Australian shares are a touch higher, with some better than forecast economic news out this morning assisting. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up 0.4 per cent. The number of loan commitments by those buying, building or renovating properties jumped by a better than forecast 2.4 per cent in August. The number of job advertisements made by businesses in newspapers and online slid by 2 per cent, however Chinese inflation numbers were mostly as expected.
Since last Friday, the US non-farm payrolls were issued together with Chinese trade data and the completion of the Federal Election. 169,000 jobs were created in August (a touch short of expectations) while the unemployment rate improved modestly to 7.3 per cent (a 4.5 year low - lower participation rate the driver however). QE tapering is still expected by the market as early as the September 17-18 meeting of the FOMC. China recorded a better than expected US$28.6bn trade surplus in August. The Australian dollar cracked through US92c briefly earlier.
A decisive victory at the polls this weekend by the Coalition has removed a layer of political uncertainty from markets. Over the past five elections, equity markets have improved by 2.7 per cent in the three weeks after elections. The end of the mining and carbon tax are likely to be positives for equity markets. Qantas (QAN) is up 3 per cent while Virgin Australia (VAH) is 1.2 per cent higher. BHP Billiton (BHP) is 1.05 per cent stronger, while the smaller Rio Tinto (RIO) is 0.44 per cent better off. Gold and oil prices are higher partly due to instability and concerns surrounding Syria. Gold miner, Newcrest Mining (NCM) is up 2.62 per cent.
A number of large names have gone ex-dividend today, holding the market back a touch. Australia's 7th biggest listed company, Woolworths (WOW), CSL Limited (CSL) - the 10th biggest listed Australian business and Brambles (BXB) are wiping out 6pts from the ASX200 and are all trading ex-div today.
At lunch, 618 million shares have changed hands, worth $1.4 billion. 458 stocks are edging higher, 315 are losing ground and 302 are unchanged.
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