Outlook: ASX looks up before China GDP

Market Reports

The Australian share market is set for a slightly higher start today ahead of China’s March quarter growth figures. Overnight US stocks lifted from the lows of the session amid a batch of earnings and economic data. American retail sales were shown to have grown last month as producer prices gained for the first time since October. 
 
The International Monetary Fund forecast the global economy will expand by 3.5 per cent and predicted China’s economy will grow by 6.8 per cent this year. Closer to home the Australian dollar is back above $US0.76 and the price of iron ore has lifted above $US50 per tonne. 
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street ended mixed on Tuesday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3 per cent to close at 18,037, the S&P 500 firmed 0.2 per cent to close at 2,096 and the Nasdaq slipped 0.2 per cent to close at 4,977.
 
European markets finished mixed on Tuesday: London's FTSE 100 added 0.2 per cent, France's CAC 40 dipped 0.7 per cent and Germany's DAX dropped 0.9 per cent.
 
Asian markets put in a mixed performance yesterday: Japan’s Nikkei put on 0.02 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 1.6 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.3 per cent.
 
The Australian share market traded in the red and ended 0.2 per cent lower on Tuesday: The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 14 points lower at 5,947. On the futures market the SPI is 11 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 7:30am was buying $US0.7627, 51.61 Pence Sterling, 91.07 Yen and 71.59 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Westpac Banking Group (ASX:WBC)-Melbourne Institute: Survey of Consumer Sentiment
 
Company news
 
AP Eagers Limited (ASX:APE) has boosted its financial guidance and expects to report a record result for the first half of this year. The automotive retail group has forecast an interim underlying profit before tax of between $54 million to $58 million, rising from $46 million the year before. AP Eagers has partly attributed strong trading activity in South East Queensland and New South Wales for the anticipated result. Shares in AP Eagers rose 5.33 per cent to close at $8.30 on Tuesday, following the announcement.  
 
Maca Limited (ASX:MLD) has confirmed its annual net profit and revenue guidance after one of its clients decided to suspend mining operations at the Bluehills project. Sinosteel Midwest Corporation has terminated its contract with the mining and civil construction group which was generating about $3.5 million in revenue per month. The move will lower Maca’s work in hand position by about $30 million. Shares in Maca fell 3.57 per cent to close at $0.81 on Tuesday, following the announcement.
 
Ex-dividends

Hunter Hall Global (ASX:HHV) paying a 4 cent, 18 per cent franked dividend
Rural Funds Group (ASX:RFF) paying a 2.14 cent unfranked dividend
 
Commodities 

Gold has declined $6.70 to $US1,193 an ounce for the June contract on Comex. 
Silver has dipped $0.13 to $16.16 for May.
Copper has lost $0.02 to $2.70 a pound. 
Oil has risen $1.38 to $US53.29 a barrel for May light crude in New York.