Outlook: ASX looks to lift on stimulus hopes

Market Reports

After gaining over last week the Australian share market looks to continue positive momentum into the last day of the March quarter. US and European markets ended higher at the end of last week while Wall Street came off its peaks as the biotech sector weighed. Speculation China and the European Central Bank could loosen policy could support gains on the local bourse this week. Most analysts are expecting no change to the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) key interest rate when Australia’s central bank holds its monthly board meeting tomorrow. 
 
US economic news
 
The Commerce Department reported consumer spending rose by the largest amount in three months, gaining 0.3 per cent in February. Personal income also rose by 0.3 per cent last month. 
 
Thomson Reuters and the University of Michigan’s consumer sentiment index printed in line with expectations this month, lifting 0.1 from the preliminary March read. 
 
Global markets
 
The Dow was the only US index to edge higher over last week while with the NASDAQ posted its worst week since 2012. On Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 59 points to close at 16,323, the S&P 500 added 9 points to close at 1,858 and the NASDAQ added 5 points to close at 4,156.
 
Major European markets advanced more than 2 per cent over last week: At the end of last week London's FTSE 100 Index rose 27 points, France's CAC 40 jumped 32 points and Germany's DAX jumped 136 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed at the end of last week amid speculation China may turn to stimulus to reach its economic targets this year: On Friday, Japan’s Nikkei added 73 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 231 points, and China’s Shanghai Composite slipped 5 points.
 
The benchmark Australian index gained 0.5 per cent over the last trading week of March: The S&P/ASX 200 index lifted 17 points on Friday, widening the weekly gain of 29 points to finish at 5,367. On the futures market the SPI is 12 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 7:20am was buying $US0.9244, 55.54 Pence Sterling, 95.18 Yen and 67.2 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
TD Securities-Melbourne Institute: Inflation gauge for March
 
HIA: New home sales for February
 
RBA: Financial aggregates for February. 
 
Company news 
 
Fleetwood Corporation Limited (ASX:FWD) announced after the market closed on Friday its CEO Steve Price will step down at the end of the current financial year. The West Australian based caravan maker says Mr Price led the company through a challenging period and implemented a series of reforms. Fleetwood will now start the process of hunting down a new chief immediately. Shares in Fleetwood Corporation gained 1.96 per cent on Friday before the announcement was made to close at $2.60. 
 
Patties Foods Limited (ASX:PFL) has appointed Steven Chaur as its new CEO who will take the reins from April 15. The frozen food manufacturer says its incoming chief has a strong track record in transforming companies in the baking, dairy and frozen food industries. Mr Chaur’s previous experience includes positions with Tip Top Bakeries, Findus Australasia, National Foods Tasmania and Saint-Gobain. Shares in Patties Foods fell 2.26 per cent on Friday after the announcement was made to close at $1.30. 
 
Ex-dividends today
 
Money3 Corporation (ASX:MNY) paying a 2 cent fully franked dividend
Virtus Health Limited (ASX:VRT) paying a 12 cent fully franked dividend
Webster Limited (ASX:WBA) paying a 1.5 cent fully franked dividend
 
Ex-dividends tomorrow
 
Aberdeen Leaders (ASX:ALR) paying a 1.5 cent fully franked dividend
GBST Holdings (ASX:GBT) paying a 4 cent fully franked dividend
Hunter Hall Global (ASX:HHV) paying a 3.5 cent dividend
1300 Smiles Limited (ASX:ONT) paying a 6.5 cent fully franked dividend
 
Commodities 
 
The price of gold continues to hover near six-year lows and has dipped $0.90 at $US1,293.80 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. 
Silver has firmed $0.08 to $19.79 for May. 
Copper has added $0.05 to $3.04 a pound. 
Oil has gained $0.39 to $US101.67 a barrel for May light crude in New York.