Outlook: Mixed leads suggest soft session

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set for a soft session following mixed offshore leads. As European stocks lifted US stocks dipped after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke expressed caution over the imminent US fiscal cliff, shares in Hewlett-Packard sank after the US technology company posted a loss and Europe’s debt concerns swung back into the spotlight as ratings agency Moody's downgraded France's credit rating. 
US economic news

The Census Bureau has shown housing starts hit a four year high last month, rising 3.6 per cent in October while housing permits dipped 2.7 per cent in the same month. 

On Tuesday Wall Street pulled back from a strong start to a holiday shortened week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 7 points to close at 12,789, the S&P500 added 1 point to close at 1,388 and the Nasdaq added 1 point to close at 2,917.
European markets lifted on Tuesday: London’s FTSE added 10 points, Paris added 22 points and Frankfurt added 49 points.
Asian markets finished lower on Tuesday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 34 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 11 and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 8 points.
The Australian share mark gained 0.6 per cent yesterday after the release of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s latest board meeting minutes: The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 24 points to end the session at 4,386. On the futures market the SPI is 2 points higher. 

The Australian Dollar at 8:20AM was buying $US1.038 cents, 65.26 Pence Sterling, 84.87 Yen and 81.08 Euro cents.
Economic news due out today

Melbourne Institute: Leading Indexes of Economic Activity

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)-Housing Industry Association: House affordability for the September quarter

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations: Internet skilled vacancies data
Company news

Navitas Limited (ASX:NVT) has revealed an improvement in its University programs enrolments. The education services provider says it has noted a trend of steady growth in Australian new student recruitment, lifting student numbers from recent historic lows. The upbeat news comes after Navitas reported its first annual profit fall in fiscal 2012 since listing in 2004. Shares in Navitas jumped 6.83 per cent on Tuesday to finish at $4.38. 
The owner of Radio Rentals, Thorn Group Limited (ASX:TGA), has warned challenging market conditions have impacted its growth rate and will continue to over the full financial year. The rental and credit management company’s first half profit dipped 2 per cent to $14 million, impacted by the expansion of its financial services businesses. Thorn Group says its Radio Rentals and Rentlo core business was again a significant contributor and is performing well. Shares in Thorn Group dropped 10.1 per cent on Tuesday to finish at $1.78. 

Gold is down $10.80 to $US1,723 an ounce for the December contract on Comex.
Silver is down $0.25 to $32.93 for December.
Copper is up $0.01 at $3.53 a pound.
Oil is down $2.53 at $US86.75 a barrel for January light crude in New York.

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