The Australian market is having a choppy ride on Friday with investors treading cautiously and indulging in stock specific activity, despite a positive lead from Wall Street.
Energy, property trusts and telecommunications stocks are trading slightly higher, while financial, mining and consumer staples stocks are mostly trading flat.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which declined to 4,035 after surging to around 4,062 in early trades, is currently at 4,043, up slightly from the unchanged line.
The broader All Ordinaries index is up 1.2 points at 4,091, nearly 20 points off an early high of 4,109.1.
Goodman Group shares are up nearly 3 percent. QBE Insurance Group and Boart Longyear are trading higher by over 2 percent.
Bluescope Steel, David Jones, Qantas Airways, Westfield Group and Macquarie Group are up 1 to 1.8 percent.
Among the prominent losers, Seven West Media and Lynas Corp. are down 2.2 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
Bendigo & Adelaide Bank, Suncorp Group, Aquarius Platinum, Monadelphous Group, Lend Lease, CFS Retail Property Trust, Paladin Energy, Oil Search and Computershare are also trading notably lower.
Echo Entertainment Group has announced that it expects a drop in its full-year earnings due to weak consumer sentiment. The update came as rival casino operator Crown, controlled by James Packer, increased its stake in Echo to 10 percent, and announced its intention to take an even greater ownership stake.
Echo said it expected to report earnings of between A$270 million and A$315 million for the year to June 30, which would be down from A$347 million in the previous financial year.
According to reports, Coalworks will recommend to its shareholders an improved takeover offer from Whitehaven Coal. Whitehaven, which itself is the target of a takeover offer from billionaire Nathuan Tinkler who already owns part of the company, has agreed to an amendment that will take its A$142 million takeover offer up to A$145.6 million. Whitehaven has reportedly removed all conditions on its offer.
Among other markets in the Asia-Pacific region, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Shanghai, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Singapore are trading higher, with their benchmark gaining 0.2 to 1.2 percent. Meanwhile, South Korea is the only market in negative territory. Markets across the region ended mostly lower on Thursday.
On Wall Street, stocks ended with strong gains on Thursday amid optimism about further stimulus. The market saw high volatility in the final hour on the back of reports that central banks from major economies may take necessary steps to stabilize the financial markets after the Greek elections on Sunday.
The Dow jumped 155.5 points or 1.2 percent to 12,651.9, the Nasdaq rose 17.7 points or 0.6 percent to 2,836.3 and the S&P 500 climbed 14.2 points or 1.1 percent to 1,329.1.
Major European markets ended on a mixed note on Thursday. While the French CAC 40 index crept up 0.1 percent, the German DAX index and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged lower by 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
U.S. crude oil futures settled sharply higher on Thursday, on hopes that the OPEC will leave its production ceiling unchanged. Light Sweet Crude Oil futures for July delivery moved up $1.29 or 1.6 percent to close at $83.91 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Thursday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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