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Market Update

Auto and Retail Sales Lift Australian Stocks, RBA on Hold


Author: Marcus Jacob
ticker.com
Last Update: 9:28 AM ET March 05 2013

6:30 PM Sydney Australian stocks closed higher after retail sales unexpectedly increased in January after falling for three months in a row. Reserve Bank of Australia left key rate at 3% for the second month in a row. Automobile sales in February increased 5.2%.

Australian stocks closed higher after a raft of economic data offered a mild optimism and the Reserve Bank left its key lending rate unchanged at 3% for the second month.

In a separate report, retail sales in January increased 0.9% after falling for three months in a row.

The largest contributor to the increase in sales was other retailing category that includes recreational goods, pharmaceutical and person and office stationery, according to the data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Automobile sales in February increased 5.2% from a year ago month according to the latest data released by the Australian Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. Sales in January increased 5.6% and seasonally adjusted sales were flat.

Auto sales increase is in a stark contrast to the weak retail sales and low interest rates and high dollar kept the prices of imported cards in check.

The ASX 200 index climbed 64.90 or 1.3% to 5,075.40 and the broader All Ordinaries jumped 59.61 or 1.2% to 5,088.15.

The Australian dollar declined to $1.025.

Stock Movers

Rio Tinto fell 5 cents to $63.60 and BHP slid 17 cents to $35.40. Lend Lease jumped 26 cents to $10.42. Fortescue Metals Group slipped 3 cents to $4.34.

Woodside Petroleum gained 12 cents to $36.63 and Santos increased 13 cents to $13.11.

Westpac climbed 2.9% to $31.25, Commonwealth jumped 2.3% to $68.68 and National Australia Bank advanced 1.6% to $30.59 and ANZ increased 1.8% to $28.87.

QBE added 10 cents to $13.95.

Woolworths advanced 3.1% to $35.15 and Wesfarmers climbed 2.7% to $42.20. David Jones soared 3.5% to $2.97.

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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