Outlook: Aus shares set to open flat on EU woes

Market Reports

The Australian share market is set to open flat, with news just in that eurozone finance ministers are refusing to give immediate backing to a second bailout for Greece, that’s despite a last-minute deal in Athens.

European economic news

Leaders in Greece had reached a tentative agreement on reforms and austerity measures needed to release a $160 billion bailout package.

US economic news

Initial claims for jobless benefits dropped 15,000 to 358,000 last week.

And five big US banks accused of abusive mortgage practices have agreed to a $25 billion government settlement.

Figures

Wall Street closed higher on Thursday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 7 points to close at 12,890, the S&P500 gained 2 points to close at 1,352 and the Nasdaq rose 11 points to close at 2,927.

European markets finished higher yesterday: London’s FTSE gained 20 points, Paris rose 15 points and Frankfurt was up 40.

Asian markets closed mixed yesterday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was down 8 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei fell 13 points and China’s Shanghai Composite was up 2.

The Australian share market ended the day lower on Thursday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 8 points to finish at 4,283. On the futures market the SPI is currently 5 points higher.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:30AM was buying $US1.079 cents, 68.21 Pence Sterling, 83.84 Yen and 81.23 Euro cents.

Economic news due out today

The Reserve Bank: Statement on Monetary Policy

Company news

Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) shares fell 0.22 per cent on Thursday, closing at $71.60. Chief executive Tom Albanese and chief financial officer Guy Elliott will give up their bonuses in response to a $US 8.9 billion earnings hit to the miner’s aluminium assets. The impairment taking the sheen off the 11 per cent rise in core earnings, reaching a record $US 15.5 billion for the year to December 31.

Shares in Austock Group Limited (ASX:ACK) closed flat yesterday, finishing at $0.12. Austock has sold the assets of its securities business to Intersuisse, partly owned by Phillip Brokerage based in Singapore. When the transaction is completed Austock Group will be completely debt free and able to pursue other opportunities in the funds management sector. The board will be reconfigured. Austock reported a net profit of $15 million for the year to June 30, 2011.

Ex-dividends

Two companies are going ex-dividend today: Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) with a 3 cent fully franked dividend and Advanced Share Registry Limited (ASX:ASW) with a 1.85 cent fully franked dividend.

Commodities

Gold is up $9.90 to $US1,741 an ounce for the February contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.21 to $33.92 for March.
Copper is up $0.07 at $3.98 a pound.
Oil is up $1.13 at $99.84 a barrel for March light crude in New York.


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