Outlook: Aus shares to eye earnings

Market Reports

Despite positive offshore leads the SPI is pointing to a soft start for the Australian share market as the local reporting season starts to warm up. At the end of last week US stocks rose to near all time highs buoyed by better than expected earnings, European markets lifted as EU leaders made progress on a budget deal and China kicked-off New Year celebrations. 
 
US economic news

The Department of Commerce reported America’s trade deficit narrowed more than expected to $US38.5 billion in December 2012. 
 
The Commerce Department also posted a 0.1 per cent fall in wholesale inventories for December, defying expectations for a rise. 
 
Figures

Wall Street rose at the end of last week with the S&P and Nasdaq posting the sixth straight weekly gain: On Friday the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 49 points to close at 13,993, the S&P500 added 9 points to close at 1,518 and the Nasdaq added 29 points to close at 3,194.

European markets closed higher at the end of last week: London’s FTSE added 36 points, Paris added 49 points and Frankfurt added 61 points.

Asian markets ended mixed at the end of last week: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 38 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 204 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 14 points.
 
The Australian share market gained over last week, surging to a 22-month high: The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 36 points on Friday, extending the weekly gain of 93 to finish at 4,971. On the futures market the SPI is 9 points lower. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:30AM was buying $US1.031 cents, 65.35 Pence Sterling, 95.71 Yen and 77.28 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Housing finance figures for December
 
Company news

Cochlear Limited’s (ASX:COH) CEO Chris Roberts has shrugged off potential mergers and acquisitions, claiming the bionic ear manufacturer’s main growth strategy will be through innovation. Speaking to ABC TV Dr Roberts also told the program Cochlear sees China as a huge potential market with a growing a middle class with aspirations of having good healthcare. Cochlear posted a first half net profit of $77.7 million last week, rebounding from a loss the year before. Shares in Cochlear rose 1.54 per cent on Friday, ending the week at $70.00. 
 
Hutchison Telecommunications Limited (ASX:HTA) Australia business Vodaphone saw its revenue fall 16 per cent in the last quarter of 2012. Accounts released by Vodafone's European-based parent last week revealed the fall came on the back of a Vodaphone Australia losing 64,000 customers in the same period. Hutchison Telecommunications will release its financial results later this month. Shares in Hutchison Telecommunications closed steady on Friday at $0.029. 
 
Ex-dividends today
 
Argo Investments Limited (ASX:ARG) with a 13 cent fully franked dividend
Corum Group Limited (ASX:COO) with a 0.6 cent unfranked dividend
Joyce Corporation Limited (ASX:JYC) with a 0.65 cent unfranked dividend
K2 Asset Management Holdings Limited (ASX:KAM) with a 1 cent fully franked dividend
Reckon Limited (ASX:RKN) with a 4.75 cent dividend, 90 per cent franked
 
Ex-dividends tomorrow
 
Bki Investment Company Limited (ASX:BKI) with a 3.3 cent fully franked dividend
Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX:TAH) with an 11 cent fully franked dividend
 
Commodities

Gold is down $4.40 to $US1,667 an ounce for the April contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.04 to $31.44 for March.
Copper is up $0.02 at $3.76 a pound.
Oil is down $0.11 at US$95.72 a barrel for March light crude in New York.