The Australian sharemarket ended in similar fashion to Monday
last week, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) easing by 0.3 pct
or 12.3 pts to 4288.2. All sectors lost ground, with the
exception of the consumer discretionary and I.T stocks.
Last Friday, Greece finally came to an agreement with private
lenders on a debt deal which helped global markets end a little
higher. However, China recorded its largest trade deficit in
around a decade in February which raised some concerns. It was
relatively quiet on the local market today, with public holidays
observed in the ACT, Victoria and Tasmania.
The S&P/ASX 200 Materials index ended 0.02 pct or 2.2 pts
lower to 11004.9, with the world's largest miner BHP Billiton (
) ending flat. Australia's second largest resource company, Rio
) fell 0.61 pct or 39 cents to $63.74. News that China's iron ore
imports rose 9.5 pct in February boosted our iron ore miners,
with Fortescue Metals (FMG) rising 3.9 pct or 22 cents to
Canadian based agri-business, Viterra (
) shot up 32.85 pct or $3.40 to $13.75 after acknowledging it has
received expressions of interest from third-parties. Grain
handler, GrainCorp (
) jumped 4.2 pct or 34 cents to $8.44.
Domino's Pizza (DMP) announced that around 1,000 new jobs will
be added across the country. Queensland will be adding around 350
jobs, 300 will be created in NSW, 150 in Victoria and 100 in
Western Australia. DMP shares ended 0.36 pct or 3 cents lower to
The four major banks make up around 25 pct of the Australian
sharemarket and all ended in the red by close. National Australia
Bank (NAB) fell 0.93 pct or 22 cents to $23.34, Westpac (
) and ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) fell by 0.87 pct while Commonwealth
Bank (CBA) eased 0.5 pct or 24 cents to $47.84.
On the economic front, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)
released its latest credit and debit card report today. The
average credit card limit grew by just 0.7 over the past 12
months, which is the slowest growth on record (17 years).
The Australian average credit card balance fell by $87.30 to
$3,262.50 in January. Commsec's Chief Economist, Craig James said
that "The average Aussie is still probably working on the
assumption that we are continuing to load up on debt, but nothing
could be further from the truth. The new age of Consumer
Conservatism shows no sign of ending with debt shunned and
purchases much more likely to be put on debit cards, not credit
cards or even cash. Certainly credit is available if consumers
want it. The average credit card limit is over $9,100 but the
average outstanding debt is just over $3,200."
A number of pieces of economic data will be released over the
week including a housing finance report tomorrow, a consumer
sentiment reading on Wednesday and lending finance numbers on
In the region this week, several reports will be posted in
Japan. On Wednesday, the Bank of Japan's monthly report will be
out, while the central bank will make a decision on interest
No major economic data is scheduled for released in Europe
tonight, however tomorrow the European Finance Ministers will be
meeting in Brussels. This includes all 27 European Union member
states. A number of reports including the change in employment in
Europe over the quarter and the U.K's latest jobless rate will be
out in the latter part of the week.
It will be quiet in the U.S tonight, however the American
Federal Budget Balance will be issued late in the session. This
is a breakdown of just how much the U.S government earned
(income) and spent (expenses) in February. For those interested,
the report will be available for download on the U.S Department
of the Treasury's website tomorrow.
Tomorrow's retail sales report for February will be one of the
more important reports out of the U.S this week and is expected
to rise strongly.
Volume of shares traded came in at 1.63 billion today, worth
$3.68 billion. 451 shares were up, 504 were weaker and 376 ended
At 4.30pm AEDT on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the ASX24
futures contract is flat.
Due to daylight savings, most major European markets are now
trading between 7pm (AEDT) and 3.30am (AEDT). Futures in Europe
are pointing to a weaker start to trade tonight.
Dow Futures are currently lower; indicating that U.S stocks
could open in the red tonight. Due to daylight savings taking
place in the second week of March in North America, U.S markets
will now be trading between 12.30am (AEDT) and 7am (AEDT).
Turning to currencies, the Australian dollar (AUD) buys
US105.3 cents, and is weaker than at this time on Friday. The AUD
is currently trading at £67.1 pence and €80.4 cents.
Steven Daghlian, CommSec Market Analyst
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