Local stocks are underperforming Wall Street in the early session, with investor apathy appearing to be at play. Despite predictions our market would rise by around 0.7pct today, at lunchtime in the East the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is firmer by just 6.3pts or 0.1pct to 4437.8.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange December 3, 2010.
Mining stocks are well supported, thanks to gains in commodity prices on Friday. The spot iron ore price rose 0.2pct to US$118.90 a barrel, with Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) the best performer on the ASX 50 in the early session, firmer by 2.6pct to $2.77. BHP Billiton (BHP) has gained 0.5pct to $33.93 while Rio Tinto (RIO) is up 0.4pct to $57.43.
Healthcare stocks are under pressure, a victim of the high Australian dollar. Shares in CSL Limited (CSL) have fallen 1.1pct to $46.86 while hearing implant maker Cochlear (COH) is weaker by 0.5pct to $74.33.
Rural lender Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) has entered an agreement to buy regional financial company Southern Finance Group for $290 million. Southern Finance offers services in western Victoria and South Australia. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of the year. BEN shares are firmer by 0.5pct to $7.86.
Embattled TV station Network Ten (TEN) is reportedly lowering its advertising costs. Shares in the network are down 3,3pct to $0.295.
The Australian dollar is well supported, worth US104.58c, £0.6523 and €80.67c.
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