
Northern Star Resources Limited (ASX:NST) is moving forward with its aggressive expansion plans. The company is set to become the second largest listed gold miner on the ASX after agreeing to pay Newmont Mining $82.5 million for its iconic Jundee Gold Mine in WA. The purchase will lift Northern Star’s expected production from 350,000ozpa to 550,000ozpa in 2015.Once the deal goes through Northern Star will own and operate five gold mines in Western Australia, four of which is has purchased this financial year. Shares in Northern Star gained 7.62 per cent to $1.20 
 
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) has warned industrial action by tug boat workers at Port Hedland in Western Australia could cost suppliers who ship out of Port Hedland hundreds of millions of dollars. 
 
Australia’s largest private hospital operator Ramsay Health Care Limited (ASX:RHC) is in exclusive talks to purchase a majority interest in France's biggest private hospital operator.
 
Explosives company Orica Limited (ASX:ORI) has reported a subdued half yearly result. Net profit after tax came in at $242 million compared with $263 million for the previous corresponding period.
 
And small cap engineering firm Korvest Limited (ASX:KOV) has offered investors a special dividend of $1 per share fully franked.
 
Best and worst performers

The best performing sector was materials  adding 190 points to close at 10,173.The worst performing sector was Real estate investment trusts, losing 5 points to close at 1,053 points.
 
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was PanAust, rising 34.18 per cent to close at $2.12. Shares in Oz Minerals and Northern Star Resources also closed higher.
 
The worst performing stock was Southern Cross Media, dropping 4.26 per cent to close at $1.13. Shares in Orica and Shopping Centers Austris also closed lower. 
 
Commodities

Gold is buying $US1,293 an ounce. Light crude is $0.60 up at $US100.59 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 93.41US cents.