The Australian share market is slightly firmer at lunchtime following solid gains on European markets on the back of positive manufacturing data there. Wall Street was closed for Labor Day.
In early trade, the ASX 200 rose above 5200 points for the first time since May but has eased slightly by lunchtime in the East following disappointing retail sales figures for July.
Market consensus was for retail trade to rise 0.4 per cent in July, however it gained just 0.1 per cent. CommSec had tipped a flat result, similar to the result we saw in June. We are seeing Australians show caution in regards to spending and expect that theme to continue until after the Federal election is out of the way this weekend.
Mining stocks are the best performers on the overall market following strength on the metals exchange in London overnight. BHP Billiton (BHP) is firmer by one per cent while iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has gained 4.7 per cent in early trade to $4.535.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has today granted conditional approval for the Virgin Australia (VAH) and Air New Zealand (AIZ) alliance to continue until 31st October 2018. In a statement issued to the ASX the ACCC said ´´The alliance will allow the two airlines to offer enhanced products and services, such as new frequencies and increased access to loyalty program benefits and lounges.´´ VAH shares rose 1.2 per cent in early trade to 41c while Air New Zealand (AIZ) firmed by 1.6 per cent to $1.25.
The Australian dollar dipped below US90c following the retail sales figures and at lunchtime is buying US89.98c.
So far on the market, 771 million shares have changed hands, worth $1.6 billion. 426 shares are up, 358 are down and 291 are unchanged.
There are no holidays in the Asian region today. Japan's NIKKEI is firmer by 2.4 per cent in early trade while the Shanghai Composite is firmer by 0.2 per cent,
The Dow Futures is pointing to a 0.7 per cent gain at open.
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