The Australian sharemarket has kicked off hump day in subdued fashion, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) down by just 0.2 per cent or 9.2 pts to 5119.5.
Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, February 22, 2011.
A report issued at 10.30am (AEDT) showed that consumer confidence picked up by 2 per cent in March, adding to the 7.7 per cent rise in February. This did little to boost investor confidence however with shares extending their losses immediately following the report.
Australia's largest department store owner, Myer (MYR) is down by 1.9 per cent ahead of its profit results scheduled for release tomorrow. Discount retailer JB Hi-Fi (JBH) is 3.09 per cent lower while fellow department store chain, David Jones (DJS) is easing by 1.34 per cent or 4 cents to $2.95.
Global medical products company, Resmed Inc (RMD) has gone ex-dividend today for its modest 1.4c/share dividend. This is scheduled to be paid out to eligible shareholders on 19 March. This means that if you buy RMD shares today onwards, you will not receive its next distribution.
Housing finance continues to remain subdued, with a 1.5 per cent slump in lending in January. This monthly reading has fallen short of expectations since November last year.
Last night was uneventful for global markets, with shares in North America improving by just a few points. The DOW managed to rise for the eighth consecutive session however; its longest winning-streak since February 2011. Investors seemed hesitant, with the S&P500 Index coming very close to cracking through an all-time high.
Looking ahead to global market trade tonight, industrial production data, a 10-year bond auction in Italy and a 30-year bond auction in the U.K will be held. In the U.S. monthly retail spending numbers are due for release overnight. Economists are tipping a 0.3 per cent rise in spending over the month. The impact of January's 'fiscal cliff' measures will be closely watched.
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