Outlook: Aus shares expected to open stronger

Market Reports

After a five-day Easter break and Anzac Day public holiday, the Australian share market is expected to open stronger today. On Tuesday US stocks climbed to three year highs as a stream of positive corporate reports buoyed Wall St. The Australian dollar has also risen, climbing yet again to a new post-float high just nudging 108 US cents. Locally eyes will be on inflations figures for the March quarter, due out this morning.

Looking to the US: In economic news the Conference Board's consumer confidence index increased from 63.8 to 65.4 in April. The rise was higher than expected. The S&P Case-Shiller home price index produced another disappointing read on the US housing market. Home prices fell 3.3 per cent in February, representing the seventh consecutive month of declines.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 115 points stronger at 12,595, the S&P500 added 12 points to close at 1,347 and the NASDAQ gained 22 points to close at 2,848.

European stocks closed higher: London’s FTSE up 51 points, Paris, up 23 and Frankfurt was up 61.

To Asian markets and stocks closed weaker: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 131, Tokyo Nikkei was down 113 and China’s Shanghai Composite was down 26.
The Australian share market closed higher at the end of last week: The S&P/ASX 200 Index added 55 points to close at 4,914. While on the futures market the SPI is currently 21 points higher.
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 7:40AM was buying $1.0789 US cents, 65.47 Pence Sterling, 88.01 Yen and 73.69 Euro cents.

Economic news: Due out today the Australian Bureau of Statistics consumer price index for the March quarter.

Company news: On Thursday shares in Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) eased 0.81 per cent to close at $7.34. Dual listed in both in Australia and Canada, yesterday shares in Equinox jumped over 12 per cent in Toronto after the world's largest gold miner, Canada’s Barrick Gold, launched a $7.1 billion all-cash bid for Equinox. The latest offer trumps a $6.3 billion hostile bid from China’s Minmetals Resources, resulting in the company abandoning its proposed takeover. Equinox claims that Barrick’s bid is, “beyond its most optimistic assessment of value”. Equinox's board has unanimously recommended shareholders accept Barrick’s bid and the company has itself abandoned a $4.8 billion hostile bid for Canada’s Lundin Mining. In the 2010 financial year Equinox Minerals posted a net profit of $265 million.

At the end of last week shares in Foster's Group Ltd (ASX:FGL) firmed 0.69 per cent to close at $5.80. The future of Australia’s largest brewer looks set to be decided this week when the proposed $11 billion demerger of the company's beer and wine divisions is put to a shareholder vote. The proposed split would see the company’s Treasury Wine Estates business become its own separately listed company with Foster’s holding on to the beer, cider and spirits businesses. The two new entities are widely being tipped to be the result of takeover bids within months of the split. Foster’s board have unanimously backed the demerger, which is also expected to win shareholder approval. In the first half of the 2011 financial year, Foster's Group recorded a net profit of $312 million.
Ex-dividends: The two company going ex-dividend today are Dicker Data with a $0.01 cent fully franked dividend and The Trust Company an $0.18 cent fully franked dividend.

Commodities: Gold is down $5.60 to $US1,503 an ounce for the June contract on Comex, silver is down $2.10 to $45.05 for May and copper is up $0.02 at $4.32 a pound. Oil is down $0.07 at $112.21 a barrel for June light crude in New York.

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