Outlook: SPI points to soft start for ASX

Market Reports

The SPI is pointing to a soft start for the Australian share market after Wall Street ended almost where it started though still reaching records. While traders remained cautious ahead of the release of the US Federal Reserve’s meeting minutes the Dow ended at a record for the second straight day. US markets absorbed better than expected housing starts data, offset by a stronger US dollar and disappointing earnings from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (NYSE:WMT). Across commodity markets prices are lower with the iron ore price continuing to slide under $US59 per tonne. 
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street ended mixed on Tuesday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.1 per cent to close at 18,312, the S&P 500 slipped 0.1 per cent to close at 2,128 and the Nasdaq eased 0.2 per cent to close at 5,070.
 
European markets gained ground on Tuesday: London's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 per cent, France's CAC 40 advanced 2.1 per cent and Germany's DAX climbed 2.2 per cent.
 
Asian markets moved higher on Tuesday: Japan’s Nikkei increased 0.7 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lifted 0.4 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite jumped 3.1 per cent.
 
The Australian share market ended a choppy day of trade 0.8 per cent lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 44 points to close at 5,616. On the futures market the SPI is 2 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 7:30am was buying $US0.7918, 51.06 Pence Sterling, 95.56 Yen and 71.04 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC): Consumer sentiment index
 
Company news
 
Vocation Limited (ASX:VET) has entered into an agreement to sell OzSoft Solutions Pty Ltd for an enterprise value of $4.5 million. The troubled education provider describes the asset as a non-core business and expects to tie up the transaction before the end of the month. Given the sale Vocation plans to reveal its revised financial guidance later this month. Shares in Vocation rose 3.45 per cent to close at $0.15 ahead of the announcement. 
 
Shares in Fleetwood Corporation Limited (ASX:FWD) gained after inking an exclusive supply deal with Gateway Lifestyle. The company will become the exclusive manufacturer and supplier of homes to Gateway manufactured housing estates in Queensland and northern New South Wales. The deal has an initial term of two years with an option for Gateway to extend the term for a further two years. Shares in Fleetwood Corporation gained 6.69 per cent to close at $1.36 following the announcement. 
 
Ex-dividends 
 
PTB Group Limited (ASX:PTB) paying a 5 cent fully franked dividend
Z Energy Limited (ASX:ZNZ) paying a 15.49 cent unfranked dividend 
 
Commodities 

Gold has dropped $20.90 to $US1,207 an ounce for the June contract on Comex. 
Silver has fallen $0.66 to $17.07 for July. 
Copper has lost $0.07 to $2.84 a pound. 
Oil has retreated $2.17 to $US57.26 a barrel for June light crude in New York.