The Australian sharemarket started session largely flat for much of the morning following mixed economic news over the past three days. The All Ords is a touch higher though, adding to last week's 0.75 per cent improvement. On Friday, a report showed that there were around 70,000 more jobs created in North America over February than expected, while the jobless rate improved to 7.7 per cent. This was the first time since March 2012 that more than 200,000 jobs were added in one month.
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 mining sector is the biggest drag today, with falls in excess of 1 per cent for many of the major players. BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) combined account for around 8 per cent of the local market.
The major banks were mixed in early trade, however have now squeezed into positive territory with the exception of Westpac (WBC). National Bank (NAB) is the standout at lunch, taking the gains for 2013 to 25.6 per cent. It is important to note that NAB underperformed the broader market in 2012 after only improving by 7.02 per cent.
Many investors seem to be staying away from the market today due to public holidays across Australia including in Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT.
Looking ahead, the highlight this week will be the monthly jobs report. The market is expecting the creation of around 8,000 jobs and for the jobless rate to rise slightly from 5.4 to 5.5 per cent.
Globally, the U.S markets will now be trading an hour earlier due to daylight savings. Major American equities open at 12.30am (AEDT) and shut their doors at 7am (AEDT). Economic news will be light over the next few days in the U.S however will pick up mid-week. The latest retail spending report is expected to be a highlight, with spending forecast to rise by a healthy 0.3 per cent in February.
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