Outlook: ASX looks lower as oil price slips

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set to extend declines after yesterday’s wobbly start to the week. While European markets mainly edged higher Wall Street dipped as oil prices retreated 5 per cent to six-year lows. The iron ore price has lost another 2 per cent while the price of perceived safe haven gold has risen to a 12-week high. Today’s spotlight will turn to China’s trade report for December which is expected to be released this afternoon.  
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street sank into the new week: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.5 per cent to close at 17,641, the S&P 500 fell 0.8 per cent to close at 2,028 and the Nasdaq fell 0.8 per cent to close at 4,665.
 
European markets ended mixed on Monday: London's FTSE 100 finished steady, France's CAC 40 added 1.2 per cent and Germany's DAX jumped 1.4 per cent.
 
Asian markets closed mixed yesterday: Japan’s Nikkei added 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.5 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite declined 1.7 per cent.
 
Following a weekly gain the Australian share market shed 0.8 per cent on Monday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 43 points yesterday to close at 5,423. On the futures market the SPI is 42 points lower. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar at 8:20am was buying $US0.8158, 53.77 Pence Sterling, 96.52 Yen and 68.96 Euro cents.
 
Company news
 
Shares in LifeHealthcare Group Limited (ASX:LHC) rose after revealing a better than expected trading update in advance of its first half results. The distributor of medical devices says unaudited net profit after tax and amortisation is expected to have jumped 19.5 per cent from its prospectus forecast. The company attributes the anticipated result to growth across both implantable devices and capital equipment and expects momentum to continue. Shares in LifeHealthcare Group gained 19.42 per cent to close at $2.46 on Monday following the announcement. 
 
Shares in Pro Medicus Limited (ASX:PME) lifted after inking a five-year $5 million deal with US outpatient group Zwanger-Pesiri. The imaging IT company says Zwanger-Pesiri will use its Visage 7 for primary diagnosis and clinical distribution of medical images. Pro Medicus believes the deal has potential for further upside through opening opportunities in the US outpatient/imaging centre market. Shares in Pro Medicus gained 4.78 per cent to close at $1.21 on Monday following the announcement. 
 
Commodities 

Gold has gained $17.30 to $US1,233 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
Silver has lifted $0.15 to $16.57 for March.
Copper has slipped $0.03 to $2.72 a pound. 
Oil has declined $2.57 to $US46.42 a barrel for February light crude in New York.