Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 5/22/14

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By Steven Daghlian, CommSec Market Analyst | May 22, 2014 12:50 PM EST

MID-SESSION REPORT
(12.10pm AEST)

Better than forecast signs for China's manufacturing industry are helping lift the miners, dollar and most of the broader market. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up 0.9 per cent to 5454pts, with the resource industry a standout. Strength from global markets last night thanks to comments from the U.S. central bank hinting rates are likely to remain at rock bottom levels for longer is also helping. 

Tim Wimborne / Reuters
People look at market display indicators through the window of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney

The price of iron ore rose by 1 per cent to US$98.5 overnight; however is still 5 per cent lower than a week ago and is hovering around a 20-month low. Ratings agency Moody's has forecast a substantial slowing in China's home sales growth over 2014. The miners are improving today though, with BHP Billiton (BHP) up 1.3 per cent while Rio Tinto (RIO) is 2.6 per cent higher and Fortescue (FMG) is 3.6 per cent higher today.

Australia's second largest oil and gas producer, Woodside Petroleum (WPL) is 1.7 per cent firmer as it meets with shareholders today. Yesterday, WPL walked away from the US$2.5 billion Leviathan natural gas deal off the coast of Israel as negotiations fell through. 

Building products company James Hardie (JHX) is up 3.5 per cent thanks to a healthy full year profit result. Sales and profit both improved over the year with net profit after tax rising $56 million to $197 million. A US32c per shares dividend and US20cps special dividend were announced. No guidance was provided; however its outlook for the future seems quite positive. JHX shares are up 11 per cent since 1 January 2014, adding to 2013's 45 per cent rise. 

The HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI reading at 11.45am (AEST) recorded a better than forecast rise from 48.1 to 49.7. The market was expecting only a slight rise to 48.4. This is a forward looking indicator and gives the market a sense of activity levels in China's manufacturing industry in May. A reading below 50.0 still indicates market contraction. The mining complex is 1.6 per cent higher, while the Australian dollar has also improved to US92.6c.

The major banks are all higher and combined are adding 11pts to the All Ordinaries Index. 

No major economic data is scheduled for release in Australia today. In Europe, manufacturing numbers will be issued together with the start of the European Parliamentary elections this evening. In the U.S, homes sales and jobless claims will be issued (highlighting the number of Americans filing to receive unemployment benefits for the first time in the previous week).

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(Photo: Tim Wimborne / Reuters / )
People look at market display indicators through the window of the Australian Stock Exchange in Sydney
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