The local share market is virtually unchanged at lunchtime in the East, after rising to highs not seen since September 2008 yesterday.
Overnight, the US Dow Jones Index once again hit a record high, as investors cheered strong data on private sector employment. European markets were impacted by falls in mining stocks, as base metals eased on the London Metals Exchange.
The Financial sector is coming off yesterday's highs. Westpac (WBC) and the Commonwealth Bank (CBA) both hit record highs yesterday, but today profit takers have moved in. WBC shares are down 1.3% to $31.25 while CBA is down 0.5% to $68.95.
Index leader BHP Billiton (BHP) shares have risen 0.6% to $36.02 despite weakness on the LME. BHP was the biggest drag on the share market on Monday, as it traded without rights to its dividend.
Defensive stocks are generally weaker. Telstra (TLS) is down 0.7% to $4.54 while in the healthcare sector, CSL Limited (CSL) has fallen 1.7% to $59.30.
Retail stocks are generally firmer. Outdoor wear retailer Kathmandu (KMD) shares are firmer by 4.3% to $2.08 while Harvey Norman (HVN) is firmer by 0.9% to $2.705.
Qantas (QAN) is outperforming the market, its shares one of the best performing on the ASX50, firmer by 1.2% to $1.63.
In economic data, Australia´s trade deficit widened to $1.057 billion in January, according to data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economists´ forecasts had centred on a deficit of $500 million.
During the month, exports fell 1%, while imports rose 1%.
The Australian dollar is worth US102.26c, £0.6824 and €78.78c.
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