Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 5/27/14

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By Juliette Saly, CommSec Market Analyst | May 27, 2014 1:17 PM EST

MID-SESSION REPORT
(12.40pm AEST)

The Australian share market is only slightly firmer at lunchtime in the East, after US and UK markets were closed overnight for public holidays.

Banking and mining players are mixed while a 0.6 per cent fall from Telstra (TLS) means the telco sector is the worst performing at lunchtime in the East.

In company news, insurer Suncorp Group (SUN) has flagged$500 million worth of write-downs in its life insurance business. CEO Patrick Snowball has claimed the impairments reflect challenges within the industry and deteriorating conditions. The write-down will affect SUN's full year financial result and has sent SUN's shares down 2.3 per cent to $13.385.

Foreign exchange service provider OzForex Group (OFX) shares have fallen sharply in early trade. The company posted a 6.8 per cent fall in full year net profit to $16 million. The result was impacted by costs associated with its recent listing on the market and an attempted takeover of UK based HiFx. OXF shareholders will receive a final dividend of 2.375 cents per share. OFX shares are down 13 per cent to $2.85.

Heading the other way is shares in analytical testing services group ALS (ALQ). Shareholders have shrugged off a drop in annual profit and dividend payouts, sending ALQ shares up 8.3 per cent to $7.92.

So far on the market, 792 million shares have changed hands, with an estimated value of $1.4 billion. 392 are up, 359 are down and 377 are unchanged.

Asian markets are mixed in the early sessions.

The Italian sharemarket outperformed other European bourses on Monday, gaining 3.6%, after a solid performance by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi´s centre-left Democratic Party in European elections.

The Australian dollar is a touch stronger at lunchtime in the East, worth US92.57c.

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