Afternoon Market Report (17:30)
The Australian stock market traded through a narrow 15 point range on Thursday to end the session flat, although it remained within sight of 16 month highs.
The ASX200 fell by a point to end the day at 4582. The All Ordinaries Index rose by the same amount to end trade at 4592.
In economic news car sale figures for November were released. New car sales were unchanged in seasonally adjusted terms in November, after falling 2.5 per cent in October. Passenger car sales rose by 2.8 per cent, while vehicles such as trucks and utes rose by 0.5%, although sales of sports utility vehicles fell by 5.4 per cent. In rolling annual terms, a record 1,099,064 new vehicles were sold over the year to November. Sales of passenger cars have totalled 572,001, short of the high of 637,473 set in the year to February 2008. Sales of SUVs hit a record 302,644 in the year to November while sales of other vehicles hit 224,419 over the past year, short of the record high of 226,305 set in the year to July 2008
Resources stocks were the most preferred sector with money tending to move out of defensives in to cyclicals. BHP Billiton announced that along with joint venture partner Esso Australia, $495.5 mln will be invested in expanding the Longford gas project. BHP and Esso each own 50 per cent of the Gippsland Basin joint venture. BHP shares ended at $36.00 up 0.67%. Rio Tinto closed at $62.75 a gain of 0.88% .Mineral sands miner Iluka resources was one of the worst performers in the sector. The shares fell 5.6% to $8.16, after announcing that forecast for annual zircon and rutile volumes will be at the bottom end of earlier guidance.
Financials were generally weaker ANZ lost 0.08% to end at $24.68, CBA rose 0.13 % to $61.28, and the NAB closed lower by 0.24% at $24.60. Macquarie Group gave shed 0.51% back to $33.40 . Insurers saw some selling pressure in the main. In the last day Suncorp has spoken about the challenges ahead in 2013 defined by elusive investment returns and competitive pressures. Suncorp shares fell 0.2 per cent to $11.16 Insurance Australia Group fell 1.23 per cent to $4.81, & QBE gave up 1.03 per cent to $10.55.
A revised, $2.78 billion takeover bid from United States food processing giant Archer Daniels Midland for GrainCorp was dismissed by the grain handler and the stock fell 0.65 % to $12.30.
Shares in Southern Cross Media, owners of 2dayFM, fell 0.47% to $1.05. The Australian Communications and Media Authority announced that it will be commencing an investigation of radio station 2DayFM.
Ahead in the US and Europe it will be a quiet session for economic news. US retail sales should lift solidly in November after super storm Sandy closed shops in October. Although, the steep drop in consumer confidence in December suggests the gain in November retail sales may be short lived.
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