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Local Shares In The Black, Aussie Falls

Australian shares appear to be snapping a seven-day losing streak, led by the big banks. A weak lead from Wall Street prompted the local market to open weaker today, but the major players soon moved into positive territory. Australian Stock Report senior equity analyst Benny Sada says they had a negative open on the back of weak offshore leads, but there’s been a bit of a turnaround and that’s been led by the big banks. Of the major banks, Westpac added 13 cents to $30.95, NAB put on 19 cents to $33.23, Commonwealth Bank rose 55 cents to $74.06 but ANZ was down three cents to $30.32
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What's on today In economic news today, the Bureau of Statistics releases October lending finance data, while in equities news, Westpac has its annual general meeting scheduled. Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens continues to talk the dollar down saying in an interview with The Australian Financial Review, that with the falling terms of trade, he expects the Aussie's natural level to be lower than its current rate. "I thought 85 [US] cents would be closer to the mark than 95 [US]  cents . . .but really, I don't think we can be that precise. "I just think that if things over the medium term evolve as we're presently assuming – and I think it's reasonable to make these assumptions – it's going to be surprising if a nine at the front is the right number." Stocks to watch Patersons said the regulatory green light for Westpac's acquisition of the $8.4 billion loan portfolio from Lloyds Banking Group Australia adds to the bank's core strengths, "providing us with even more confidence in future earnings and dividend growth". Deutsche Bank has a "buy" recommendation on BHP Billiton with a target price of $45.10 after management outlined a revamped petroleum strategy. Currencies The Australian dollar is trading at 89.24 US cents at 11.00am AEST, down from Thursday's local close of 90.31 US cents. It had closed at 91.31 US cents on Wednesday. The US dollar firmed across the board, helped by an upbeat retail sales report that suggested the recovery of the world's largest economy is on a stable footing. In midday trading, the dollar index rose 0.3 per cent to 80.164, rebounding after three days of losses. Commodities A surplus in the global market for refined copper will widen by more than 60 per cent in 2014 as new mine supply outstrips reviving demand, the International Copper Study Group says. The surplus is forecast to rise to 632,000 tonnes from 387,000 tonnes this year. Three month copper on the LME, untraded at the close, was bid at $US7226 a tonne. Earlier in the day the red metal hit its highest since November 4. Brend crude oil fell $US1.03 to $US108.67 a barrel. US crude futures for January delivery were up 19 cents at $US97.63 a barrel. United States Stocks appear headed for a third day of losses amid uncertainty over how soon the Federal Reserve will trim its market-friendly stimulus program. While retail sales for November were strong, initial claims for jobless benefits last week posted their biggest jump in a year. "We may be in a little bit of a correction here," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Asset Management in Bedford Hills in New York. Shares of Facebook were in the spotlight after the social media giant joined the S&P 500. The stock was up 3.8 per cent. Lululemon Athletica shares fell more than 10 per cent after the company said it expects flat same-store sales in the crucial fourth quarter. Europe In Europe, stocks have slid after data showed that industrial output unexpectedly dropped in October, the latest sign that the euro zone's economy remains fragile. London's FTSE 100 closed down 0.96 per cent, Frankfurt's DAX fell 0.66 per cent and the CAC 40 in Paris shed 0.43 per cent. Britain's top share index looks set to to reach an all-time high of 7100 by end-2014 - some 9 per cent up on Wednesday's close of 6507 - according to the median in a survey of over 60 traders, analysts and fund managers conducted in the past week by Reuters. The index is up around 10 per cent so far this year. What happened yesterday On Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 41.8 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 5062.5. Bluechip stocks, such as Commonwealth Bank of Australia, BHP Billiton and Telstra – which have benefited from an influx of offshore capital over the past few years – led the losses