Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 2/6/14
By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | February 6, 2014 3:33 PM EST
The Australian share market is showing some signs of strength and a rebound after a tough week for investors. US markets were modestly lower overnight, while at lunchtime in the East the ASX is higher by 0.7 per cent.
The skilled vacancy measure has now been falling consistently since December 2009, a trend that plays into the outlook for lower Australian interest rates.
In company news, gaming company Tabcorp Holdings (TAH) has reported a slight increase in first half profit to $76.4 million, a rise of 2.3 per cent. Gains in the company's wagering, gaming and media divisions offset a decline in its Keno business. Shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 8 cents per share. TAH shares are steady at $3.38 at lunchtime in the East.
Virgin Australia (VAH) has confirmed what most in the market have been speculating - that it will record a first half loss - as it grapples with tepid demand, high fuel prices and a fierce price war with rival Qantas. VAH made the forecast in response to an ASX query following a sharp fall in its share price recently. VAH now expects a pre-tax loss for the six months through December to be materially in line with median broker forecasts of around $49M. After heavy falls recently, VAH is firmer by 5.6 per cent at lunchtime to 33.25c.
Shopping giant Woolworths (WOW) has lifted its first half sales by more than 6 per cent thanks to solid gains from its supermarkets division. New store openings, increased demand and a higher than average basket size of goods also helped the result. WOW shares are up 1.6 per cent at lunchtime.
Country Road (CTY), a stock which rarely trades, is ex-dividend today. Its share price has risen strongly on the back of its first half result earlier this week and is up 32 per cent at lunchtime to $9.90.
In economic news, retail trade has lifted by 0.5 per cent in December, in line with consensus.
The trade surplus expanded from $83 million to $468 million in December.
The Australian dollar is buying US89.74c at lunchtime in the East
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