Outlook: ASX eyes softness before China PMI

Market Reports

The Australian share market is eyeing a soft start to the week after Wall Street ended a strong week of gains in the red. On Friday, in the absence of major company or economic news US stocks moved lower in volatile trade as four types of futures and options contracts came up for expiration.    
 
In the week ahead manufacturing figures will be in focus with data expected from the US, Europe and China today. Expectations are for China’s HSBC-Markit flash PMI to show some improvement in manufacturing conditions but remain under 50 which indicates contraction.    
 
Domestically it is a light week of economic news releases so attention will turn addresses from the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) Governor Stevens and deputy Governor Phil Lowe. 
 
Global markets
 
Despite a weekly gain of 1.4 per cent Wall Street fell on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 28 points to close at 16,303, the S&P 500 fell 5 points to close at 1,867 and the NASDAQ fell 43 points to close at 4,277.
 
Eurozone markets gained 2.6 per cent over last week and also finished Friday higher: London's FTSE 100 Index rose 15 points, France's CAC 40 rose 7 points and Germany's DAX rose 47 points.

Asian markets closed mixed on Friday with Chinese shares rising 2.2 per cent over the week while Japan slipped 0.7 per cent: Japan’s Nikkei dropped 238 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 255 points, and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 54 points.

The Australian share market climbed 0.8 per cent at the end of last week to end at session highs: The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 44 points on Friday to erase the weekly fall and end 8.7 points higher over the week at 5,338. On the futures market the SPI is 21 points lower. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 7:20am was buying $US0.9093, 55.17 Pence Sterling, 92.91 Yen and 65.92 Euro cents.

Company news 
 
ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) has forecast the size of Asia’s financial system will surpass that of America and Europe combined by 2030. The bank also predicts Asia’s top ten biggest economies will generate half of the world’s gross domestic product by 2050. ANZ’s report titled Caged Tiger: The Transformation of the Asian Financial System says this change is a tectonic shift in the global economic landscape. The bank is targeting up to 30 per cent profit growth outside of Australia by 2017. Shares in ANZ Banking Group firmed 0.4 per cent on Friday to finish the week at $32.25. 

Folkestone Limited (ASX:FLK) has inked a deal to buy a shopping centre in Queensland for its new real estate income fund. The real estate investor has acquired a recently developed neighbourhood shopping centre named The Station Oxley south-west of Brisbane. Folkestone says 70 per cent of the centre income will be sourced from supermarket giant Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) and the Queensland state government. Shares in Folkestone last traded at $0.18.  
 
Commodities
 
After plunging more than $US50 over last week the price of gold has gained $5.50 to $US1,336 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. 
Silver has lost $0.09 to $20.31 for May. 
Copper has added $0.05 to $2.95 a pound. 
Oil has firmed $0.56 to $US99.46 a barrel for May light crude in New York.
 
Ex-dividends

Australian Leaders (ASX:ALF)
APN Property Group (ASX:APD)
Brisbane Broncos (ASX:BBL)
Cabcharge Australia (ASX:CAB)
Capitol Health (ASX:CAJ)
Chandler Macleod Limited (ASX:CMG)
Crown Resorts Limited (ASX:CWN)
Fletcher Building (ASX:FBU)
Flight Centre Travel (ASX:FLT)
G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM)
Laserbond Limited (ASX:LBL)
MaxiTRANS Industries (ASX:MXI)
Skilled Group Limited (ASX:SKE)
Sealink Travel Group (ASX:SLK)
Seven Group Holdings (ASX:SVW)