Market echoes northern hemisphere losses: Afternoon market insights

The Australian market was flat today following sharemarket losses in the northern hemisphere.

The S&P/ASX200 fell quickly in the first half hour on news of European and US equity losses, then gradually gained for the rest of the day to close about even.

Australian resources, metals and mining, materials and energy sectors declined, while healthcare, consumer staples, telecommunication services and information technology gained.

The S&P/ASX200 was flat, at 0.03% up to 4338.10. The All Ordinaries Index was down 0.05% to 4422.10.

The day’s winners

Australia’s biggest insurance company, QBE Insurance (ASX: QBE), rose 4.39% to $14.51 at 3pm. QBE released its 2011 results today which showed a reduction in profits due to natural disasters, but said it would still pay a dividend with an increased 25% franking.

Ardent Leisure (ASX: AAD) rose 3.61% to $1.16 at 3.10pm. Ardent is the owner of leisure businesses in Australia and the United States. It was up 3.11% yesterday.

The day’s losers

Transfield Services (ASX: TSE) was down 13.65% to $2.15 at 3.10pm. Transfield released a report today showing a 23% decline in profit guidance.

Retailer David Jones (ASX: DJS) had fallen 5.37% to $2.29 by 3.10pm.

Sector movers

The strongest sector was the S&P/ASX 200 Health Care (Sector) index which was up 1.53% to 132.7 at 3.10pm.

The weakest sector was the All Ordinaries Gold (Sub-Industry) which was down 2.31% to 5937.90 at 3.15pm.

Currency

The Australian dollar fell on the back of a stronger US dollar and weaker commodity prices. One Australian dollar was buying $US1.0269 at 3.20pm.

Asian markets

Japan’s NIKKEI 225 was down 1.87%, or 188.23 points, to 9862.23 at 3.30pm AEST.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.31% to 20791.00.

Asian financial markets were mixed today as China moved to make its capital markets more open by doubling the amount foreigners could invest in Chinese stocks, bonds and bank deposits. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index fell 1.4% to 126.67 at 2.09pm.

The China Securities Regulatory Commission increased its quotas for qualified foreign institutional investors by$US50 billion ($AU48.7 billion), according to a statement on its website yesterday.

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