MID-SESSION REPORT (12.15pm AEDT)
The Australian sharemarket is having its worst day since early February, partly driven by a fall in China's monthly trade surplus and a weaker iron ore price. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 0.7 per cent, with the mining sector the the biggest loser. This is only the sixth time in 23 sessions that the local market is losing ground.
Resource stocks are down 3.3 per cent, with iron ore miners Fortescue Metals (FMG), Rio Tinto (RIO) and diversified miner BHP Billiton (BHP) holding the market back most, together with gold producer Newcrest Mining (NCM) These four companies are wiping out 23 points from the All Ordinaries Index (XAO) which is down by 42pts. Iron ore fell US$2.7 to US$114.2/t on Friday; an eight-month low. Rio Tinto (RIO), Australia's biggest iron ore miner is down 4.7 per cent, BHP is down 3.4 per cent and FMG is 9 per cent softer.
Leighton Holdings (LEI) is up 11 per cent, adding to last week's 14 per cent surge. German based Hochtief, which is a majority shareholder in LEI, says it intends to lift its stake in the Australian construction business by 15 per cent; spending around $1.15bn in the process to hold 74.23 per cent of LEI. The market was puzzled by the surge last week and LEI issued a statement saying it wasn't aware why its shares were higher.
No major economic news is scheduled for release today in Australia or the region. Public holidays in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Tasmania could keep volume a little softer than usual today.
Both the U.S. and Canada have entered daylight savings, meaning that U.S. sharemarkets will trade between 12.30am (AEDT) and 7am (AEDT).
Tomorrow, tourist arrivals and the NAB business survey for February will be issued. The main event locally this week however will be this Thursday's monthly jobs report. The market is expecting the creation of around 15,000 jobs and a steady 6 per cent jobless rate. The change in the number of hours worked will be a key component of the report, as a rise in working hours tends to be a sign full-time employment could pick up.
At lunch, 752 million shares have changed hands, worth just $1.79 billion. 352 stocks are higher, 423 are in the red and 293 are unchanged.
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