Australian Stock Market Report - Midday 2/3/2012


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(12pm AEDT

The Australian sharemarket is completely flat at lunch with the All Ordinaries index (XAO) sitting at 4333.2 pts. Most sectors are currently pulling back, however the mining sector (the market's second largest sector behind the financials) is a touch higher while the energy sector and industrials are also slightly higher.

We did not receive much in the way of a lead from Wall Street last night with the Dow Jones Industrials index (a measure of 30 of the largest American companies) falling 0.1 pct while the S&P500 index (a measure of the 500 largest U.S companies) rose by 0.1 pct.

Fairfax Media (FXJ) is down 1.59 pct or 1.25 cents to 77.25 cents which is adding to the 3.7 pct pullback recorded yesterday. Keep in mind that FXJ shares rose by more than 10 pct on Wednesday following the acquisition of a large stake in the media giant by mining billionaire, Gina Rinehart.

Australia's largest miner, BHP Billiton ( BHP ) is up 0.03 pct or 1 cent to $37.63 while the smaller RIO Tinto ( RIO ) is down 0.65 pct or 48 cents to $70.23.

The major banks were mostly stronger for much of the morning, however are now mostly weaker. Commonwealth Bank ( CBA ) is up 0.04 pct or 2 cents to $50.68 while the other three majors are all in the red. ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) is currently the worst performer, down 0.66 pct or 14 cents to $21.22, Westpac ( WBC ) is 0.24 pct or 5 cents lower to $20.87 and National Australia Bank (NAB) is easing by 0.13 pct or 3 cents to $23.86.

Construction company, Leighton Holdings ( LEI ) is up 1.19 pct or 28 cents to $23.82. LEI announced the appointment of Mr Dharma Chandran as its Chief Human Resource Office today. LEI's Chief Executive, Mr Hamish Tyrwhitt said that "Dharma is a very experienced and capable human resources executive and his performance over the last 3 months led me to make him an offer to join the Leighton Group on a permanent basis which he has accepted. Dharma has been acting in the temporary role of Executive General Manager, Human Resources since 17 October 2011 reporting to Craig van der Laan, our Chief Risk Officer and Group General Counsel."

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.

Markets in the region are mostly lower, with Japan's Nikkei 225 index down 0.23 pct or 20.39 pts to 8856.43 while South Korea's KOSPI index is down 0.43 pct or 8.46 pts to 1975.84.

So far in trade at lunch, 855 million shares have been traded worth $1.57 billion. 449 shares are up, 373 are lower and 336 are currently unchanged. Activity remains extremely light at lunch.

The Australian dollar (AUD) is buying US106.8 cents, €81.4 cents and £67.6 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 Stocks: BHP , CBA , LEI , RIO , WBC

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