MID-SESSION REPORT (12pm AEDT)
After the recent rally which has seen the ASX 200 hit 17 month highs and the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) reach fresh 2012 highs, local stocks are trading flat today.
A new stimulus plan from the US Federal Reserve announced overnight briefly lifted the broader S&P 500 to a seven week high however Wall Street ended up closing flat as profit takers moved in and after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said he hoped markets wouldn't have to tank to get a fiscal cliff deal.
At lunchtime in the East, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is flat at 4592.1pts.
After a solid week for mining stocks in which iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) has risen by more than 13pct, there's a bit of mixed movement in the materials sector today. FMG shares are down 1.6pct to $4.21 however BHP Billiton (BHP) continues to gain, after agreeing to a US$1.63 billion cash deal to offload its stake in the proposed Browse gas project to China's PetroChina. BHP shares are firmer by 0.4pct to $35.91.
Health care stocks are an area of support, with CSL (CSL) firmer by 0.4pct to $54.72 and Cochlear (COH) up 0.5pct to $77.21.
The Australian dollar is buying US105.46c, £0.6537 and €80.72c.
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