Table 'biztimes.ib_articles_6' doesn't existSELECT id,title,timestamp,keywords FROM ib_articles_6 WHERE id='630631' Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 12/17/13 - International Business Times

Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 12/17/13

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | December 17, 2013 12:25 PM EST

(12pm AEDT)

December hasn't been very kind for investors so far, however local stocks are moving higher at lunchtime in the East, following a positive offshore lead.

The All Ordinaries Index is up 0.7 per cent after falling around 3.5 per cent so far this month.

Around $6.5 billion worth of dividends are being paid to Westpac (WBC), National Australia Bank (NAB) and ANZ (ANZ) shareholders this week, many of which are expected to flood back into the market as investors reposition their assets. The financial sector is looking very solid in early trade.

Insurance Australia Group (IAG) has come back online, after completing its institutional share placement to fund its $1.85 billion acquisition for Wesfarmers (WES) insurance business. IAG shares have fallen 4.1 per cent in the early session to $5.465 while WES is up 1.5 per cent to $42.135.

There's been a shock resignation today from REA Group CEO Greg Ellis, who is leaving the company to take up a post overseas. REA shares have risen more than 100 per cent so far this calendar year but are among the worst performing on the ASX 200 today. REA shares down 7.5 per cent to $37.49.

In economic news today, car sales rose by 1.8 per cent in November while Australia's population grew by 1.8 per cent over the year to June.

Minutes from the Reserve Bank of Australia's last board meeting have been released, showing members maintain an easing bias towards the official cash rate. The minutes showed that the RBA would "not close off the possibility of reducing it (cash rate) further should that be appropriate."

So far on the market, 609 million shares have changed hands, worth $1.3 billion. 428 are up, 272 are down and 282 are unchanged.

The Australian dollar is slightly firmer at lunchtime in the East worth US89.51c.

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