The Australian market has shrugged off the weakness from global markets on Friday, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 0.7 per cent. Some better than expected signs for China's manufacturing sector on Sunday are helping lift equities at lunch. The XAO remains well above 5100.0pts.
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)
With the profit reporting season out of the way, investor attention has shifted to uncertainty in Syria, the closure of US markets tonight (labor day holiday) and Chinese data out over the past few days. The federal election this Saturday will be the highlight event.
The big banks are the biggest contributors to the improvements, with the four majors accounting for 13pts of the 35pt improvement so far today. Westpac (WBC) is up 1.3 per cent.
The mining stocks are mixed, with Rio Tinto (RIO) an outperformer. RIO has loaded its first ship from its 290Mt/a expansion program in Western Australian. RIO's chief executive, Andrew Harding said that "The 290 project is the largest integrated mining project in Australia".
Around 30 companies have gone ex-dividend today - meaning that purchasing shares in any of these companies today onwards will not make you eligible to receive their next dividend payments. BHP Billiton (BHP), Fortescue Metals (FMG), AMP Limited (AMP), ASX and Amcor (AMC) are included.
Struggling surfwear retailer, Billabong (BBG) is up 18.8 per cent today after releasing a company update to the market. A hedge fund with around a $10m stake in BBG has called for the removal of some directors. Last week, BBG shares slumped by 27 per cent following an $860m annual loss.
On the economic front today, the volatile building approvals reading showed a bigger than forecast 10.8 per cent rise in approvals for developments from councils (apartment construction leading gains). HSBC's Final Manufacturing PMI issued this morning didn't surprise with a reading of 50.1, showing that China's manufacturing industry is simply treading water (above 50.0 indicates improving conditions).
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