The Australian sharemarket ended a little lower for the third
time this week with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) down 0.4 pct
or 16.6 pts to 4402.3. Our miners have struggled this week, with
BHP Billiton (
) down 0.86 pct or 30 cents to $34.44 while Rio Tinto (
) dropped 1.66 pct or $1.10 to $65.29 today.
Telstra (TLS) has been one of the best performers recently,
gained for part of the day and then lost ground in the second
half of the session. TLS eased 0.3 pct or 1 cent to $3.35.
Yesterday, David Jones (DJS) shares fell sharply after going
ex-dividend. Harvey Norman (HVN) went ex-dividend today and lost
4.8 pct on the market. HVN will be paying out a 5 cent a share
dividend to eligible shareholders on the 7th May. If you bought
HVN shares today onwards you would not be eligible to receive
The major banks were mixed today, with Westpac (
) down 0.3 pct and was the worst of the big four. Commonwealth
) rose 0.32 pct.
On the rural front overnight, the price of wheat fell 2.9 pct,
corn eased by 0.25 pct while soybeans became slightly more
expensive. The U.S is the largest exporter of soybeans, corn and
Most major markets will be closed tomorrow due to public
holidays. This includes markets in Australia, New Zealand, the
U.S and U.K, Hong Kong, Singapore, the Philippines, India and
Thailand. Australian shares will not trade on Monday either.
No major economic data was issued today in Australia however
the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) did release a report on
tourist arrivals and departures. Despite a stronger Australian
), more travellers are visiting Australia. There has been a 10
pct increase in short-term visitors from China over the past 12
months (a bigger increase than any other country).
However, there still are more people coming to visit Australia
from New Zealand than from another other nation. There are
currently more than 900,000 people employed either directly or
indirectly by the tourism industry.
Yesterday, Australia recorded its second consecutive trade
deficit in February, something which has not happened in around
two years. Exports fell by 2 pct and a $480 million deficit was
recorded. The report disappointed the market and pushed the
Australian dollar lower. The early timing of the Chinese New Year
continued to bear part of the blame.
Commsec Economist, Savanth Sebastian said that "There is no
need to hit the panic buttons just yet. It is important from the
outset to highlight that there is a high degree of volatility in
the data due to the unusual early timing of the Chinese New Year
and as such the January and February deficits may be reversed in
March. In addition Aussie mineral exporters have been affected by
rains and industrial action and that may have exacerbated the
weakness in the figures."
On Wednesday, a report was issued on home prices across the
country. Australia's property market is showing some signs of
stabilising, after home prices rose in March. Over the past 12
months however, home values have fallen in all capital cities.
Hobart and Brisbane have been the worst performing cities, with
prices falling by more than 6 pct in both regions.
Commsec Economist, Savanth Sebastian said that "There is good
news on home prices but more bad news for builders. In Sydney,
agents report solid demand for auctions over the weekend, while
nationally prices have lifted for the second straight month. But
for builders, approvals have slumped yet again. Simply, demand
exceeds supply in many regions, supported by improved
affordability and higher migration. While builders will continue
to compete hard for available work, home owners are likely to see
the value of their homes rise over the year. CommSec tips a
modest 3 per cent lift in prices over 2012."
On Tuesday, as expected the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA)
kept rates unchanged at 4.25 pct for the fourth consecutive
meeting. The good news for mortgage holders however is that the
market is factoring in an 83 pct chance that interest rates will
be cut at the RBA's next meeting in May. Rates are currently 0.5
pct lower now than at this time last year.
Next week, a number of reports will be issued. On Tuesday, the
latest business confidence numbers will be released along with
the ANZ job advertisement report. On Wednesday, we will find out
just how confidence Australian consumers are in addition to the
latest reading on home loans. The March jobs report will also be
issued with the unemployment rate expected to edge higher to 5.3
Volume of shares traded came in at 1.96 billion today, worth
$4.15 billion. 348 shares were up, 637 were weaker and 406 ended
At 4.30pm AEST on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the ASX24
futures contract is unchanged
Due to daylight savings, most major European markets are now
trading between 5pm (AEST) and 1.30am (AEST). Futures in Europe
are pointing to a slightly stronger start to trade tonight.
Dow Futures are currently a little higher; indicating that U.S
stocks could open in the black tonight. Due to daylight savings
taking place in the second week of March in North America and the
end of daylight savings in Australia, U.S markets will now be
trading between 11.30am (AEST) and 6am (AEST).
Turning to currencies, the Australian dollar (
) buys US102.9 cents. The AUD is currently trading at £64.8 pence
and €78.3 cents.
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