The Australian sharemarket is improving for the third straight session, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 0.8 per cent or 34.3 pts to 4540. All sectors are rising with the mining, healthcare and telecommunication industries the standouts. This is despite the closure of U.S markets last night for the second consecutive day due to bad weather. This was the first time in 124 years the American markets closed due to bad weather for two sessions in a row.
Men watch the stock board at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in central Sydney
Shares in Europe improved overnight, with France's CAC40 up 1.5 per cent, Germany's DAX gained 1.1 per cent and the U.K's FTSE rose by close to 1 per cent.
The local market received a boost due to some better than expected economic data released at 11.30am (AEDT). BHP Billiton (BHP) is 0.97 per cent or 32 cents higher to $34.29, Rio Tinto (RIO) is 0.42 per cent stronger to $57.10 and gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) is 1.64 per cent or 43 cents better to $26.58.
Three of the four major banks are on the rise with Westpac (WBC) the standout, up 0.59 per cent or 15 cents to $25.49. National Australia Bank (NAB) is the biggest drag on the sector after recording a 22 per cent slide in annual profit to $4.08 billion. This was a lower profit result than both ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) and Commonwealth Bank (CBA). So far this year, WBC shares are up 27 per cent, ANZ is 23 per cent higher, CBA is up 16.9 per cent while NAB is up 10.6 per cent.
A number of Annual General Meetings (AGMs) are taking place today including Country Road, JB Hi-Fi, Bega Cheese and Tabcorp. In Country Road's (CTY) Chairman address, the weakness of the retail environment was discussed. The company seems set to continue with its strategy to cut back on product discounting.
On the economic front, the number of building approvals granted to developers by councils in September has jumped by 7.8 per cent; significantly higher than market expectations. Approvals are up by around 12 per cent for the year. Keep in mind that these numbers can be extremely volatile from month to month and it is quite normal to see a sharp improvement followed by an even bigger pullback the very next month. The market is still expecting a 55 per cent chance of a rate cut next week by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA).
U.S futures are currently pointing to a slightly better start to trade tonight. The U.S market trades between 12.30pm (AEDT) and 7am (AEDT). This will be the first session of trade for the week in the U.S
So far in trade at lunch, 888 million shares have been traded worth $1.73 billion. 481 shares are up, 313 are lower and 288 are currently unchanged.
The Australian dollar (AUD) is weaker and buys US103.8 cents, €80.1 cents and £64.6 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
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