The Australian share market looks tipped for a higher start to the day after global markets gained overnight. US investors overlooked lacklustre economic news and concentrated on encouraging comments from the Federal Reserve. At home the Australian dollar has continued to rise after yesterday's better than expected jobs figures. While no local economic news is scheduled investors will be awaiting Chinese first quarter growth figures due later today.
US economic news
Initial jobless claims increased more than expected last week. According to The Labor Department claims increased to 380,000 last week, up 13,000 from the week before. A separate report from the Labor Department showed US wholesale prices were unchanged in March.
Wall Street rose for the second consecutive day on Thursday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 181 points to close at 12,987, the S&P500 added 19 points to close at 1,388 and the Nasdaq added 39 points to close at 3,056.
European markets gained on Thursday: London’s FTSE added 76 points, Paris added 32 points and Frankfurt added 69 points.
Asian markets also rose on Thursday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 187 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 66 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 42 points.
The Australian share market snapped four days of losses on Thursday to end 0.8 per cent higher: The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 35 points to finish at 4,281. On the futures market the SPI is 27 points higher.
The Australian Dollar at 7:15AM was buying $US1.0441 cents, 65.43 Pence Sterling, 84.48 Yen and 79.19 Euro cents.
Shares in Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) rose 1.26 per cent on Thursday, closing at $8.79. Crown’s executive chairman, James Packer, has reportedly paid $133 million to boost his interest in the casino operator by 2 per cent to 48 per cent. Media reports claim Mr Packer is be behind the purchase of 15.25 million shares that crossed at the daily volume weighted average price of $8.71 after the market closed yesterday.Mr Packer last upped his stake at the end of last year and reports have suggested he is aiming to acquire more than 50 per cent control by the end of this year. In the first half of the 2012 financial year Crown reported a net profit of $274 million.
Shares in Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) firmed 0.9 per cent on Thursday, closing at $4.46. Speculation has surfaced that casino operator Genting Singapore could be sizing up Echo Entertainment as a takeover target. The Wall Street Journal says Echo is widely viewed as a sitting duck following its split from Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX:TAH) last year and Genting Singapore could be a likely bidder, having already raised more than $1.7 billion this year. Rival gaming company Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) became a substantial shareholder in Echo last month and has also been tipped to be eyeing an Echo takeover. In the first half of its 2012 financial year Echo reported a net profit of $70.2 million.
Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Limited (ASX:SOL)
Ex-dividends next week
Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW)
Countplus Limited (ASX:CUP)
F.F.I. Holdings Limited (ASX:FFI)
Gold is up $20.30 to $US1,680 an ounce for the June contract on Comex.
Silver is up $1.00 to $32.52 for May.
Copper is up $0.08 at $3.72 a pound.
Oil is up $0.94 at $103.64 a barrel for May light crude in New York.