Outlook: Aus shares set for a moderate start

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set for a moderate start to the day with the SPI slightly up and following mixed offshore leads. US investors welcomed a positive reading on the housing market but are cautiously awaiting a speech from US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at an annual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole  later this week.
 
US economic news

Some good news for the housing sector, The S&P/ Case-Shiller house price index, which covers more than 80 per cent of the housing market, climbed 6.9 per cent in the three months to June.

The consumer confidence index has flagged in August. The Conference Board has shown a fall to 60.6 from 65.4 in July. Economists say the downturn was driven by concerns for the job market and business conditions over the next six months.
 
Figures 

Wall Street closed mixed yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 22 points to close at 13,103, the S&P500 lost 1 point to close at 1,409 and the Nasdaq gained 4 points to close at 3,077.
 
European markets closed lower: London’s FTSE lost 1 point, Paris was down by 31 and Frankfurt shed 45 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 13 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 52 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 17 points.
 
The Australian share market closed slightly higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 16 points up to finish at 4,359. On the futures market the SPI is 6 points higher.
 
Currencies 

The Australian Dollar at 7:15AM was buying $US1.037, 65.56 Pence Sterling, 81.43 Yen and 82.56 Euro cents.
 
Economic news

Due out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics is construction activity for the June quarter.
 
Company news
 
GrainCorp Limited (ASX:GNC) has agreed to buy two commercial food oils businesses for $472 million. The grains producer will acquire Goodman Fielder Limited’s (ASX:GFF) Integro Foods and Australia's second largest oilseed crusher , the Gardner Smith Group. Graincorp will attempt to raise $159 million via an entitlement offer to assist the funding of the acquisition. Shares in Graincorp closed 0.2 per cent up yesterday at $9.85.  
 
Paintmaker DuluxGroup Limited (ASX:DLX) has threatened to walk away from takeover talks with Alesco Corporation Limited (ASX:ALS) if the target company doesn’t agree to resolve a dispute over the size of dividends. Dulux has given Alesco until 5 pm (AEST) today to agree to take the matter to the Takeovers Panel OR  will otherwise cease discussions on the matter. Shares in DuluxGroup closed 0.3 per cent lower yesterday at $3.27.  
 
Ex-dividends

Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA) 
Blue Sky Alternative Investments Limited (ASX:BLA) 
Carlton Investments Limited (ASX:CIN)
 
Commodities

Gold is down $5.90 to $US1,670 an ounce for the December contract on Comex. Silver is down $0.17 to $30.88 for September. Copper is down $0.01 at $3.46 a pound. Oil is up $0.86 at US$96.33 a barrel for October light crude in New York.