After moving up marginally in early trades, the Australian stock market pared its modest gains and slipped into negative territory on Friday with investors indulging in some profit taking after recent gains. The overnight flat close on Wall Street and a lack of triggers from the home front are also contributing to the market's decline.
Energy, industrial and mining stocks are finding some support, while financial, information technology and telecommunications are mostly trading weak.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index, which edged up to 4,313.2 in early trades, is currently trading at 4,296.5, down 11.8 points or 0.3 percent from its previous close. The broader All Ordinaries index is down 8.9 points or 0.2 percent at 4,321.2, off an early high of 4,336.1.
Among top miners, BHP Billiton (BHP, BBL) and Rio Tinto (RIO, RIO.L) are up with modest gains, while Fortescue Metals and Newcrest Mining are down marginally.
In the energy sector, Santos is up 1.1 percent, Origin Energy is gaining about 1.3 percent and Woodside Petroleum is up 0.3 percent, while Oil Search and Caltex Australia are down 0.4 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.
Among bank stocks, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, National Australia Bank and Westpac (WBK) are down 0.6 to 1.1 percent, while ANZ Bank (ANZ) is trading flat. Bendigo & Adelaide Bank and Bank of Queensland are down 0.6 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Crown Limited's full-year profit jumped 53 percent to A$513.3 million in the year to June 30, 2012, due to higher revenues from Australian operations. The stock is trading nearly 3 percent up.
Shares of property management and development company Goodman Group are up 1.7 percent following the company reporting a full-year net profit of A$408.3 million, up 4.2 percent on a net profit of A$392 million it had posted in the previous year.
Boart Longyear is up 4.2 percent. Seven West Media is adding 3.3 percent. Leighton Holdings, Panaust, Boral, News Corporation (NWS), Sims Metal Management, Iluka Resources and Alumina are trading higher by 2 to 3 percent.
Paladin Energy is up nearly 2 percent. Campbell Brothers, Qantas Airways, Perseus Mining, Metcash and Aurora Oil & Gas are also trading notably higher.
Tabcorp Holdings is down more than 8 percent. Computershare and Tatts Group are trading lower by 1.5 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.
On Wall Street, stocks turned in a lacklustre performance on Thursday with traders refraining from making significant moves. The major averages remained stuck near the unchanged line throughout the session after ending the previous session nearly flat.
The Dow edged down 10.4 points or 0.1 percent to 13,165.2, while the Nasdaq rose 7.4 points or 0.3 percent to 3,018.6 and the S&P 500 crept up 0.6 points or less than a tenth of a percent to 1,402.8.
Major European markets too ended on a mixed note on Thursday. While the German DAX index closed just below the unchanged line, the U.K.'s FTSE 100 index edged up by 0.1 percent and the French CAC 40 index gained 0.5 percent.
U.S. crude oil settled a penny higher on Thursday, mostly on expectation of further monetary policy easing after data from China showed a drop in Chinese consumer price inflation to a 30-month low in July.
Crude Oil futures for September delivery gained $0.01 to close at $93.36 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, after scaling a high of $94.21 a barrel intraday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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