MID-SESSION REPORT (12.30pm AEST)
The Australian share market is slightly weaker at lunchtime in the East, despite positive offshore gains. Yesterday the Australian share market gained 0.5 per cent.
In economic news, retail sales rose 0.2 per cent in April, the 12th consecutive month of gains. However the rise was weaker than market expectations of a 0.3 per cent gain.
Sales rose in five of the eight states and territories, led by Victoria (up 0.8 per cent), followed by the Northern Territory (0.5 per cent), Tasmania (up 0.4 per cent), and NSW and South Australia (both up 0.1 per cent). Sales fell for the fourth consecutive month in the ACT (down 0.8 per cent in April). Annual sales in the ACT are down 2 per cent on a year ago - the biggest contraction in two years.
In China, the HSBC China final Performance of Manufacturing Index reading came in weaker at 49.4 points versus a flash estimate of 49.7.
Energy stocks are a little weaker down 0.2 per cent while miners are lower by the same amount. Banking stocks are flat.
Lynas Corp (LYC) shares are the best performing on the ASX 200 rising by 3.2 per cent to 16c. The rare earths miner successfully raised $40 million last week through a capital raising which analysts say will buy it time to ramp up production.
Karoon Gas (KAR) also continues to gain, after rising 43 per cent yesterday. The oil and gas exploration company resumed trade after being halted since mid-April yesterday, announcing it has sold some key gas assets to Origin Energy (ORG).
Retail stocks are generally weaker following the slightly softer retail sales numbers. Myer Limited (MYR) is down 2.3 per cent while Kathmandu (KMD) is lower by 2.5 per cent.
The Reserve Bank of Australia hands down its monthly interest rate decision this afternoon. No change is expected to the official cash rate of 2.5 per cent.
The Australian dollar is buying US92.44c, £0.552 and €67.96c.
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