Outlook: ASX set to follow US weakness

Market Reports

After four straight days of losses, and with US and European markets looking volatile, the local market is set for a difficult start.
 
US markets traded lower for most of the day as earnings results from Citigroup and Bank of America reported lower revenues and profits.
 
European currency markets were rocked overnight by the shock decision by the Swiss National Bank to remove the cap on its currency that kept it from moving above 1.20 francs to the euro. The result was sudden with the Euro quickly losing 25 per cent of its value against the Franc, this then corrected to bring the pair close to parity.
 
The cap had been in place for some three years and its removal comes in anticipation of the European Central Bank announcing quanititative easing later this month. Swiss shares lost value as exporters will be hit by the stronger Swiss franc.
 
Demand for Swiss francs has been growing and the SNB dropped interest rates deeper into negative territory in a bid to cool demand.
 
Global figures 

Wall Street closed lower yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.6 per cent to close at 17,323, the S&P 500 lost 0.9 per cent to close at 1,993 and the NASDAQ lost 1.5 per cent to close at 4,571.
 
European markets closed higher : London’s FTSE is up 1.7 per cent, Paris gained 2.4 per cent and Frankfurt is up 2.2 per cent.
 
Asian markets closed up: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 1.9 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is up 1 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite pushed 3.5 per cent higher.
 
The Australian share market closed lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 22 points down to finish at 5,331. On the futures market the SPI is 22 points down.
 
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:20AM was buying $US0.8226 cents, 54.19 Pence Sterling, 95.65 Yen and 70.8 Euro cents.

Company news
 
Clean TeQ Holdings Limited (ASX:CLQ) has appointed Ben Stockdale as Chief Financial Officer. The air and water treatment company says Mr Stockdale has extensive experience in financial, strategy and commercial roles and that his experience will be central to the company meeting its commercial goals. Shares in Clean Teq closed up 3.45 per cent yesterday at $0.09
 
Sipa Resources Limited (ASX:SRI) has completed its acquisition of SiGe East Africa from Geocrust to hold 100 per cent of the Kitgum Pader project in Uganda. The company’s wholly owned subsidiary Sipa East Africa paid around $453,000 dollars in Sipa shares for the interest with the shares in voluntary escrow for 12 months. The company says the base metals and gold project comprises 15 exploration licences and one application in central northern Uganda. Shares in Sipa closed 11.36 per cent lower yesterday at $0.039.
 
Commodities

Gold is up $24.12 to $US1,259 an ounce for the February contract on Comex.
Silver is down $0.09 to $16.90 for March. Copper is up $0.07 at $2.57 a pound.
Oil is down $2.28 at US$46.68 a barrel for February light crude in New York.