Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 1/30/2013

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The local market is improving for the 10th straight session, with the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) 0.2 per cent or 11.8 pts higher to 4922.6. July 2009 was the last time the market enjoyed such a long winning streak and shares are trading at their highest levels in 2 months.

Global markets ended higher overnight, with American equities (shares) boosted by some stronger than expected profit results from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and healthy sales from Amazon. Economic news was a touch disappointing however, with home prices and consumer confidence declining.

The mining and energy sectors are contributing most to the gains on the local market today, with BHP Billiton (BHP) up 1.08 per cent or 40 cents to $37.57 while the smaller Rio Tinto (RIO) is 1.44 per cent or 95 cents higher to $67.10. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals (FMG) is up 2.35 per cent or 6 cents to $4.80.

The insurance sector is recovering following heavy losses yesterday due to the potential costs associated with the Queensland floods. QBE Insurance (QBE) is up 3.99 per cent or 45 cents to $11.73 while Suncorp (SUN) is up 1.12 per cent or 11.5 cents to $10.81. The major insurers are considered to be in a stronger position to deal with natural disasters now than a few years ago and yesterday was perhaps a knee jerk reaction to the floods.

Australia's eighth biggest company, Wesfarmers (WES) is down 2.06 per cent or 79 cents to $38.03 following its quarterly sales report. Its Coles and Bunnings stores did most impressively while its Office Works and Target stores are lagging behind. WES shares are still up 25 per cent over the past year and are gaining broadly in-line with the Australian market this year. Coles recorded its 15th straight quarter of sales growth in the final three months of last year.

Three of the four major banks are higher by as much as 0.7 per cent, with ANZ the standout.

Following the start of daylight savings in October, major markets in the region will be trading between the hours mentioned below until April 2013.

The Hong Kong sharemarket trades in two sessions each day and will now open for trade between 12.30pm (AEDT) and 3pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 4pm (AEDT) and 7pm (AEDT).

Out of Japan, the first session will be between 11am (AEDT) and 1pm (AEDT) while the second session is between 2.30pm (AEDT) and 5pm (AEDT).

The Singapore exchange will be open for trade between 12pm and 3.30pm (AEDT) for the first session and then between 5pm and 8pm (AEDT) for the second.

U.S futures are currently pointing to a slightly weaker start to trade tonight. The U.S market trades between 1.30am (AEDT) and 8am (AEDT).

So far in trade at lunch, 1.03 billion shares have been traded worth just $1.86 billion. 466 shares are up, 392 are lower and 320 are currently unchanged.

The Australian dollar (AUD) buys US104.6 cents, €77.5 cents and £66.4 pence.

The AUD is the world's fifth most traded currency behind the U.S dollar, the Euro, Japanese Yen and British Pound. The AUD accounts for around 7 pct of all foreign exchange trades.

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