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Shares reflect positive US lead: Afternoon market insights

The Australian market finished up slightly after positive leads from the United States overnight. The S&P200 rose quickly just after opening but started to slowly decline all day after 10.20am to finish just above water. Australian healthcare, telecommunication services, utilities, industrials and information technology services all rose.

The S&P/ASX200 was up 0.26% to 4371.80. The All Ordinaries Index was up 0.17% to 4441.60.

The day’s winners

Perseus Mining (ASX: PRU) was up 3.73% to $2.50 at 3pm. Perseus Mining is a gold explorer focused on underexplored gold belts in West Africa. It became a producer during 2011 and started commercial production this year.

Paladin Energy (ASX: PDN) rose 3.94% to $1.637 at 3pm. The uranium miner, which has projects in Australia and two mines in Africa, announced on Tuesday it had issued $US274 million worth of five-year unsecured convertible bonds.

The day’s losers

Seven West Media (ASX: SWM) had fallen 18.04% to $3.09 by 2.40pm. It announced on Tuesday evening it had downgraded its earnings guidance by about 10% due to weak advertising demand. Seven West is a diversified media and mining supply company based in Perth which owns national television station Seven, Perth’s only major metropolitan newspaper, The West Australian, magazines and earth-moving equipment maker Caterpillar.

APN Media (ASX: SGM) was down 3.66% to $0.79 at 3pm. APN News & media announced the resignation of Gavin O’Reilly as chairman on April 20. APN publishes 20 daily and more than 100 non-daily newspapers across Australia and New Zealand. APN owns the largest outdoor advertising business in Australia/New Zealand and operations in Hong Kong and Indonesia. In New Zealand it owns three of the top five national radio networks and the New Zealand Herald newspaper. In Australia the company owns several metro radio networks.

Sector movers

The strongest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Health Care (Sector) which was up 0.75% to 9002.20.

The weakest sector was the All Ordinaries Gold (Sub-Industry) index which was down 2% to 5539.1 at 3.20pm.

Currency

One Australian dollar was buying $US1.0364 at 3.20pm.

Asia

Asian financial markets were mixed following the positive lead from the US overnight. South Korea’s economy grew at the fastest pace in a year, buoying its currency, despite speculation North Korea was close to announcing a nuclear bomb test. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) climbed 0.5% in Tokyo. The Shanghai Comp was down 0.45% to 2397.60.

The Dow Jones Asian Titans 50 Index was up 0.40% at 3.30pm AEST. The Asian Dow is a market capitalisation-weighted index of Asia-Pacific stocks designed to capture the blue-chip leaders in the region which includes the 50 largest Japan-based and 50 largest non-Japan based stocks.

US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke boosted Asian markets when he said overnight the central bank was ready to ease monetary policy further, if necessary.

"(The Fed's) statements provided confidence that recovery is on track with the security that someone has their back if things go pear-shaped," Sydney-based CMC Markets trader Miguel Audencial told the Wall Street Journal.

“The Federal Reserve didn’t rule out the possibility of additional monetary easing,” Mitsushige Akino told Bloomberg. Akino oversees about $600 million at Ichiyoshi Investment Management in Tokyo. “That’s leading to confidence among investors.”

Japan’s NIKKEI 225 was slightly down 0.24%, or 22.79 points, to 9538.22 at 3.30pm.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.37%, or 75.38 points, to 20721.70.

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