Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 5/14/14

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By Steven Daghlian, CommSec Market Analyst | May 14, 2014 1:26 PM EST

MID-SESSION REPORT
(12.30pm AEST)

The Australian sharemarket is down modestly after yesterday's impressive surge. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 0.3 per cent at lunch; however this has less to do with last night's Federal Budget and more to do with weakness from the banks. 

REUTERS
As perceived earlier by the country's central bank, Australia's economic pace has been slowing down, which was confirmed Wednesday by the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index.

National Australia Bank (NAB) and Westpac (WBC) are both down by more than 2.5 per cent, wiping out close to 20pts from the All Ordinaries Index in the process. Both banks are trading ex-dividend today, meaning that purchasing shares in either company today onwards will no longer make you eligible for the next dividend. Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is up 0.7 per cent following a $2.2 billion third quarter cash profit. CBA is also trading above $80 per share for the first time on record. 

Healthcare stocks are being hit following changes to the industry in last night's budget. Sonic Healthcare (SHL) is down 4.4 per cent while Primary Healthcare (PRY) is slumping by 5.6 per cent. The $7 per visit co-payment for doctor visits could have a short-term impact on some companies involved in the industry, with patients potentially delaying visits to the GP due to the added cost. This is likely be offset somewhat with just a $5 cut in the Medicare rebates doctors receive. 

Building products company CSR is down 5.7 per cent despite returning to profit. The bottom line was helped by a robust property market and a rise in construction. An $88.1 million annual profit was recorded over the 12 months to March, compared with a $150 million loss last year.

Commodity prices were mixed overnight, with iron ore flat, base metals lower and oil rising by 1 per cent following signs of lower crude oil inventories in the U.S. BHP Billiton (BHP) is up 0.5 per cent, gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) is up slightly while Rio Tinto (RIO) and Fortescue are both slumping. 

No major economic data is scheduled for release in Australia or the region today. 

The Australian dollar buys US93.8c; however is still around the same levels as last Friday. 

At lunch, 745.8 million shares have traded worth $2.16bn. 436 stocks are higher, 352 are lower and 281 are flat. 

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(Photo: REUTERS / )
As perceived earlier by the country's central bank, Australia's economic pace has been slowing down, which was confirmed Wednesday by the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index.
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