Investors cheer NAB profit, drop in iron ore prices hits mining stocks

It was a lacklustre day of trade on the share market, as investors cheered NAB's latest profit result, but mining and telecommunications stocks lost ground.

The All Ordinaries Index rose by a 0.2 per cent to close at 5,344 and the ASX 200 Index added eight points to finish on 5,279.

Bank stocks rose after NAB reported a half-year loss of $1.7 billion.

The loss was driven by costs associated with unloading its troubled UK operation, Clydesdale Bank.

The bank's cash earnings were up 6.5 per cent.

NAB rose by 2 per cent to $27.84 and ANZ added 1.8 per cent to $25.34.

Mining stocks retreated after a drop in iron ore prices — BHP Billiton slumped another 1.9 per cent to $18.43 and Fortescue Metals fell by 3.2 per cent to $3.03.

Telcos were also sold — Telstra lost 1.1 per cent to $5.56.

But James Packer's gambling company Crown Resorts went the other way, up 4.9 per cent to $12.40 after it sold part of its stake in its Macau-based casino joint venture Melco Crown.

Crown says it plans to use part of the $US800-million proceeds of the sale to cut debt.

Lowe appointed new RBA governor

In economic news, Reserve Bank deputy governor Philip Lowe has been named as the new governor of the central bank.

He will replace current governor Glenn Stevens in September.

A rebound in commodity prices has helped drive a sharp narrowing of Australia's trade deficit.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show the trade deficit narrowed by nearly a third to a seasonally adjusted $2.2 billion in March.

Other figures from the bureau show retail sales rose by a stronger than expected 0.4 per cent in March, seasonally adjusted.

In currencies, and the dollar bounced on those trade and retail figures.

At 6:00pm AEST it was buying 75.1 US cents. It was also fetching 65.3 euro cents, 80.4 Japanese yen and 51.7 British pence.

In commodities, oil prices were higher — Brent crude has gained 1.5 per cent to $US45.28 a barrel.

Spot gold was slightly lower at $US1278 an ounce.

Source: ABC News

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