View Comments
Market still flat mid-session
The West Australian

The Australian sharemarket is trading relatively flat as investors await the release of the latest manufacturing data from China.

At 9am, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was 2.2 points, or 0.05 per cent, higher at 4790.0 points, and the broader All Ordinaries index was up 2.4 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 4814.5 points.

On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was two points higher at 4755 points, with 8835 contracts traded.

IG Markets market strategist Stan Shamu said local investors were awaiting the release of the HSBC Flash PMI (purchasing managers' index) number later today.

"Generally, we see markets pretty steady when we have such an event coming up, particularly when markets have had a big run (upwards) and there's a bit of consolidation," Mr Shamu said.

On the local market at 9.03am in the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was off two cents at $37.04, Rio Tinto dipped 29 cents to $66.16, and Fortescue Metals was steady at $4.66 ahead of the release of its second quarter production report.

OZ Minerals backtracked 48 cents to $6.83 as it posted a drop in production in the final three months of 2012 and predicted copper production would fall in 2013 and gold may follow.

Gold miner Newcrest eased 28 cents to $23.27 as it maintained its full-year production forecasts after December quarter gold and copper production rose from the preceding three months.

Copper and gold producer PanAust was 18 cents lower at $3.17 as it forecast steady earnings in 2013 after meeting its production targets for 2012.

Linc Energy surged 33 cents or 15.28 per cent, to $2.49 after the company released two reports that South Australia is sitting on oil potentially worth more than $20 trillion.

Among the major banks, National Australia Bank was 25 cents richer at $27.00, ANZ added four cents to $25.98, Westpac climbed 27 cents to $27.02, and Commonwealth Bank advanced 39 cents to $63.06.

Among other stocks, national carrier Qantas Airways scraped off one cent to $1.51 as it offered its check-in and customer service staff voluntary redundancies after losing a multi-million-dollar contract with Air New Zealand.

National turnover was 739.6 million securities worth $1.48 billion, with 375 stocks up, 409 down and 278 unchanged.

On Wall Street overnight, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 67.12 points, or 0.49 per cent, to 13,779.33 points, its highest level since October 2007.

The US market was buoyed by strong earnings results in the technology sector and progress in the Washington fiscal budget debate.