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News: Market Wrap: Aus shares stage afternoon recovery

  1. The Australian share market has thrown off its morning worries to end 0.19 per cent higher at close. Early weakness in the banks soon turned positive with the materials sector also enjoying a lift as earning season continues to throw out a few small surprises. 
    The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 11 points up to finish at 5,889. 
    The value of trades was 4.14 billion on volume of 749 million shares at the close of trade. The top three stocks by value were Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA), BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) and Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
    On the futures market, the SPI is 11 points higher. 
    Company news
    G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM) has announced the acquisition of 12 new premium childcare and education centres. In keeping with its aggressive expansion strategy, the centre operator will pay $36 million from existing cash reserves with the new centres expected to add to earnings immediately upon to settlement. G8 Education also revealed first half profits were up by 70 per cent at $52.7 million but the figure was well below analyst expectations of $63.8 million. Shares in G8 closed 10.04 per cent down at $4.30. 
    ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has appointed Mark Whelan as CEO Australia to succeed Philip Chronican who is leaving to pursue a non-executive career.  Mr Whelan is currently managing director of global commercial banking and has been a member of ANZ’s management board since October last year. CEO of ANZ New Zealand, David Hisco, will assume Mr Chronican's responsibilities as global head of retail and the changes will take place from the beginning of April.  Shares in ANZ closed 0.36 per cent up at $35.87. 
    QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE) is selling its Australian agency businesses to Steadfast Group Limited (ASX:SDF) for $290 million.  
    Australia’s fifth largest bank Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited (ASX:BEN) despite boosting its first half net profit by 26 per cent to $227 million.
    1kg packs of Nanna’s Frozen Mixed Berries from Patties Foods Limited (ASX:PFL) have been hit with contamination fears over the weekend with the food manufacturer undertaking a full national consumer recall. 
    And Aurizon Holdings Limited (ASX:AZJ) has jumped interim profit a whopping 188 per cent and detailed plans to generate savings of $100 million next year and beyond. 
    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector was energy adding 0.9 per cent to close at 11,700. The worst performing sector was real estate investment trusts, losing 1.7 per cent to close at 1,314 points.
    The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 was Worley Parsons, rising 10.23 per cent to close at $11.53. Shares in Paladin Energy and UGL also closed higher.
    The worst performing stock was the aforementioned G8 Education. Shares in Bendigo and Adelaide Bank and Regis Resources also closed lower. 

    Gold is trading at $US1,233 an ounce. Light crude is $1.51 up at $US53.67 a barrel. The Australian dollar is buying 77.91 US cents. 

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