Outlook: ASX eyes positive start

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks to be eyeing a positive start to the session after Wall Street lifted on hopes the US government will renegotiate the budget in order to avert the year end fiscal cliff budget deadline. Investors were encouraged by comments from US President Obama and the Speaker of the House, affirming their commitment to reaching an agreement in order to avoid the automatic tax hikes and spending cuts which threaten to trigger a recession. 
 
US economic news

The US Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development has reported new home sales fell 0.3 per cent in October from the month before but were 17 per cent higher from October last year. 
 
Figures

Wall Street rose on Wednesday The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 107 points to close at 12,985, the S&P500 added 11 points to close at 1,410 and the Nasdaq added 24 points to close at 2,992.
 
European markets also closed higher yesterday: London’s FTSE added 4 points, Paris added 13 points and Frankfurt added 11 points.
 
Asian markets ended in negative territory yesterday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 135 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 115 and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 18 points.
 
The Australian share mark traded in the red yesterday, closing 0.2 per cent down: The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 10 points on Wednesday to close at 4,447. On the futures market the SPI is 18 points higher. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:25AM was buying $US1.047 cents, 65.47 Pence Sterling, 85.92 Yen and 80.99 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today

The Australian Bureau of Statistics: Private new capital expenditure and expected expenditure data for the June quarter

Housing Industry Association: New home sales figures for October 
 
Company news

Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) has denied the wine maker is considering spinning off its $3.1 billion Penfolds brand. CEO David Dearie told News Corporation the company continues to be questioned about the future of Penfolds but does not believe a demerger is an option. The report comes after analysts said earlier this week the Penfolds brand is at risk of stagnating if it remains within Treasury Wine Estates, but could unlock earnings potential as a separate entity. Shares in Treasury Wine Estates dipped 1.55 per cent on Wednesday to finish at $5.08. 
 
Australia's largest animal feed group Ridley Corporation Limited (ASX:RIC) has reportedly sold its Cheetham salt business for up to $150 million to Hong Kong’s CK Life Sciences. According to Fairfax Media the proceeds will likely to put to paying down about $60 million of debt and could position Ridley as a takeover target.  The deal is expected to be announced today as no formal announcement has yet been issued to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Shares in Ridley Corporation slipped 1.3 per cent on Wednesday to finish at $1.13. 
 
Ex-dividends today
 
ALS Limited (ASX:ALQ) with a 21 cent dividend, 50 per cent franked
 
Commodities

Gold is down $25.80 to $US1,716 an ounce for the December contract on Comex.
Silver is down $0.30 to $33.68 for December.
Copper is down $0.01 at $3.53 a pound.
Oil is down $0.69 at $US86.49 a barrel for January light crude in New York.