Outlook: Aus shares brace to retreat

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks to be bracing to retreat after global markets tumbled amid renewed fears for Europe’s sovereign debt situation. European and US stocks pulled back sharply as investors grew concerned over rising borrowing costs in Spain and Italy.
 
Economic news

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted a fall in commodity prices within the next year. Ahead of releasing its World Economic Outlook next week, the IMF has warned, ''The weak global economic outlook suggests that commodity prices are unlikely to increase at the pace of the past decade.'' The IMF adds, “...commodity prices are forecast to decline somewhat during 2012-13. Sizeable downside risks to global growth also pose risks of further downward adjustment.'' Earlier this year the IMF lowered its forecast for global growth from 4 per cent to 3.3 per cent this year.

Figures

US stocks dropped for a fifth straight session on Tuesday, posting the biggest falls this year: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 214 points to close at 12,716, the S&P500 fell 24 points to close at 1,359 and the Nasdaq fell 56 points to close at 2,991.

European markets also back-peddled on Tuesday: London’s FTSE dropped 128 points, Paris dropped 102 points and Frankfurt dropped 169 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed yesterday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 237 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 8 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 20 points.
 
The Australian share market started its trading week 0.6 per cent lower on Tuesday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed shed 28 points yesterday to finish at 4,292. On the futures market the SPI is now 55 points down.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:15AM was buying $US1.0254 cents, 64.66 Pence Sterling, 82.74 Yen and 78.4 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Housing finance data for February

Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and the Melbourne Institute: Survey of Consumer Sentiment for April

Company news

Shares in Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) closed steady on Tuesday at $3.12. Property investment company Charter Hall Retail will pay $35 million to acquire a 50 per cent stake the Wanneroo Central Shopping Centre in Western Australia. The purchase is expected to be finalised by the end of this month and to be immediately accretive to earnings. In the first half of the 2012 financial year Charter Hall Retail posted a net profit of $4.3 million.

Shares in Molopo Energy Limited (ASX:MPO) closed steady on Tuesday at $0.65. Junior oil and gas explorer Molopo Energy has acquired its partner’s 22 per cent stake in the Fiesta project in West Texas for $US9 million. The purchase is expected to be finalised next week and will give Molopo full interest in the project. In the first half of the 2012 financial year Molopo Energy booked a net loss of $6.3 million. 

Ex-dividends today

New Hope Corporation Limited (ASX:NHC)
TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM)
WAM Active Limited (ASX:WAA)

Ex-dividends this week

CTI Logistics Limited (ASX:CLX) 
Washington H. Soul Pattinson and Co. Limited (ASX:SOL).

Commodities

Gold is up $16.80 to $US1,661 an ounce for the June contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.155 to $31.68 for May.
Copper is down $0.07 at $3.65 a pound.
Oil is down $1.44 at $101.02 a barrel for May light crude in New York.