MID-SESSION REPORT (12.15pm AEST)
The Australian sharemarket is losing ground for the first time in eight trading sessions despite a firmer start. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down by 0.2 per cent; however is still hovering around a near six-year high.
The market has been a little quiet this week due to a number of major international events over the next four sessions. Tonight, a two-day monthly meeting of the U.S. central bank kicks off. The Federal Reserve's stimulus action in recent years has been one of the primary reasons the U.S. dollar has remained weak. A monthly employment report on Friday in the U.S. will also demand some attention and could set the tone for local and regional markets early next week. A Chinese economic reading on the state of our largest trading partner's manufacturing industry is out on Thursday. This will be important for the mining sector and currencies on that day.
The financials kicked off the day higher; however most are now losing some ground. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) hit an all-time record higher of $79.95 on the open and is now 0.08 per cent firmer to $79.51. ANZ Banking Group (ANZ), which issues its half-year profit results on Thursday, is down 0.11 per cent. Both ANZ and Westpac (WBC) are still near record highs.
Mining stocks are the biggest drag on trade, with heavyweights BHP Billiton (BHP), Rio Tinto (RIO), Newcrest and Fortescue Mining (FMG) wiping out around 5pts from the XAO.
Wesfarmer (WES) is down 1.37 per cent following a disappointing quarterly sales report. Its supermarket business (Coles) was weaker than expected as was Target and Kmart. Bunnings was the outperformer, with comparable sales expanding by 9.1 per cent over the quarter. Keep in mind that these quarterly results do not take into account the New Year and Easter breaks (6th Jan to 30th Mar). WES is underperforming the broader sharemarket by 5 per cent Year-To-Date (since 1 January).
There is no major economic news scheduled for release in Australia or the region to drive trade today. Japan's sharemarkets are closed due to the Showa Day holiday. It's a day which honours the former emperor's birthday.
The Australian dollar is softer, buying US92.4 cents at lunch.
So far, 749.1m stocks have changed hands, worth $2.19 billion. 354 stocks are higher, 422 are in the red and 337 are unchanged.
More from IBT Markets:
Follow us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter
Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox daily