EVENING REPORT (5pm AEDT)
The Australian share market closed in the red today, but managed to rally off earlier lows as mining stocks lifted into positive territory and as several companies lifted their earnings guidance.
After trading as low as 5325 points, the All Ords (XAO) closed down just 11.1 points or 0.2 per cent to 5351.
In company news, clothing group Premier Investments (PMV) lifted its first half profit by 12 per cent to $52.1 million, thanks to solid sales growth in its retail business. PMV, which owns brands such as Portmans, Jacqui E and Just Jeans, reported a 4.4 per cent increase in like for like sales in the period. The company will pay a fully franked interim dividend of 20 cents per share, up from 19 cents in this period last year. PMV shares added 11.2 per cent today to $8.95.
David Jones (DJS) announced to the market that it has appointed Macquarie Capital investment bankers to assess the merger proposal from fellow retailer Myer Limited (MYR). Last week DJS said it was re-considering the value of the merger, which is based on a share-swap premise. DJS shares added 2.6 per cent today to $3.17. MYR, which was trading without rights to its 9c per share dividend, fell 5.4 per cent or 13c to $2.29.
Internet provider TPG Telecom (TPM) lifted its 1H profit by 15 per cent to $90.1 million, thanks to solid growth in broadband subscribers. TPM also upgraded its earnings guidance by $25-45 million and now expects full year earnings between $325-330 million. Shareholders will receive a fully franked interim dividend of 4.5 cents per share.
Property developer Australand (ALZ) also upgraded its earnings forecast as strong demand lifts prices for new homes. ALZ shares added 0.2 per cent to $4.18.
In economic news, CommSec research has found the Aussie dollar is 9th strongest against the greenback so far in 2014 of 116 currencies monitored. The Australian share market is in 38th spot of the 72 bourses with the All Ordinaries index largely unchanged so far in 2014 (data up to March 24).
On the market overall, a total of 1.7 billion shares changed hands, worth $4.8 billion. 356 were up, 589 were down and 318 were unchanged.
At 4.45pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5338, down 10 points.
Ahead tonight, consumer confidence and home price data is released in the US.
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