EVENING REPORT (5pm AEST)
The Australian share market closed only slightly firmer by the close of trade on Friday, but closed the week down 1.4 per cent, erasing all of last week's 1.3 per cent gain.
In the US overnight, markets were mixed as investors awaited the monthly jobs report due tonight.
Macquarie Group (MQG) was a standout today, rising 0.9 per cent after the investment firm generated its highest profit for six years. MQG made a net profit of $1.265 billion for the 12 months to March 3, up 49 per cent from $851 million a year ago. MQG flagged in March it was expecting its profit to rise by 40-45 per cent. A second dividend of $1.60 per share will be paid, with a special dividend of $1.16. The financial sector rose 0.3 per cent.
The founder and Chair of Ramsay Health Care (RHC), Paul Ramsay, died overnight in his hometown of Bowral, NSW after suffering a heart-attack while in Europe on holiday. The 78 year old who was single and had no children has left $3 billion to the Paul Ramsay Foundation, which supports charities and medical research groups. RHC shares rose 1.3 per cent to $44.71 on Friday.
Retailer Myer (MYR) shares fell 2.3 per cent to $2.12. The retailer said it is looking forward to a better 2015 after 3Q 2014 sales fell by 0.9 per cent to $646.5 million.
Shares in Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) rose 6.5 per cent to $4.09 on takeover speculation. However the company behind wine labels such as Penfolds and Lindemans denied it had been approached by liquor giant Pernod Ricard.
For more company news, please read the Mid-Session report.
In economic news today, new home sales rose by 0.2 per cent in March after rising by 4.6 per cent in February. New home sales are up 24.2 per cent on a year ago and holding at the highest levels in three-years.
On the market overall, a total of 2 billion shares changed hands, worth $3.9 billion. 427 were up, 495 were down and 387 were unchanged.
The Australian dollar ended the day's session at US92.71c and the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5447, up 13 points at 4.30pm AEST.
In the US tonight, non-farm payrolls and factory orders are released.
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