Australian Stock Market Report - Midday 2/28/2012

By Vittorio Hernandez,

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(12pm AEDT)

After a positive start, the local share market is trading flat at lunchtime in the East, weighed down by losses in the financial and energy sectors, and some disappointing earnings results. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is weaker by 3pts or 0.1pct to 4351.5.

The financial sector has eased by 0.2pct with shares in the Commonwealth Bank ( CBA ), the weakest out of the big four, down 0.8pct to $49.07. Ratings agency Standard and Poor's yesterday warned that Australian bank ratings are at risk from any downturn in the nation's economy triggered by a downturn in China.

QBE Insurance Group (QBE) shares have been placed in a trading halt as the company seeks to raise $465 million capital through both institutional and retail investors. The insurer today reported a 45pct drop in FY profit to $655 million, citing one of the worst years for catastrophic events. QBE shares last traded at $11.50. Shareholders will receive a final dividend of 25c per share, as previously flagged.

Building and construction materials maker Boral ( BLD ) saw its first half profit rise 65pct to $153 million due to gains from acquisitions, but has warned weak housing markets continue to affect its underlying performance. BLD shares are down 5.2pct in early trade at $4.17. Shareholders will receive a 7.5c interim dividend.

Meanwhile building materials company James Hardie ( JHX ) has increased its underlying profit and maintained its full year guidance, however its 3Q result was weaker than expected. JHX shares are down 3.2pct in early trade to $7.30.

The Australian dollar is buying US107.54c at lunchtime in the East, £0.6796 and €80.26c.

Juliette Saly, 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 Stocks: BLD , CBA , JHX

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