Outlook: Aus shares receive mixed leads

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set to open lower this morning, receiving weak leads from offshore trading overnight. Better than expected US economic growth was not enough to buoy investor confidence, with worries about rising unrest in Egypt and the flow on effects throughout the Middle East taking their toll on the markets.

US economic news: The number of US workers filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell 42,000 to 415,000 for the week ending January 29th. And The Institute for Supply Management's index of national non-manufacturing activity rose to 59.4 last month, its highest level since August 2005. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in the service sector.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, closed 20 points higher to 12,062, S&P500 gained 3 points to close 1,307 and the NASDAQ up 4 points to close 2,754.

European stocks were mixed: London’s FTSE down 17 points, Paris also fell 30 and Frankfurt gained 10 points.

To Asian markets, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng and China’s Shanghai Composite were both closed for Chinese New Year. Tokyo was down 26 points. The Australian share market finished higher on Thursday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index lifted 24 points to close at 4,821 and on the futures market the SPI is up 13 points. Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:25AM was buying $US1.0155, 62.92 Pence Sterling, 82.89 Yen and 74.49 Euro cents.

Company news: On Thursday shares in Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) rose 7.59 per cent to close at $6.66. The copper miner says it has increased the scope of studies for its mine expansion in Zambia. The company said it was looking at expanding the region’s ore throughput rate to 45 million tonnes per annum. The first stage feasibility study is due to be completed in the second quarter of this year. Equinox is also listed on the Toronto stock exchange. Equinox Minerals booked a $124.33 million profit in the 2010 financial year.

Yesterday shares in Alligator Energy Ltd (ASX:AGE) closed up 2.5 cents, or 12.5 per cent higher at $0.225. It was a positive debut on the Australian stock exchange for the uranium explorer. The initial public offer of 75 million shares at a price of 20 cents raised $15 million and was oversubscribed. Its main project is Tin Camp Creek in the Northern Territory. The company expects to spend at least $4 million on exploration there for each of the next two years.

To ex-dividends: The Australian Foundation Investment Company is going ex-dividend today, with an $0.08 cent fully franked dividend.

To commodities: Gold is up $20.90 to $US1,353 an ounce for the April contract on Comex, silver is up $0.44 to $28.73 for March and copper is steady at $4.54 a pound. Oil is down $0.32 at $90.54 a barrel for March light crude in New York.

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