Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 4/3/2012

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MIDDAY REPORT
(12.30pm AEST)

The Australian sharemarket is slightly higher at lunch, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 0.3 pct or 13 pts to 4429.4. Most sectors are improving; however the industrials, healthcare stocks and the utilities are losing a bit of ground.

Australia's second largest carrier, Virgin Australia (VAH) said that passenger numbers on its flights jumped by 7.2 pct in February, less than Qantas' (QAN) result last week. VAH is down 3.33 pct or 1.5 cents to 43.5 cents. QAN is slightly higher.

Our two largest miners, Rio Tinto ( RIO ) and BHP Billiton ( BHP ) are both higher. RIO is the better performer of the big two and is up 1.07 pct or 71 cents to $66.90.

The four major banks are all improving by as much as 0.6 pct, however the retailers continue to struggle with both Kathmandu (KMD) and David Jones (DJS) down by more than 1 pct. Surfwear retailer, Billabong ( BBG ) is up 0.7 pct.

Australians are remaining a little cautious to spend, with retail spending only edging higher by a very modest 0.2 pct in February.

Later on this afternoon, the Reserve Bank of Australia ( RBA ) will make its monthly decision on interest rates. It is widely expected that rates will remain unchanged at 4.25 pct for the fourth straight meeting. This time last year, rates were at 0.5 pct while the Australian dollar ( AUD ) was trading at US103.6 cents against the greenback. 24 of 24 economists surveyed at the end of last week by Blooomberg are expecting rates to remain on hold.

China's sharemarket is closed today due to a public holiday and will also be closed tomorrow.

Following the end of daylight savings, major Asian markets will be trading between the hours mentioned below until October this year.

The Hong Kong sharemarket trades in two sessions each day and will now open for trade between 11.30am (AEST) and 2pm (AEST) while the second session is between 3.30pm (AEST) and 6pm (AEST).

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

The Singapore exchange will be open for trade between 11am and 2.30pm (AEST) for the first session and then between 4pm and 7pm (AEST) for the second.

So far in trade at lunch, 1.06 million shares have been traded worth $1.79 billion. 465 shares are up, 364 are lower and 393 are currently unchanged.

The Australian dollar ( AUD ) is buying US104.4 cents, €78.2 cents and £65.09 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.

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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: AUD , BBG , BHP , RBA , RIO

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