MID-SESSION REPORT (12.20pm AEDT)
Despite a better start to the trading session this morning, the Australian sharemarket has slipped into the red with no major events to act as market drivers. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 0.2 per cent, with some modest gains from the financials helping to limit the losses.
This is the first full trading week in a fortnight, with no public holidays globally to keep investors at bay. Historically however, the first uninterrupted week of the year tends to remain a quiet time for investors. Over the past decade, an average of $3.4 billion worth of shares have been traded each day this week (around 25 per cent fewer than usual).
The miners kicked off the day in the black despite a slump in commodity prices on Friday. Those improvements were short lived though, with BHP Billiton (BHP) easing by 0.53 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) falling by 0.76 per cent and gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM), which lost a staggering 64.8 per cent of its value in 2013, is down 1.21 per cent at lunch.
Amongst the banks, Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is up 0.05 per cent while the three remaining majors have been rising slightly only to fall back into negative territory shortly after.
On the economic front, a monthly reading on the health of Australia's services industry has once again disappointed. The Performance of Services Index (PSI) fell by 2.8pts to 46.1pts in December, making it the lowest reading since August 2013. This typically has a negligible impact on the broader sharemarket.
The Australian dollar is firmer and buys US89.7 cents. Comments from a number of Federal Reserve officials over the past week have move the US dollar modestly. Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke called for continued economic stimulus while the President of the Philadelphia Fed said the US central bank could cut its monthly stimulus by more than US$10 billion each month if economic data improves by a greater than expected margin in the coming months.
At lunch, just 675 million shares have been traded, worth $867 million. 434 shares are higher, 316 are in the red and 286 are unchanged.
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