The Australian share market is slightly firmer at lunchtime in the East, despite falls on European and US markets overnight as investors booked profits in the absence of market moving economic, political or corporate news.
The main indicator of the Australian Securities Exchange (bottom R) is seen in red shortly after the local market opened in Central Sydney October 4, 2011. Australian stocks eased 0.6 percent on Tuesday, pressured by falls in global equities markets in a fresh flight from riskier assets, but losses were limited after steep declines on Monday. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz (AUSTRALIA - Tags: BUSINESS)
The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) briefly broke through 5000pt level early this morning for the first time since April 2011, hitting an intra-day high of 5002pts as investors focused on local corporate news instead of the offshore falls. The last time the XAO closed above 5000pts was April 11 2011.
At lunchtime in the East, the All Ords is up 7.9pts to 4988.2.
Financial stocks are flat after a positive start, while a mixed oil price has seen the energy sector fall by 0.1pct and mining stocks are generally weaker following falls in the base metals market overnight.
There's a focus on Whitehaven Coal (WHC) today. It has received conditional approval for its Maules Creek project wuth the Federal Government setting conditions for environmental protection. Environment Minister Tony Burke says he's satisfied the project can go ahead without unacceptable environmental impacts. At lunchtime in the East, WHC shares are firmer by 8.5pct to $3.21.
Meanwhile engineering company Bradken (BKN) has today delivered its 1H result, reporting an 8.5pct lift in first half profit spurred by increased demand for its products from the resources industry. Net profit for the six months to December 31 came in at $46.7 million, virtually in line with expectations. Bradken has also today reported an 18pct on year rise in revenue from its mining product unit, while there was a 21pct decline in its rail services division. Bradken has announced it's confident of conditions improving in the next six months. An interim dividend of 20 cents will be paid to shareholders, up from 19.5 cents declared in the same period last year. BKN shares are up 9pct at midday in the East to $6.65.
The NAB Business survey has shown an improvement in business conditions and confidence in January. Confidence rose from a reading of +2.4 to +2.9 while business conditions were up from minus 5.1 to minus 1.8.
The Australian dollar is buying US102.6c, £0.655 and €76.51c.
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