5:00 PM Sydney – Australian indexes in choppy trading lacked direction and traded near flat line. Retail sales in January increased 1.2% and trade surplus in the month increased to a seasonally adjusted $1.43 billion, largest since August 2011.
Australian stocks struggled near the flat line and retail sales in January were ahead of expectations and trade balance reached a two-and-a-half year high.
January retail sales increased 1.2% to $22.92 billion, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Trade surplus in January increased to a seasonally adjusted $1.43 billion, the statistics agency said in a separate report today. The surplus in December was revised higher to $591 million.
In January, exports increased 4% and imports gained 1% adjusted for seasonal factors.
The trade surplus was the largest since the $2.1 billion recorded in August 2011.
Australian dollar jumped to 90.11 U.S. cents and stock market trading turnover dropped to 845 million shares worth $4.8 billion.
The ASX 200 index slid 0.30 to 5,445.90 and the broader All Ordinaries inched up 2.40 to 5,459.70.
Stocks in Review
rose 18 cents to $64.81. BHP
jumped 44 cents to $37.80. Woodside Petroleum Limited
added 21 to $38.37.
climbed 58 cents to $34.23 and the bank plans to raise about $500 million through a subordinated notes offering to wholesale investors in denominations of $100,000 with a minimum transfer amount of $500,000.
Bank of Queensland Limited
gained 1.7% to $12.48 and Moody''s revised higher its external debt rating to A3 from Baa1.
BlueScope Steel Limited
rose 0.5% to $6.28 after the flat steel producer plans to sell some of its assets in Western Australia to get a regulatory approval of $23 million purchase of the OneSteel sheet and coil business.
climbed 4.9% to $11.03 after the online advertising company acquired 49.9% in South Korea-based online automotive trading website SK Encar for $126 million.