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Market Update

Australian Building Approvals Fall 4.4%, Stocks Ease

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 8:04 AM ET February 04 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian stocks eased for the second day in a row ahead of rate announcement from Reserve Bank of Australia tomorrow. Stocks were also under pressure after the home building approvals declined 4.4% in January. Transurban and Cochlear are set to release earnings tomorrow.

Australian markets traded lower for the second day in a row ahead of the central bank meeting tomorrow.

Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to take a wait and see approach despite the latest weak economy data released today.

Iron ore prices in the spot market were on the rise but the building approvals declined 4.4% according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Economists were looking for an increase of 1%.

Separately, ANZ job advertising index declined 0.9% in January and a private measure of inflation tracked by Melbourne Institute indicated prices rose 0.3% in January.

The ASX 200 index slipped 13.60 to 4,907.50 and the broader All Ordinaries decreased 12.79 to 4,944.80.

The Australian dollar declined and closed at $1.043 and traded at a five-year high of 96.70 yen and dropped to a fourteen-month low of 76.60 euro cents.

Australian government bonds declined to a nine-month low and traded at 96.435 after a sell-off in treasury bonds markets in the U.S. and Europe.

Stock Movers

Mining stocks were lower despite the spot iron ore price increasing to US$153.20.

Rio Tinto increased 1.2% to $67.99 after the Western Australia approved the $3 billion Pilbara mine expansion. BHP fell 0.3% to $37.81.

Newcrest Mining slumped 12 cents to $23.51. Kingsgate closed unchanged at $4.05 and Whitehaven Coal added 3 cents to $3.29.

Transfield Services slid 3 cents to $1.80 and engineering contractor WorleyParsons rose 12 cents to $25.45. Monadelphous Group slumped 22 cents to $26.64 and Downer EDI slipped 8 cents to $4.54.

Lin Energy dropped 4.5% to $2.05 after a report in BusinessDay questioned abilities of the company to deliver ultra-clean fuel around $30 a barrel.

Aquila Resources lost as much as 10% before recovering to close down 3.6% after the company postponed its iron ore project in West Pilbara.

Lend Lease decreased 11 cents to $10.44.

Oil Search Limited fell 3 cents to $7.29 and Santos Limited gained 7 cents to $11.97. Beach Energy lowered 2 cent to $1.39.

Woodside Petroleum slumped 19 cents to $35.46 and Origin Energy Limited slid 1 cent to $12.49.

Woolworths increased 20 cents to $31.61. Kathmandu rose 1 cent to $1.86 and Wesfarmers slumped 19 cents to $37.61

David Jones Limited lowered 3 cents to $2.49 and Wesfarmers decreased 19 cents to $37.61. Breville Group closed unchanged at $6.79.

Billabong added 0.5 cents to 95.5 cents.

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc