MID-SESSION REPORT (12.20pm AEST)
The Australian sharemarket is off to a quiet start following a holiday in the U.S on Friday. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down by just a few points with weakness from the miners, energy stocks, industrials and healthcare sector the biggest drags.
Online travel business Wotif.com (WTF) is up 24 per cent after receiving a $700 million takeover bid by global player, Expedia. This comes as WTF's profit fell by close to 20 per cent in the previous half. Expedia is an internet-based travel website started by Microsoft over a decade ago. WTF shares slumped by 47 per cent in 2013.
The big banks are all lower by around 0.3 per cent; however gains from property groups such as Westfield Corp, Scentre, Goodman and insurer QBE Insurance are keeping the financials modestly firmer.
Commodity prices were mostly weaker in UK trade on Friday, pushing the miners lower this morning. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals (FMG) is down 2.2 per cent, Rio Tinto (RIO) is down 0.6 per cent and BHP Billiton (BHP) is easing by 0.3 per cent.
At lunch, 1.01 billion shares have changed hands worth $1.37 billion. 454 stocks are higher, 392 are in the red and 300 are unchanged.
On the economic front, a monthly report measuring job advertisement numbers across the economy and another on tourist arrival statistics have both been released. Tourist arrivals in May hit a record 583,600; a 13.7 per cent rise on a year ago. Tourist departures from Australia fell by 4.5 per cent. The number of job advertisements in newspapers and on websites rose by 4.3 per cent in June.
Looking ahead, the latest unemployment report will be issued on Thursday. The market is expecting the creation of around 12,000 jobs and a slightly higher jobless rate of 5.9 per cent over June. Developments with full time employment nationally will be most important. Since the start of this year just over 100,000 full-time jobs have been created to date. This is not only the best start to a calendar year in seven years, it also shows a level of confidence on the part of Australian businesses.
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