Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 2/26/14

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By Steven Daghlian, CommSec Market Analyst | February 26, 2014 1:24 PM EST

MID-SESSION REPORT
(12pm AEDT)

The Australian sharemarket has been shooting the lights out in recent weeks; with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) up 4.67 per cent since the start of February. This makes it the best month since July 2013. The XAO is largely flat at lunch.


Electronic information boards display market information at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. (Reuters)

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The miners have been the standouts since the start of February (up by close to 6 per cent); however have been losing ground this week. BHP Billiton (BHP) is down 1.1 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is 1.9 per cent lower and iron ore producer Fortescue Metals (FMG) is down by 3 per cent.

Westfield (WDC), Flight Centre (FLT), Lend Lease (LLC) and Sydney Airport (SYD) have all issued their profit results today.

Westfield, one of the world's largest shopping mall owners is down by more than 2 per cent after posting a 6.7 per cent slide in annual profit to $1.6 billion (12 months to December 2013). This was partly impacted by the sale of its less profitable assets. WDC operates 91 shopping centres.

Property group, Lend Lease (LLC) is down 3.9 per cent after recording a 16.4 per cent slide in net profit to $251.6 for 1H14. It has maintained a 22 cent per share half year dividend while revenue has slipped by 3.7 per cent.

Sydney Airport (SYD) is up 1.9 per cent despite recording a $26.9 million net loss over 2013. SYD said it's focusing on boosting traffic and passenger numbers.

Travel agent, Flight Centre (FLT) is down 1 per cent despite posting a more than 20 per cent rise in half year profit to $110.8m. FLT shares 76 per cent between January and December 2013.

Uranium miner, Paladin Energy (PLD) is up by 19 per cent and has responded to an ASX query on its recent price and volume moves. PDN said it isn't aware of the reasons behind its sharemarket moves. Uranium stocks have failed to recover following Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in 2011. PDN shares are down 89 per cent in just three years.

QBE Insurance (QBE) is up 2.85 per cent; taking its gains this week to 8 per cent. This is despite announcing a US$254m loss for the 12 months to December 2013 yesterday. QBE slumped by 26 per cent in December last year following its warning of a significant annual loss.

On the economic front, the amount of construction work completed between October - December 2013 has fallen by 1 per cent (market was anticipated a 0.4 per cent rise in the reading). This outcome plugs straight into the GDP (growth) reading.

At lunch, 912m shares changed hands, worth $1.98bn. 404 stocks are higher, 389 are in the red and 295 are unchanged.

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Electronic information boards display market information at the London Stock Exchange in the City of London. (Reuters)
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