MID-SESSION REPORT (12.15pm AEDT)
Local investors are hedging their bets today, ahead of arguably one of the busiest days of the year. At 3.15pm AEDT the "race that stops the nation" will see millions of Australians leave their desks to watch the Melbourne Cup, while tonight in the US, the hotly contested 2012 Presidential Election gets underway. Also of significance to market watchers, is this afternoon's interest rate decision at 2.30pm AEDT. Money markets are now factoring in just a 47pct chance that rates will be cut by 0.25 basis points to 3pct.
At lunchtime in the East, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up 11.2pts or 0.2pct to 4504.8.
Australia's corporate bond market appears to be coming to life. Just a day after speculation Telstra (TLS) is looking to raise $500 million by tapping the local bond market, there's talk Coca-Cola Amatil (CCL) is planning a similar issue. The fizzy drinks maker reportedly wants to raise at least $100 million through an offer of new seven year notes. CCL shares are up 1.7pct mid-session to $13.29 while TLS is firmer at $4.10.
Financial stocks are once again well supported. Westpac (WBC) is adding to yesterday's gains, up a further 1.2pct to $25.65. WBC yesterday announced a $6.6 billion cash profit, above expectations. The bank's share price has risen more than 25pct year to date.
Retail stocks continue to be sold down. David Jones (DJS), which plunged more than 4pct during yesterday's trade, is down another 0.8pct to $2.47 while shares in discount retailer JB Hi-FI (JBH) are lower by 1.3pct to $9.93.
The Australian dollar is fairly steady against the greenback ahead of this afternoon's rate decision. At 12.15pm AEDT the Aussie is worth US103.69c, €81.1c and £0.6492.
So far at lunch, 582 million shares have changed hands, worth $1.2 billion. 337 are up, 348 are down and 325 are unchanged.
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