RTTNews - The Australian market ended in positive territory for the sixth consecutive session Tuesday, although it ended off its highs, as traders preferred to lock in gains following a decent rally ahead of the reporting season in the country. Energy stocks continued to show strength, while banking stocks slipped on profit taking.

In the U.S., stocks continued their northward march and ended sharply higher after reports suggested that lender CIT Group has succeeded in securing a $3 billion loan from a group of its major shareholders. The company confirmed the reports after the markets closed. Positive earnings results from Halliburton (HAL), M&T Bank Corp. (MTB), Hasbro (HAS), Eaton (ETN) and Johnson Controls (JCI), as well as better-than-expected economic numbers lifted trader sentiment.

A report released from the Conference Board revealed that that its index of leading economic indicators increased increased by 0.7% in June following an upwardly revised 1.3% increase in May. Economists had expected the index to increase by 0.5 percent compared to the 1.2 percent increase originally reported for the previous month.

Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, in a speech, predicted modest growth starting in the second half of the year, though he said there is not likely to be a strong recovery in the medium term.

The Dow advanced by 104.21 points or 1.2% to 8,848, the Nasdaq climbed by 22.68 points or 1.2% to 1,909 and the S&P 500 rose by 10.74 points or 1.1% to 951.

The All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 4,044 and surged higher in early trading to a high of 4079, but drifted lower as traders preferred to take profits after five days of gains in the market. However, the market managed to end in the green with a gain of 4.10 points, or 0.10% at 4,048, with some support emerging from energy and material stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index ended literally flat with a marginal gain of 0.01% or 0.70 points at 4,051.

On the economic front, the minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia monetary policy meeting on July 7 showed that economic activity was not as weak as expected. At the meeting, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 3%, noting that the current stance of monetary policy supported sustainable growth and low inflation, leaving adequate flexibility to respond to developments as and when needed.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery ended the Asian trading session at $63.83, down $0.15 from its previous close in New York at $63.98 on Monday.

Almost all the sectors witnessed profit taking after the recent rally. Among metal and mining stocks, BHP Billiton gained 0.53% and Rio Tinto advanced 2.85%. However, Fortescue Metals slipped 1.64%, Gindalbie Metals lost 0.64%, Minara Resources shed 1.15% and Oz Minerals edged down 0.49%.
Uranium producer Energy Resources of Australia, however, continued its northward march and added another 3.17%. The company reported on Monday that it expects its profit for the first six months might triple from the same period last year.

Energy stocks also showed mixed trend. While Woodside Petroleum added 0.79% and Santos advanced 0.83, Oil Search bucked the trend and slipped 0.36%.

Retail stocks showed a mixed trend. Harvey Norman slumped 6.05% after reporting a sharp drop in quarterly sales. The company also noted that all of its 16 outlets maintained in Ireland are under-performing. David Jones fell 2.51%. However, Wesfarmers added 0.33% and Woolworths edged up 0.40%.

Mixed trend was also witnessed among gold stocks. Lihir Gold added 0.34% and Sino Gold Mining rose 1.35%. However, Newcrest Mining bucked the trend and shed 0.90%.

Banking stocks also ended on a mixed note. ANZ Bank slipped 0.59%, Commonwealth Bank Australia edged down 0.38% and National Australia Bank lost 1.36% . However, Westpac Banking bucked the trend and added 0.35%.

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