Australian Stock Market Report - Midday 1/23/2012

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(12pm AEDT)

The Australian sharemarket is losing ground for only the second time in five sessions, with the All Ordinaries index (XAO) down by a modest 0.2 pct or 8.8 pts to 4294.2. The mining and financial sectors are lower which is dragging the rest of the market into the red. Both sectors combined make up more than 60 pct of the XAO.

It will be quiet in the region today with a number of major markets closed due to the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. Today is a public holiday in China, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Two of the world's largest miners, BHP Billiton ( BHP ) and RIO Tinto ( RIO ) are both a little lower at lunch. BHP is down 0.83 pct or 30 cents to $37.18 while RIO is easing by 0.06 pct or 5 cents to $67.48. Iron ore miner, Fortescue Metals (FMG) is down 2.89 pct or 15 cents to $5.04 however did rise by 9 pct last week following a solid production report.

The major banks have been trading mixed for much of the morning and are now mostly lower. Commonwealth Bank ( CBA ) is the exception as it gains by 0.2 pct or 10 cents to $49.93. Westpac ( WBC ) is down 0.73 pct or 15 cents to $20.53, ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) is down 0.24 pct or 4 cents to $20.85 and National Australia Bank (NAB) is easing by 0.13 pct or 3 cents to $23.85.

After a slow start to the session, some of the largest retailers are managing to improve slightly. Department store owner, David Jones (DJS) is up 1.68 pct or 4 cents to $2.42, JB Hi-Fi (JBH) is up 0.58 pct or 7 cents to $12.05 and troubled surfwear retailer Billabong ( BBG ) is up an impressive 5.63 pct or 10.5 cents to $1.97.

On the economic front, the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) rose by a less than expected 0.3 pct in the previous quarter. This measures the change in prices paid by producers of goods over a three month period.

Following the start of daylight savings at the start of October, major Asian markets will be trading between the hours mentioned below until April next year (note that over the next month, some of the times might be slightly off due to several countries in the region changing their clocks at differing periods).

The Hong Kong sharemarket trades in two sessions each day and will now open for trade between 1pm (AEDT) and 3.30pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 5.30pm (AEDT) and 7pm (AEDT).

Out of Japan, the first session will be between 11am (AEDT) and 1pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 2.30pm (AEDT) and 5pm (AEDT).

The Singapore exchange will be open for trade between 12pm (AEDT) and 3.30pm (AEDT) for the first session and then between 5pm (AEDT) and 8pm (AEDT) for the second.

Most markets in the region are not trading today, however Japan's Nikkei 225 index is down 0.25 pct or 21.82 pts to 8744.54 in early trade.

So far in trade at lunch, 599 million shares have been traded worth $1.12 billion. 394 shares are up, 350 are lower and 336 are currently unchanged.

The Australian dollar (AUD) is buying US104.6 cents, €81.1 cents and £67.3 pence.

The AUD is the world's fifth most traded currency behind the U.S dollar, the Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound. The AUD accounts for around 7 pct of all foreign exchange trades.

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 Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Commodities
Referenced Symbols: BBG , BHP , CBA , RIO , WBC

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