Outlook: Aus shares set to firm after oil pullback

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks to be for firmer start to the day after US stocks ended broadly higher, boosted by the financial sector. Oil prices eased from recent two and a half year highs amid reports that Libya’s leader could be preparing to step down. 

On Tuesday Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 124 points to close at 12,214, the S&P500 rose 12 points to close 1,322 and the NASDAQ gained 20 point to close 2,766.

European stocks closed higher: London’s FTSE up almost 1 point, Paris up 26 and Frankfurt up 3.

To Asian markets and stocks were higher: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 399, Tokyo Nikkei was up 20 and China’s Shanghai Composite was up 4 points.
 
The Australian share market closed steady on Tuesday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index lifted 10 points to close at 4,808. On the futures market the SPI is currently 7 points higher.
 
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:35AM was buying $US1.001 cents, 62.5 Pence Sterling, 83.53 Yen and 72.66 Euro cents.

Economic news due out today: The Australian Bureau of Statistics housing finance for January and, Westpac/Melbourne survey of consumer sentiment.

Company news: On Tuesday shares in Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) added 0.44 per cent to close at $27.11. Woolworths' CEO Michael Luscombe has signalled a positive earnings outlook for the company’s discount chain Big W, according to The Australian. Speaking at a conference in London, Mr Luscombe said Big W was well positioned for an improved second half, underpinned by positive revenue growth at the beginning of this year. The paper says Woolworths' core supermarkets division drove the company’s interim net profit by 6 per cent to $1.2 billion, but sagging results from Big W and consumer electronics resulted in the company’s slowest rate of growth since 1999. Woolworths posted a net profit of $1.2 billion in the 2010 financial year.

Yesterday shares in Cape Lambert Resources Ltd (ASX:CFE) rose 1.72 per cent to close at $0.59. Cape Lambert has moved closer to settling its $30 million sale of its 25 per cent interest in the Lady Loretta copper project to Swiss mining giant Xstrata. The resources and investment company has announced that it has now signed a formal agreement with Xtsrata’s wholly owned subsidiary, Noranda Pacific Pty Ltd. Settlement is due within 30 days and Cape Lambert says it does not envisage any delays as the remaining 75 per cent interest in Lady Loretta is owned by Xstrata.
In the 2010 financial year Cape Lambert Resources booked a net profit of $72.25 million.

Ex-dividends: And 13 companies are going ex-dividend today. Among them we have FlexiGroup with a $0.05 fully franked dividend, Little World Beverages with a $0.05 fully franked dividend, Salmat with a $0.12 fully franked dividend and Transfield Services with a $0.05 fully franked dividend. Among those coming up tomorrow is Cash Converters International.
 
Commodities: Gold is down $7.30 to $US1,427 an ounce for the April contract on Comex, silver is down $0.21 to $35.66 for May and copper is up $0.01 at $4.34 a pound. Oil is down $0.42 at $105.02 a barrel for April light crude in New York.