Outlook: ASX eyes fresh Wall St records

Market Reports

Ahead of the open of the final day of trade before Christmas, US markets have shot upward with the Dow Jones pushing above 18,000 points to hit a new record. 
 
The strong result came on the back of an upgrade in third quarter US GDP growth to 5 per cent, which is the strongest rate in more than a decade. With the SPI in the green local markets look set to reverse some of yesterday’s losses.
 
Optimism today is tempered by further weakness in the iron ore price as demand in China continues to soften amid growing supply levels. 

Figures

Wall Street closed mixed yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent to close at 18,024, the S&P 500 added 0.2 per cent to close at 2,082 and the NASDAQ lost 0.3 per cent to close at 4,765.
 
European markets closed up: London’s FTSE gained 0.3 per cent, Paris is up 1.4 per cent and Frankfurt gained 0.6 per cent.
 
Asian markets closed mixed: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.3 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite is down 3 per cent.
 
The Australian share market closed lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 61 points down to finish at 5,381. On the futures market the SPI is 27 points up.
 
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:25AM was buying $US0.8101 cents, 52.24 Pence Sterling, 97.83 Yen and 66.57 Euro cents.
 
Company news
 
Norton Gold Fields Limited (ASX:NGF) has refinanced its $85 million and $USS25 million facilities with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China in Perth. The company says it will also roll over the outstanding debt into a new join $120 million facility with ICBC and the Agricultural Bank of China in Sydney. The new facility has a term of three years. Shares in Norton Gold Fields closed 4 per cent up yesterday at $0.13.
 
Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO) has flagged a non-cash impairment of up to $900 million for the first half of the 2015 financial year. The iron ore miner says the write-downs come amid sliding iron prices that have impacted the value of its Pilbara assets. The company says the actual numbers are subject to ore price and foreign exchange forecasts to be assessed at the year’s end. Shares in Atlas Iron closed 3.45 per cent lower yesterday before the news at $0.14.
 
Commodities

Gold is down $1.80 to $US1,178 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. Silver is up $0.08 to $15.77 for March. Copper is down $0.01 at $2.87 a pound. Oil is up $1.86 at US$57.12 a barrel for February light crude in New York.
 
Ex-dividends

Asia Pacific Data Centre Group (ASX:AJD) paying a 2.25c unfranked,
Rural Funds Group (ASX:RFF) paying a 2.14c unfranked 
Rfm Poultry (ASX:RFP) paying 2.51c fully franked.