The Australian sharemarket is improving for the fourth time in six sessions, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 0.4 per cent or 17.6 pts to 4573.5. The defensive healthcare sector is the lone loser at lunch, with all other regions of the market edging higher. Better than expected job numbers in the U.S on Friday and strong economic news out of China yesterday is helping keep our market positive. There were around 50,000 more jobs created in November than expected in North America, while retail spending, production and inflation all exceeded expectations in China.
It isn't all good news however, with the Ten Network (TEN) down 6.29 per cent to 25.25 cents after resuming trade. It was in a trading halt for three days but has now completed the first part of its $230 million capital raising. Its shares have fallen by 60 per cent this calendar year, adding to two straight years of significant losses.
Southern Cross Media (SXL), the owner of 2dayfm is having one of its worst days of the year and continues to come under fire over the Royal prank call. Both Coles and Telstra have put advertising on hold for the time being. SXL shares are down 4.52 per cent or 5 cents to $1.05.
The miners are leading the charge higher for the market so far, with Rio Tinto (RIO) up 2.14 per cent or $1.28 to $61.45 while BHP Billiton (BHP) is 0.63 per cent or 22 cents higher to $34.96. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals (FMG) is having its best day since mid-October, with its shares up 5.28 per cent or 20 cents to $3.99.
The major banks are continuing to improve, with the four big players all around 0.5 per cent higher. Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is edging closer to the $100 billion market capitalisation (number of shares on issue multiplied by share price) mark. CBA shares are up 0.44 per cent or 26 cents to $61.14, while ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) is lagging behind but is still up 0.1 per cent or 2.5 cents to $24.91.
On the economic front, Australians are continuing to shy away from taking on additional debt to buy homes. A monthly report has shown that the number of new home loans issued in October rose by just 0.1 per cent, whereas the market was hoping for a reading around 3.8 per cent. The latest Chinese trade balance is also expected out today at some point.
Following the start 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.
U.S futures are currently pointing to a slightly stronger start to trade tonight. The U.S market trades between 1.30am (AEDT) and 8am (AEDT).
So far in trade at lunch, 650 million shares have been traded worth $1.3 billion. 418 shares are up, 368 are lower and 323 are currently unchanged.
The Australian dollar (AUD) is stronger and buys US104.8 cents, €81.1 cents and £65.4 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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