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Market Update

Australian Building Approvals Fall 5%; Goodman Fielder, Noni B Plunge

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 12:36 PM ET April 02 2014

5:00 PM Sydney Australian stocks closed higher in weak trading volume. Building approvals in February fell 5% on the month and surged 23% from a year ago. Goodman Fielder issued a profit warning. Noni B said comparable quarterly sales dropped 14% and said the retailer is working to lower costs.

Australian stocks opened higher on the back of better than expected manufacturing report in the U.S.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported building approvals in February declined 5% to 16,669. The approvals were weak in the month but rose 23% form a year ago month.

Australian dollar closed at 92.37 U.S. cents and stock market trading turnover slid to 719 million shares worth $3.64 billion.

The ASX 200 index rose 14.10 to 5,403.30 and the broader All Ordinaries gained 13.90 to 5,408.80.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto gained 25 cents to $64.10. BHP added 32 cents to $37.37. Woodside Petroleum Limited increased 11 cents to $38.71.

Westpac Banking Corp rose 3 cents to $34.62 and the bank launched educational scholarship program worth $100 million.

CSR Limited rose 0.3% to $3.58 after the building products maker agreed to acquire AFS Products Limited for $40 million with additional payments to be made over the next three years.

Goodman Fielder Ltd tumbled 22.1% to 47.5 cents after the baked products maker said trading conditions in Australia and New Zealand had worsened since February and added it will not meet its annual earnings outlook.

The breads and spreads manufacturer estimated annual earnings to fall between 10% and 15%.

Noni B Limited plunged 10.9% to 49 cents after the women's fashion retailer reported comparable sales in the third-quarter ending in March declined 14% from a year earlier.

The retailer said it has no bank borrowings and costs are under control and blamed the current weakness on the rising expectations of discounts from customers.

UGL Limited jumped 1.3% to $7.09 after the engineering company secured $136 million power systems project from Alinta Energy.

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