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Market Update

Australian Awaits RBA Decision, Westpac Net Rises 10%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 8:39 AM ET May 05 2014

5:00 PM Sydney Australian stocks closed slightly higher in a quiet trading ahead of RBA meeting tomorrow. The central bank is expected keep record low interest rates as building approvals contracted 3.5% in March. Westpac Banking Corp reported quarterly net income increased 10%.

Stocks in Sydney opened higher and but failed to sustain the early gains and fell back to close up a 0.08%.

Investors were cautious ahead of RBA meeting tomorrow and building approvals for March contracted 3.5% from February but shot up 20% from a year ago month.

Australian dollar closed at 92.74 U.S. cents and stock market trading turnover dropped to 539 million shares worth $3.43 billion.

The ASX 200 index rose 4.10 to 5,462.20 and the broader All Ordinaries gained 4.60 to 5,443.40.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto jumped 67 cents to $61.65 after the miner filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court against Brazil-based miner Vale and BSG Resources Limited regarding mining concessions in Guinea.

BHP rose 22 cents to $37.49. Woodside Petroleum Limited gained 0.8% to $40.98.

Westpac Banking Corp slipped 42 cents to $34.45 after the bank reported net interest income in the first-half ending in March declined 5.9% to $15.86 billion from $16.86 billion a year ago.

Net profit in the period climbed 10% to $3.62 billion compared to $3.29 billion and diluted earnings per share increased to 114.5 cents from 104.2 cents a year earlier. The cash profit rose 8%.

The bank said impairment charges decreased $97 million or 22% compared to a year ago period.

The company declared quarterly dividend of 90 cents a share.

Ardent Leisure Group declined 3.8% to $2.54 after the leisure and entertainment provider reported group revenue in the third-quarter ending in March climbed 12.7% to $379.6 million.

Total revenues in Main Event Entertainment unit surged 23.6% to $65.63 million and EBITDA jumped 26.2% to $16.09 million.

The company added Good-life health clubs segment revenue climbed 20.1% to $121.54 million and the Bowling division revenue increased to $85.7 million, while revenue from its Theme Park division rose 2.1% to $81.50 million a year ago.

Aurizon Holdings Ltd plunged 4.8% to $4.92 after the company with China-based steelmaker Baosteel Group Corp are expected to make an offer for Australia-based Aquila Resources Ltd, an iron-ore and coal miner valued $1.14 billion.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited was halted at $11.39 and the financial service provider plans to buy business and assets of state-owned Rural Finance Corporation of Victoria for $1.78 billion.

Paringa Resources Ltd surged 17.5% to 37 cents after the gold-copper and graphite explorer received approval for its mining permit for its Buck Creek Thermal Coal project in the state of Kentucky in the U.S.

The stocks opened after a long trading halt since March.

Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc