Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 5/3/2012


(IBTimes) - Lunchtime REPORT
(1pm AEST)

The Australian share market rose for the third consecutive day yesterday, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) edging higher by 7 points to 4,504 points. Overnight the markets were held back by the news that 11 European countries had now fallen back into recession, and the Eurozone unemployment rate had hit a record high of 10.9 pct.

At the open of trade the Aussie market fell slightly lower and as the day traded on the markets traded sideways. By lunchtime the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) was still down 7 points to 4,497 points. The early losses were mainly found in the energy and material sectors.

In the finance sector, the focus once again was on mortgage rates and company results. After market close yesterday the National Australia Bank Limited (NAB)
Announced it would cut 32 basis points from its borrowing rates, on its mortgage and business loans, effective from the 4th of May. NAB share price climbed 0.28 pct. to $25.16. This morning the Commonwealth Bank of Australia ( CBA ) will lower its standard variable interest rate by 40 basis points. Standard variable rate will drop to 7.01 pct. effective from the 11th of May.

Westpac Banking Corporation ( WBC ) today reported its first year results. The bank reported a cash profit of $3.195 million, up 1pct from last year in line with market expectations. Also WBC's Net Profit after Tax (NPAT) fell 25 pct. to $2.967 million from a year earlier, as expected. Westpac's Chief Executive Officer ( CEO ) Gail Kelly said the bank would reveal its decision on interest rates tomorrow. WBC share price rose 1.34 pct. to$ 22.99. ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) share price fell 0.59 pct. to $ 23.66, one day after reporting a 10 pct. rise in first half NPAT to $2.92 billion. QBE Insurance Group Limited (QBE) stronger up 1.08 pct. to $ 14.05.

Shares in ASX Limited ( ASX ), the company that runs the Australian stock and futures Exchange, released its quarterly results today. The company profit was hit by higher cost and lower trading volumes. Shares in the ASX were down 1.8 pct. to $31.65 after saying its NPAT fell 2.9 pct. in the nine months to the end of March 2012. Listing revenue continued to slide over the period off 13.5 pct.

Retailer, Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (HVN) reported its unaudited third quarter sales result today. Harvey Norman's pre-tax profit for the first nine months till the end of March 2012 fell 25 pct. as sales continued to slide with more weakness in sales in the last quarter. CEO Gerry Harvey said "aggressive competitor activity in the audio/video and information technology sector" hurt sales. HVN share prices fell nearly 5 pct. before recovering and at lunch it was down 3.6 pct. to $ 1.99.5.
Discount retailer, JB Hi-Fi (JBH) fell by 0.94 pct. to $9.54.

The S&P/ASX 200 Energy index was off 0.75 pct. The US oil price came off yesterday's highs to US$105.12 a barrel. Australia's second largest oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum's (WPL) share price lost 1 pct. to $36.29.
Other energy stocks also lower; Santos Limited ( STO ) fell 0.3 pct. and Origin Energy Limited (ORG) down 0.58 pct. to $13.66.

The mining sector traded mostly lower, with BHP Billiton Limited (BHP) down 0.3 pct. to $36.14. Rio Tinto Limited (RIO) slightly higher down 0.9 pct. to $ 65.80 and our largest listed gold miner Newcrest Mining limited (NCM) giving back yesterday's gains 0.26 pct. to $ 26.53.

Elsewhere Qantas (QAN) share price was unchanged at $1.63.5 and Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (VAH) shares higher. Yesterday Virgin released its passenger numbers for March. The airline carried more passengers over the month but they had put on more planes and more seats to sell so the airlines overall capacity level fell. VAH shares up 3.9 pct. to $0.40. Sydney Airport (SYD) share price was also higher up 1.59 pct. to $2.87.

In the Telecommunication Services sector, Telstra Corporation Limited (TLS) turned higher, up 0.14 pct. to $3.58. Singapore Telecommunications Limited's (SGT) share price unchanged after telling the market it will restructure its Australian based Optus business and job cuts yesterday. Today, Hutchison Telecommunications Australia Limited (HTA) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) the company said its new rebuild plans are on track and shares rallied 7.14 pct.

The Australian dollar (AUD) is buying US102.97 cents and €78.33 cents.

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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: ASX , CBA , CEO , STO , WBC

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