Outlook: ASX set to widen 2013 rally

Market Reports

The Australian share market is set to open higher and widen this year’s rally as the last day of the trading year approaches tomorrow. Wall Street ended mainly flat on Friday as investors took a breather from a month of record-breaking jubilant gains.
Closer to home the search for a market moving catalyst will continue over what is a holiday period for most. With no major economic news scheduled for release this week trade is forecast to be thin. 
Wall Street dipped on Friday, ending a strong yet shortened trading week in the red. The Dow Jones Industrial Average snapped a six day record streak, dipping 1.5 points to end at 16,478. The S&P 500 paused its record run and slipped 0.62 points to finish at 1,841. The NASDAQ lost 11 points, pulling back from a 13-year high to close at 4,157.
European markets rose on Friday after returning from a two-day Christmas break: London’s FTSE added 57 points, Paris added 59 points and Frankfurt added 101 points.
Across Asia stocks rallied into the end of the week: Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 4.5 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 64 points, China’s Shanghai Composite gained 28 points.
The Australian share market finished in the red at the end of last week following a strong Santa rally in the lead up to Christmas. The S&P/ASX 200 index lost 3 points on Friday, trimming the weekly gain of 59 points to finish at 5,324. On the futures market the SPI is 25 points higher. 
The Australian Dollar has weakened from Friday’s close and at 7:30AM was buying $US0.8865 cents, 53.85 Pence Sterling, 93.23 Yen and 64.49 Euro cents.
Stocks to watch
As the year draws to an end bank shareholders should be feeling happy with the sector having outperformed the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index by 13.5 per cent. Shares in National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) have paved the way, advancing more than 35 per cent in 2013 followed by ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) each gaining more than 20 per cent over the year. Earlier this month NAB’s chairman Michael Chaney told the bank’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) the lender has made progress in rectifying mistakes of the past decade and flagged signs of improving economic prospects. Shares in National Australia Bank dipped 0.23 per cent on Friday to end the week at $34.70. 
Oil and gas explorer Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) has told media it will only commence the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Kimberley region when community’s concerns have been addressed. Executive Director Eric Streitberg has told News Corporation the company has submitted environmental management plans for a series of fracks set for 2014 but which will only begin once the consultation process is finished and everybody is comfortable. Mr Streitberg says Buru Energy plans to demonstrate there are no major environmental issues with fracking and address the controversy which he believes is based on very few facts. Shares in Buru Energy dipped 0.3 per centon Friday to finish the week at $1.63. 
Dividends today
Dicker Data Limited (ASX:DDR) paying a 1 cent fully franked dividend 
Dividends this week
Clime Capital (ASX:CAM) paying a 1 cent fully franked dividend 
Programmed Maintenance Services Limited (ASX:PRG) paying a 6 cent fully franked dividend 
The price of gold remains on track for its worst annual loss in 30 years but steadied on Friday, adding $1.70 to $US1,214 an ounce for the December contract on Comex. 
Silver has firmed $0.13 to $20.05 for March. 
Copper has slipped $0.01 at $3.38 a pound. 
Oil has gained $0.77 at $US100.32 a barrel for January light crude in New York.