Outlook: Wall St dives, ASX set to retreat

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set to retreat from a positive start to the week after Wall Street erased early gains and extended losses amid uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Italy’s elections. US markets closed more than 1 per cent down as concerns rose over the euro zone’s stability, fueled by polls revealing increasing support for former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

On the local front the earnings reports will continue to roll in from companies including QBE Insurance Group Limited (ASX:QBE), Transfield Services Limited (ASX:TSE), Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH), Virgin Australia Holdings Limited (ASX:VAH) and Whitehaven Coal Limited (WHC).
 
Figures

Wall Street started the trading week lower: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 216 points to close at 13,784, the S&P 500 fell 28 points to close at 1,488 and the NASDAQ fell 46 points to close at 3,116.
 
European markets started the week higher: London’s FTSE gained 20 points, Paris gained 15 points and Frankfurt gained 111 points.
 
Asian markets finished Monday higher: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 38 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 277 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 12 points.
 
The Australian share market traded in positive territory yesterday, starting the week 0.75 per cent higher: The S&P/ASX 200 advanced 38 points to close at 5,056. On the futures market the SPI is 54 points lower. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:20AM was buying $US1.027 cents, 67.78 Pence Sterling, 94.05 Yen and 78.67 Euro cents.
 
Reporting season

Increased competition in the supermarket sector has pushed Patties Foods Limited's (ASX:PFL) first half net profit down 16.5 per cent to $9.1 million. The food manufacturer and owner of Four'n Twenty and Nanna's brands believes the result reflects challenging trading conditions. Shares in Patties Foods dropped 7.94 per cent on Monday to close at $1.57. 
 
Hutchison Telecommunications Limited (ASX:HTA) has widened its net loss to $393 million in the 2012 financial year as almost half a million customers left its joint venture network, Vodaphone. Chairman Canning Fok says Vodaphone is implementing a turnaround plan and although continuing losses are expected this year, the company expects Vodafone’s performance to continue to improve into 2014. Shares in Hutchison Telecommunications gained 3.33 per cent on Monday to close at $0.031. 
 
Ex-dividends
 
Austin Engineering Limited (ASX:ANG) with a 4.5 cent fully franked dividend
Echo Entertainment Group Limited (ASX:EGP) with a 4 cent fully franked dividend
HFA Holdings Limited (ASX:HFA) with a 2.9 cent fully franked dividend
Magellan Financial Group LLC (ASX:MFG) with a 5 cent fully franked dividend
Mortgage Choice Limited (ASX:MOC) with a 6 cent fully franked dividend
NRW Holdings Limited (ASX:NWH) with an 8 cent fully franked dividend
Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) with a 25 cent fully franked dividend
Platinum Asset Management Limited (ASX:PTM) with a 8 cent fully franked dividend
 
Commodities

Gold is up $13.80 to $US1,587 an ounce for the April contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.52 to $28.99 for March.
Copper is up $0.01 at $3.54 a pound.
Oil is $0.02 lower at $US93.11 a barrel for April light crude in New York.