Australian Stock Market Report – Midday 5/8/14

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The Australian sharemarket is partly making up for yesterday's slump, driven by a strong lead from Wall Street overnight. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up 0.6 per cent at lunch. 

A better than expected employment report has been pushing the Australian dollar higher to US93.5c. 14,200 jobs were created in April; 5,000 more than expected. Full time employment contributed to all the gains, with part time jobs remaining unchanged. The unemployment rate is steady at 5.8 per cent. 

All sectors with the exception of the consumer discretionaries are trading higher at lunch. The miners are outperformers thanks to a 1.2 per cent surge from Australia's largest miner BHP Billiton (BHP) and a 2.7 per cent rise from the smaller Fortescue Metals (FMG). Rio Tinto (RIO) has confirmed it's taking steps to aggressively cut costs at its Annual General Meeting (AGM) today. RIO is up 0.8 per cent. Oil refiner, Caltex (CTX) has reconfirmed its Kurnell refinery in Sydney is due to be transformed into Australia's biggest fuel import terminal by year-end. The price of gold slumped overnight; hurting gold producers so far today. 

The financials are up 0.7 per cent, erasing yesterday's 0.75 per cent tumble. National Australia Bank (NAB) is firmer despite an early tumble following its half-year earnings result. NAB posted a $3.15bn 1H14 cash profit today; largely in-line with market estimates and an 8.5 per cent rise on last year. Its revenue and interim dividend fell a touch short of market estimates. AMP is holding its AGM today. 

The retailers are mixed, with Myer (MYR), Harvey Norman (HVN) and JB Hi-FI (JBH) all losing ground while David Jones and Flight Centre are modestly higher.

Monthly Chinese trade data for April is eagerly anticipated by the market. A rise in China's trade surplus is expected. 

Australia tourist arrivals and departures for April and WA's State Budget are also out today. 

At lunch, 672.9m shares have changed hands, worth $1.85bn. 446 stocks are higher, 316 are in the red and 295 are unchanged.

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