Despite a positive lead from Wall Street, the Australian stock market is trading weak on Wednesday with investors indulging in some selling at several front line counters.
Mining and energy stocks are the prominent losers. Bank stocks opened on a firm note but are currently trading off their highs. Consumer discretionary, healthcare and industrial stocks are trading mixed.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which edged up to 4,144.2 in early trades, is currently down 15 points or 0.4 percent at 4,125.8. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 16 points or 0.4 percent at 4,159.3, after advancing to 4,177.3 in opening trades.
Among miners, Rio Tinto is down 2.3 percent, Newcrest Mining is losing about 2.5 percent and Fortescue Metals is down with a loss of 3.4 percent, while BHP Billiton is trading lower by 1.3 percent.
BHP Billiton announced that iron ore production is likely to rise five percent to a record 40.89 million tonnes in 2013 after a bumper result for the June quarter.
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum is down 1.3 percent, Santos is trading 2.4 percent down, Origin Energy is losing about 1.8 percent and Oil Search is down 0.4 percent, while Caltex Australia is trading flat.
Among bank stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac are trading higher by over 1 percent, while National Australia Bank and ANZ Bank are up marginally. Bank of Queensland is up 0.7 percent and Bendigo & Adelaide Bank is trading flat.
Perseus Mining is trading lower by about 7 percent. Paladin Energy, Panaust, Iluka Resources, Lynas Corporation, Alumina and WorleyParsons are down 2 to 5 percent. Whitehaven Coal, Bluescope Steel, Fairfax Media and David Jones are also trading notably lower.
Meanwhile, Sims Metal Management and Myer Holdings are trading in positive territory, gaining 1.8 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.
In economic news, the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, was at 1.6 per cent in May, well below its long-term average of 2.6 per cent.
However, Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the growth rate is the fastest since September 2011 and it will improve in the latter half of 2012 and into early 2013.
In the currency market, the Australian dollar was quoting at US$1.0317 in early trades, higher than Tuesday's close of US$1.0297.
On Wall Street, stocks moved mostly higher on Tuesday, after seeing considerable volatility in morning trading. The markets benefited from a positive reaction to the latest batch of earnings news as well as the release of largely upbeat U.S. economic data.
The Dow climbed 78.3 points or 0.6 percent to 12,805.5, the Nasdaq rose 13.1 points or 0.5 percent to 2,910 and the S&P 500 advanced 10 points or 0.7 percent to 1,363.7.
Major European markets turned in a mixed performance on Tuesday. While the German DAX index crept up by 0.2 percent, the French CAC 40 index edged down by 0.1 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index ended lower by 0.6 percent.
U.S. crude oil futures rallied to end higher on Tuesday after the Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony to lawmakers failed to provide any clear hint at further quantitative easing.
Crude for August delivery gained $0.79 or 0.9 percent to close at $89.22 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after touching a low of $87.41 intraday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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