Outlook: Aus shares set for slightly positive open

Market Reports

 
Following slight gains in US markets reacting to comments from the US Federal Reserve, the Australian share market looks set to open higher this morning. US stocks were supported through some choppy trade by merger activity in the healthcare sector.
 

US Economic news

Minutes of the Federal Reserve’s March meeting reveal the US central bank is concerned at subdued consumer spending and lackluster wage growth. The disappointing March jobs report is also pointing towards signs the economy is losing steam.  The strength of the US dollar is adding to speculation the Fed may hold back on increasing interest rates until at least September. 
 
Markets

Wall Street closed up yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.2 per cent to close at 17,903, the S&P 500 added 0.3 per cent to close at 2,082 and the NASDAQ advanced 0.8 per cent to close at 4,951.
 
European markets closed lower: London’s FTSE shed 0.4 per cent, Paris lost 0.3 per cent and Frankfurt slipped 0.7 per cent.
 
Asian markets closed higher: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 3.8 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.8 per cent.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 35 points up to finish at 5,961. On the futures market the SPI is 4 points up.  
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:30AM was buying 76.87 US cents, 51.72 Pence Sterling, 92.35 Yen and 71.32 Euro cents.
 
Company news
 
Beleaguered transport firm McAleese Limited (ASX:MCS) yesterday announced the retirement of its Heavy Haulage manager Keith Price. Mr Price is stepping down after 27 years with the company and will continue advising the division in a non-executive role for the next 12 months. The company also advised it is undergoing a review of the division with the view of reducing overheads and steamlining costs. Shares in McAleese last traded flat at $0.185 
 
Energy company FAR Limited (ASX:FAR) is delighted to appoint retired Beach Energy managing director Reg Nelson to its board of directors. Mr Nelson has held notable positions within the petroleum and mineral industries including the South Australian state government and was former chairman of the Australia Petroleum Production & Exploration Association. Shares in FAR closed 2.12 per cent higher at $0.096 yesterday.  
 
Ex dividends

Two companies are going ex-dividend today: Aberdeen Leaders Limited (ASX:ALR) will pay 1 cent fully franked and Austbrokers Holdings Limited (ASX:AUB) will pay 12 cents fully franked. 
 
Commodities

Gold has dipped $7.50 to $US1,203 an ounce for the June contract on Comex. Silver has slipped 38 cents to $16.45 for May. Copper has shed 3 cents to $2.73 a pound. Oil has slumped $3.56 to $US50.42 a barrel for May light crude in New York.