The Australian sharemarket is falling for the second straight day with the All Ordinaries index (XAO) off by 0.80 pct or 39 pts to 4951.9. Almost all sectors are weaker with the exception of the mining and energy companies.
The world’s largest miner, BHP Billiton (BHP) announced they will be buying US$4.75 billion worth of US shale gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp (CHK;us). CHK is America’s second largest producer of natural gas. BHP is amongst the best performers today and is up 2.05 pct or 94 cents to $46.79.
The big four banks are significantly lower with National Australia Bank (NAB), currently the worst performer, off by 1.91 pct or 50 cents to $25.64.
It is another big day on the reporting front, with property developer, Mirvac Group (MGR), Onesteel (OST), Oilsearch (OSH), subscription television provider, Austar (AUN), job search website, Seek (SEK) and Sonic Healthcare (SHL) all reporting throughout the day.
Yesterday, Australia’s largest travel agent, Flight Centre (FLT) rose slightly after posting a $70.5 million net profit for the six months to December 2010. This was around $20 million higher than the corresponding period in the previous year. FLT shares are pulling back at lunch by 2.33 pct or 55 cents to $23.09.
Australia’s largest steel producer, Bluescope Steel (BSL), posted its first half (July to December 2010) result prior to open yesterday, with a $55 million net loss after tax (NPAT). BSL shares are currently down 3 pct or 7 cents to $2.23 and has now fallen close to 6 pct so far this week.
Australia’s largest telco, Telstra (TLS) fell after going ex-dividend yesterday for its 14 cent a share dividend. TLS shares are down another 0.71 pct or 2 cents to $2.78.
The retailers are also pulling back today with department store owner, Myer (MYR) down 2.09 pct or 7 cents to $3.28 while its competitor, David Jones (DJS) has fallen by a less significant 0.86 pct or 4 cents to $4.59.
There is no economic data scheduled for release today in Australia and most of the Asian region.
Some Asian markets have started trading for the day. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index is 1.95 pct or 212.23 pts lower to 10645.3. China’s Shanghai Composite index is 0.15 pct or 4.49 pts lower to 2928.26. The Hong Kong stock exchange is yet to open for trade today in its first of two daily sessions.
The Australian dollar (AUD) has fallen over the last 24 hours and currently buys US100.57 cents.
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