Australian stocks have fallen, as investors continue to take a cautious approach in the lead-up to the Greek elections.

At 1200 AEST on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 14.4 points, or 0.35 per cent, at 4,058.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 13.4 points, or 0.33 per cent, at 4,104.9.

On the ASX 24, the June share price index futures contract was down 24 points at 4,060 with 20,379 contracts traded.

RBS Morgans Brisbane private client adviser Craig Walker said investors were remaining cautious until the results of Sunday’s elections in Greece.

‘‘I think people are taking a wait-and-see approach,’’ he said.

‘‘I think the Greek elections on Sunday are the next big catalyst and investors are waiting until news of that comes through before they do anything.’’

US stocks bounced back overnight, reversing the previous day’s losses and  shrugging off the spectre of more turmoil in Europe.

At the close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 162.57 points (1.31 per cent) to 12,573.80.

Almost all major European stock markets closed higher after mixed trading, while the euro was steady as enthusiasm over a massive Spanish bank bailout faded.

In local economic news on Wednesday, the Westpac/Melbourne Institute Survey of Consumer Sentiment was up 0.3 per cent at 95.6 index points for June.

Meanwhile, Whitehaven Coal shares soared after the miner said billionaire Nathan Tinkler had made a privatisation offer.

At 1226 AEST, Whitehaven shares were 21 cents, or five per cent, higher at $4.20.

Investment firm Macquarie Group also announced it had bought a five per cent stake in casinos operator Echo Entertainment Group. Shares in Echo last traded at $4.49 before going into a halt.

The mining giants were mixed at noon. BHP Billiton was up 10 cents to $31.82, Rio Tinto was down 46 cents to $54.19 and Fortescue Metals was up five cents to $4.60.

The four major banks were also mixed. ANZ was down 20 cents to $21.57, National Australia Bank was seven cents lower at $22.15 and Commonwealth Bank was 27 cents lower at $50.55. However, Westpac was 3.5 cents higher at $20.60

National turnover was 678 million securities, worth $1.280 billion, with 333 up, 417 down and 327 unchanged.

What you need to know


Spanish borrowing costs jumped to the most in the history of the euro as European government bonds slumped on concern policy makers aren’t doing enough to prevent the currency bloc’s financial woes from deepening. The yield on Italian 10-year securities jumped to the most since January as the country prepared to sell bonds on June 14.

  • Spain’s 10-year yield rose 20 basis points, or 0.2 percentage point, to 6.71%, after reaching 6.83%, the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999
  • Italian 10-year securities dropped for a fifth day. The yield increased 14 basis points to 6.17%
  • German bunds declined, with the 10-year yield rising 12 basis points to 1.42%

Treasuries fell as the US sold $US32 billion of three-year notes and traders speculated that Federal Reserve officials may add to stimulus to keep the economic recovery from faltering.

  • US 10-year note rose eight basis points to 1.66%

United States

US stocks advanced, rebounding from yesterday's decline, amid speculation the Federal Reserve will take steps to stimulate the economy and after the European Central Bank endorsed a plan to guarantee bank deposits.

Key numbers:

  • S&P 500 added 1.2% to 1324.18
  • Dow Jones Indus Avg added 1.3% to 12573.80
  • Nasdaq composite added 1.19% to 2843.07


European stocks rose for the first time in three days on speculation that the Federal Reserve will opt for more stimulus, outweighing a surge in Spanish borrowing costs to a euro-era record.

Key numbers:

  • London’s FTSE 100 added 0.76% to 5473.74
  • In Frankfurt the DAX 30 added 0.33% at 6161.24
  • In Paris the CAC 40 added 0.14% to 3046.91


Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index retreating from a two week high, as surging Spanish bond yields stoked concern that a bailout for the nation’s banks won’t tame the European debt crisis.

Key numbers:

  • MSCI Asia Pacific Index lost 0.5% to 112.9
  • Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 1.02% to 8536.72
  • Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.43% to 18872.56
  • China’s Shanghai composite lost 0.7% to 2289.79



Oil prices closed mixed amid rising speculation over OPEC’s likely action on production quotas when it meets in Vienna this week.

  • New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in July, which hit an eight-month low of $US81.07 a barrel in earlier Asian trading, on Tuesday settled at $US83.32 a barrel, up 62 US cents from Monday’s closing level
  • In London trade, Brent North Sea crude for July however shed 86 US cents to stand at $US97.14 a barrel  

Precious metals

Gold held above $US1,600 an ounce, as a weaker US dollar and talk of further monetary easing drew investors seeking safety into the gold market.

The most actively traded contract, for August delivery, gained 1.1 per cent, or $US17, to settle at $US1,613.80 per troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

  • Comex silver for July delivery climbing 1.2 per cent, or 33.3 US cents, to $US28.949 a troy ounce
  • Nymex platinum for July delivery gaining 0.4 per cent, or $US5.10, to end at $US1,454.40 a troy ounce.
  • Nymex palladium for September delivery, however, slipped 0.1 per cent, or 90 US cents, to settle at $US624.25 a troy ounce

Base metals

Base metals closed mostly lower on the London Metal Exchange (LME), as dovish comments by the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank president failed to distract from persistent concerns over the situation in the euro zone.

  • At the PM kerb close on Tuesday, LME three-month copper was 0.3 per cent lower at $US7,395 a metric ton
  • Aluminum closed at $US1,967.50/ton, down 0.2 per cent on the day

How we fared yesterday

Australian shares eked out a small gain today, as a firmer banking sector helped offset weaker resource stocks weighed down by a slide in oil and copper prices.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 9.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4072.9, while the broader All Ords gained 7.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4118.4.

BusinessDay with agencies