(Adds details, comments, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY, April 12 Australian shares were flat in
midday trade on Friday, as a drop in mining stocks offset
strength among financials and defensive stocks.
Biggest lender the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
and National Australia Bank supported the market, with
each adding 0.4 percent. Westpac Banking Corp bucked
the trend, slipping 0.1 percent.
Global miners were weaker, Rio Tinto Ltd lost 2.5
percent after it suspended its mine operations in Kennecott,
Utah, after its copper Bingham canyon mine experienced a slide.
Rival BHP Billiton Ltd slid 0.6 percent.
U.S. stocks rose for a fourth straight day on Thursday,
sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 to new
closing highs as positive data on the labour market and an
encouraging retail outlook eased recent concerns about economic
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 1.3 points to 5,008.4 by
0135 GMT. The index rose 0.8 percent on Thursday.
Ric Spooner, market strategist at CMC Markets, said there
seems to be a pattern of weak performances on the Australian
market despite a strong lead on Wall Street recently.
"One reason I think generally is that the valuations on our
market are higher, we had quite a strong run in our market, and
our market is probably more generously valued than the U.S.
"We're not moving past our previous highs while the U.S.
The Australian market has risen around 8 percent this year,
helped by strong corporate earnings and receding global growth
Defensive stocks were mostly firmer. Consumer staples
Woolworths Ltd and rival Wesfarmers climbed
0.8 percent and 0.4 percent respectively. Telecommunications
giant Telstra Ltd inched up 0.1 percent.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index added 0.4
percent or 16.5 points to 4,426.1.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE
* Woodside Petroleum Ltd soared 3.6 percent to
A$36.55 after it shelved plans for the $40 billion Browse
liquefied natural gas project in Western Australia, saying the
massive onshore development did not make economic sense.
* Santos Ltd jumped 1.2 percent to A$12.74 after
the company announced its chairman Peter Coates will retire at
its annual general meeting on May 9.
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)