Australian Stock Market Report – Midday June 24, 2014

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The Australian sharemarket is losing ground at lunch, with U.S. market weakness providing a negative lead for local shares. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) is down 0.4 per cent, with all sectors in the red. On Monday, the Australian market rose by 0.4 per cent thanks to better than expected economic news in China. 

The retail sector is in focus, with David Jones (DJS) up 4.1 per cent and clothing retailer Country Road (CTY) up 14.3 per cent. South Africa's Woolworths has confirmed its $213 million takeover of CTY lifting both Australian retailers on the local market. Should the acquisition go ahead, it will allow Woolworths to fully integrate the company into its Australian portfolio. One of the conditions of the offer is that the acquisition of DJS also goes ahead. Adventure retailer Kathmandu (KMD) has downgraded its profit expectations by 10-15 per cent for the 11 months to June. KMD shares are down 11.4 per cent.

Commodity prices were mixed overnight, with the price of oil falling by around 0.5 per cent, iron ore jumping 1.4 per cent while base metals were mostly firmer. Fear of potential job losses at BHP Billiton (BHP) to cut costs is not holding back Australia's biggest miner at lunch. BHP is up 0.1 per cent, gold miner Newcrest Mining (NCM) is also up slightly thanks to a firmer gold price. Iron ore producer Fortescue Metals (FMG) is 0.5 per cent lower.

The major banks are wiping out 9.3pts from the All Ordinaries Index, with both National Australia Bank (NAB) and ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) down 0.85 per cent.

At lunch, 925.6 million shares have changed hands worth $1.52 billion. 374 stocks are higher, 504 stocks are in the red and 382 are unchanged. 

Last night, global markets had an uninspiring session, with the DOW slipping by 0.1 per cent, the UK's FTSE dropping by 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX ending 0.7 per cent lower. 

No major economic data is due for release in Australia, Asia or Europe tonight. There will be no shortage of economic data in the U.S. however. Home prices, consumer confidence and new home sales will all be issued. 

The Australian dollar remains strong, buying US94.2 cents. 

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