Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 2/25/2013

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The Australian sharemarket has opened the week higher following strong global leads over the weekend.

Globally, US sharemarkets rebounded on Friday as bargain hunters stepped in. Shares in Hewlett Packard surged 12.3pct in response to a solid earnings report. The Dow Jones rose by 120pts or 0.9pct with the S&P 500 index also up by 0.9pct and the Nasdaq rose 30pts or 1.0pct. Over the week, the Dow was modestly higher while the NASDAQ was down 1pct on the week. European shares also rebounded, assisted by stronger German economic data.

Reporting season is starting to wind down. Today, oil refiner Caltex Australia Limited (CTX) has swung to a FY $57M profit, from a loss last year. Excluding the effect of changes in the world oil price, profit came in at $149M for the year. CTX will pay shareholders a 23c per share dividend. CTX shares are up 2.5pct to $18.70 at lunchtime in the East.

The Ten Network (TEN) is among the top performers in the ASX200 following a management change. Senior News Corp executive Hamish McLennan will take up the job on March 18 after TEN terminated contract of James Warburton on Friday. TEN shares are firmer by 7pct to 31.5c at lunchtime.

Qantas (QAN) non-director Corrine Namblard has left the group after being connected to an Italian corruption investigation. Ms Namblard has denied any unlawful activity in relation to the investigation into the privatisation of Siena airport, but is resigning in the best interests of Qantas and herself while investigations continued. Ms Namblard, a French financier who joined the Qantas board in 2011, has been connected to the allegations of bid rigging by Italy´s Monte dei Paschi di Siena in 2007. At the time of the bid, Ms Namblard was chief executive of the successful bidder for the airport, Luxembourg´s Galaxy Fund. QAN shares are slightly firmer to $1.64.

The Australian dollar is weaker against the greenback, buying US102.96 but is stronger against the pound following a downgrade to the UK economy by ratings agency Moody's over the weekend. One AUD is worth US102.95c, £0.6801 and €78.06c.

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