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Equities withstand negative leads: Afternoon market insights

Australian equity markets were flat today despite negative leads from the northern hemisphere overnight. The S&P/ASX200 rose gradually, peaking at noon and finishing up slightly.

Retail stocks gained after the ABS released data indicating inflation rose less than expected, leading to hopes of a RBA cash rate cut. But banks may not cut housing mortgage rates even if the RBA cuts its cash rate, as unresolved European sovereign debt continues to worry global financial markets – increasing the cost of money on wholesale markets.

Australian industry sectors that fell included the metals and mining, minerals, materials, resources and gold sectors.

The S&P/ASX200 was up 0.18% to 4360.30. The All Ordinaries Index was flat at 4433.60.

The day’s winners

Telecom Corporation of New Zealand (ASX: TEL) was up 3.48% to $2.08 at 3pm after announcing the appointment of Simon Moutter as CEO. Moutter is the current CEO of Auckland airport and was the chief operating officer of Telecom New Zealand previously. The company bought back 2.15 million shares last week.

Mirabela’s (ASX: MBN) share price was up 8.51% to 0.51 at 3.25pm. Mirabela Nickel is a nickel producer, operating one of the world’s largest open pit nickel sulphide mines, in Brazil. The company is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (MNB) as well as the ASX.

The day’s losers

Paladin Energy (ASX: PDN) was down 7.02% to $1.562 at 3pm. Paladin Energy is a uranium production company with projects in Australia and Africa. During a period of sustained downturn in global uranium markets, Paladin accumulated a portfolio of advanced uranium projects each having production potential.

Brisbane-based Discovery Metals (ASX: DML) was down 5.57% to $1.695. The company’s major asset is the Boseto copper mine in north-west Botswana. Yesterday, its major shareholder, US banking giant JPMorgan Chase, bought nearly 5 million more shares to put its ownership up to 8.37%.

Sector movers

The strongest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Telecommunication Services (Sector) which was up 2.06% to 1192.90.

The weakest sector was the All Ordinaries gold (Sub Industry) which was down 2.59% to 5645.5.

Currency

The Australian dollar rose today. One Australian dollar was buying $US1.0263 at 3.30pm.

Asia

Asian markets fell for the fourth straight session as resistance to balancing budgets continued in Europe.

Japan’s NIKKEI 225 was down 0.78%, or 74.11 points, at 3.45pm.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was flat at 20622.80.

“It’s a time of a greatly unsettled atmosphere in Europe,” Quintin Price, the global investment chief for fundamental equities at BlackRock, told Bloomberg. BlackRock has about $3.68 trillion in assets. “You see this resistance to austerity. Europe continues to be central.”

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