Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 2/5/2013

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Local stocks are trading in the red at lunchtime in the East, following falls on European and US markets overnight due to political concern in Europe. The Dow Jones Index suffered a triple digit loss, after climbing above the 14,000pt level on Friday for the first time in five years.

At lunchtime in the East, the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 35.1pts or 0.7pct to 4894.

Hearing implant maker Cochlear (COH) has released first half numbers today, which have failed to impress the market. Revenue rose 1pct to a record $391.7 million, while sales were up 9pct in constant currency terms. COH has swung back to profit, reporting net profit of $77.7 million, up from a $20.4 million loss in the prior corresponding period, which was due to a product recall. However the market was expecting a result between $79-81 million. COH will pay shareholders an interim dividend of $1.25 per share, 40pct franked, up 4pct on the previous period. At lunchtime in the East, COH shares are down 5.7pct to $75.84.

Macquarie Group (MQG) has forecast a 10pct rise in full year profit numbers, due in March, up from FY12 profit of $730 million. CEO Nicholas Moore says the result could be even higher if improved market conditions persist, however client activity is still subdued for capital markets facing business. The market was clearly expecting more from MQG with its share price down 3.7pct in early trade to $37.34.

Toll road operator Transurban (TCL) has reported a 7pct rise in 1H earnings to $416.9 million thanks to increased traffic on its toll roads. However 1H net profit came in at $80.9 million, down from $93.2 million in the prior period. TCL shares are up 1.2pct in the early session to $6.17.

In economic news, Australia´s services sector contracted for the 12th consecutive month in January amid slowing activity in the mining sector and soft retail sales. The Australian Industry Group/Commonwealth Bank Australian Performance of Services Index (PSI), rose 2.1 points to 45.3 in January. Any reading below 50 indicates a contraction in the sector.

Meanwhile Australia's trade deficit narrowed to $427 million in December, with imports down 6pct and exports up 3pct.

The RBA hands down its February rate decision at 2.30pm AEDT with money markets factoring in a less than one in five chance that rates will be cut from the official cash rate of 3pct.

The Aussie dollar is worth US104.46c, €77.35c and £0.6629.

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