Australian Stock Market Report - Afternoon 3/9/2012


(4.30pm AEDT)

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 ( BHP ) ending flat. Australia's second largest resource company, Rio Tinto ( 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 $5.86.

Canadian based agri-business, Viterra ( VTA ) 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 ( GNC ) 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 $8.37.

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 ( WBC ) 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 Thursday.

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 rates tomorrow.

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 unchanged.

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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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities

Referenced Stocks: BHP , GNC , RIO , VTA , WBC

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