MID-SESSION REPORT (12.30pm AEST)
Despite a softer start to trade this morning, the Australian sharemarket has steadily improved in the lead-up to lunch. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is up 0.5 per cent, is improving for the second day and has defied the weak lead from Wall Street overnight.
The small Australian technology sector is the lone loser, slipping by 0.15 per cent with accounting software company Xero (XRO) and share registry business Computershare (CPU), two of the worst performers in the industry.
The mining sector is slightly higher; however iron ore producer Fortescue Metals (FMG) is sliding by 0.7 per cent following weaker than forecast production numbers. The iron ore miner produced a record 160 million tonne (mt) annualised run rate while it shipped 124.2 million tonnes for the full year. This fell short of FMG's own guidance. Bad weather, a strong Australian dollar and a weak iron ore price are all negatives for the industry. FMG is down 26 per cent this calendar year.
Energy company Roc Oil (ROC) is up 3.5 per cent after receiving its second unsolicited takeover bid in a matter of weeks. This is considered to be a separate bid to the one received in June. No specifics have been released by the company. ROC has mining interests in Australia, China and the UK.
The much larger Santos (STO) is up 0.1 per cent and has announced that oil production has kicked off from its Dua oil project, off the coast of Vietnam. STO estimates the gross production rate from the project to average 8,000 barrels per day for the first year of production. STO currently has a 31.875 per cent interest in the Dua project.
The major banks are up by as much as 1.1 per cent, with Westpac (WBC) the best performer. Improvements from the four majors are adding 13 points to the All Ordinaries Index.
On the economic front, there was no change in the number of home loans across the economy for owner occupiers.
At lunch, 940.1 million shares have changed hands worth $1.78 billion. 455 stocks are higher, 323 are in the red and 301 are unchanged.
Looking ahead tonight is expected to be quiet across global markets, with the Federal Budget Statement for June the only major event scheduled for this evening's trade. A budget surplus of around US$80 billion is expected by the market following May's US$130 billion deficit
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