Aus shares to open lower; all eyes on BHP

Market Reports

by David Chau

The Australian share market will open lower this morning according to ASX futures. On Monday, Wall Street was closed for the Presidents’ Day public holiday.

Once again, investor sentiment will likely be driven by the Australian companies releasing their financial results today (particulary mining giant BHP), and how well they perform.

Markets

Yesterday, European markets closed mixed : London’s FTSE (as well as Paris) were both flat, and Frankfurt gained 0.6 per cent.

Asian markets closed higher: the Nikkei gained 0.1 per cent, the Hang Seng rose 0.5 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite soared 1.2 per cent.

The Australian share market finished lower on Monday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 11 points to finish at 5,795.  On the futures market this morning, the SPI is down 8 points.

Local economic news

The Reserve Bank of Australia will release its monetary policy meeting minutes for February, explaining why it maintained the official cash rate at the record low 1.5%.

Company news

Southern Cross Media Group Ltd (ASX:SXL) has released a statement confirming that it has pulled out of negotiations with the WIN Corporation. Southern Cross was in talks to sell its northern NSW TV assets and operations to WIN, and acquire WIN’s i98FM Wollongong radio station. Southern Cross did not provide reasons as to why it pulled out. Yesterday, shares in Southern Cross Media closed 2.21% lower at $1.39.

Reporting season

Several companies are reporting their results today. They include: BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP), Caltex (ASX:CTX), Flexigroup (ASX:FXL), Growthpoint Properties (ASX:GOZ), Monadelphous (ASX:MND), Independece Group (ASX:IGO), Scentre Group (ASX:SCG), SEEK (ASX:SEK) and St Barbara (ASX:SBM).

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:30AM was buying $US76.86 cents, 61.67 Pence Sterling, 86.96 Yen and 72.43 Euro cents.

Commodities

Gold has dropped $0.60 to $US1,239 an ounce.
Silver has gained $0.02 to $18.13 an ounce.
Light crude is up $0.21 to $US53.99 a barrel.

 Ex-dividends