The Australian share market looks poised for a lower start to the day following soft offshore leads. US markets pulled back ahead of the key US monthly jobs report due this evening, while European markets closed mixed after the European Central Bank kept rates unchanged but appeared to suggest a future cut.
US economic news
A positive report on jobless claims was offset by a lower than expected read on the US services sector:
The Labor Department reported a bigger than expected fall in weekly jobless claims, boosting optimism head of the US government’s April jobs report. Approximately 365,000 people filed weekly jobless claims last week, down from 392,000 the week before.
The Institute of Supply Management's Service index revealed America’s service sector expanded last month at the slowest rate this year. The index fell to 53.5 in April, from 56 the month before.
Wall Street retreated on Thursday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 62 points to close at 13,207, the S&P500 lost 11 points to close at 1,392 and the Nasdaq lost 36 points to close at 3,024.
European markets finished mixed on Thursday: London’s FTSE added 8 points, Paris lost 3 points and Frankfurt lost 16 points.
Asian markets closed mixed yesterday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 60 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 29 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 2 points.
The Australian share market closed in the red yesterday. The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 7 points to finish at 4,429. On the futures market the SPI is now 12 points lower.
The Australian Dollar at 7:15AM was buying $US1.027 cents, 63.49 Pence Sterling, 82.34 Yen and 78.1 Euro cents.
Economic news due out today
Reserve Bank of Australia: Statement on monetary policy
The latest unaudited and preliminary sales figures from Harvey Norman Holdings Limited (ASX:HVN) have shown a sharp fall in sales in the first three months of this year. Pre-tax profit slumped 44 per cent in the March quarter and 25 per cent over the first nine months of the current financial year. CEO Gerry Harvey says the electrical retailer’s sales were impacted by aggressive competitor activity in the audio/video and information technology sector. Shares in Harvey Norman Holdings fell 1.45 per cent yesterday, closing at $2.04.
Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX:TAH) says its revenue rose 2.7 per cent in the March quarter, taking revenue for the year 2.8 per cent higher at $2.3 billion. The gambling giant says the positive trends experienced in the first half of the 2012 financial year continued into the third quarter. Tabcorp's largest division, wagering, posted 4.5 per cent revenue growth in the first three months of this year. Shares in Tabcorp Holdings rose 1.75 per cent yesterday, closing at $2.90.
Australian Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (ASX:API)
Ex-dividends next week
GPT Group (ASX:GPT)
Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG)
Koon Holdings Limited (ASX:KNH)
Gold is down $19.20 to $US1,635 an ounce for the June contract on Comex.
Silver is down $0.635 to $30.07 for July.
Copper is down $0.05 at $3.74 a pound.
Oil is down $2.68 at $102.54 a barrel for June light crude in New York.