Outlook: ECB stimulus sweetener to support ASX

Market Reports

Hopes for more economic stimulus in Europe look set to support the Australian share market to a higher open. Wall Street gained ahead of a European Central Bank meeting where the ECB is expected to officially unveil a new quantitative easing program. US traders were also encouraged by stronger housing starts data for December, offsetting weaker than expected building permits numbers. 
 
Attention was also on Canada overnight as the nation’s central bank surprisingly cut its main policy rate to 0.75 per cent from 1 per cent. The move was made partly in response to the recent collapse of oil prices and in turn pushed both the Canadian and Australian down against the US dollar. 
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street lifted on Wednesday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2 per cent to close at 17,556, the S&P 500 added 0.5 per cent to close at 2,032 and the Nasdaq added 0.3 per cent to close at 4,667.
 
European markets moved higher yesterday: London's FTSE 100 climbed 1.6 per cent, France's CAC 40 advanced 0.9 per cent and Germany's DAX rose 0.4 per cent.
 
Asian markets finished mixed on Wednesday: Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.5 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 1.7 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite jumped 4.7 per cent.
 
The Australian share market soared to session highs to end 1.6 per cent stronger yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 index spiked 86 points on Wednesday to close at 5,393. On the futures market the SPI is 39 points higher. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar at 8:20am was buying $US0.8099, 53.51 Pence Sterling, 95.37 Yen and 69.81 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Consumer price index for January 
 
Housing Industry Association: New home sales for November
 
Company news
 
Milton Corporation Limited (ASX:MLT) has improved its first half net profit by 7.7 per cent to $66 million and flagged higher investment revenue over the full 2015 financial year. The investment company has boosted its fully franked interim dividend by 3.7 per cent to 8.5 cents per share and expects to at least maintain its annual dividend at 9.4 cents per share. Shares in Milton Corporation rose 0.88 per cent to close at $4.56 following the release of results.  
 
Mastermyne Group Limited (ASX:MYE) has scored a three-year development services contract with Anglo American with options to extend annually for an extra two years. The underground coal contractor expects the award to contribute about $20 million per annum over the term of the contract, including the options period. Shares in Mastermyne Group ended steady at $0.235 following the announcement.  
 
Ex-dividends 

Mirrabooka Investments (ASX:MIR) paying a 3.5 cent fully franked dividend

Commodities 
 
Gold has eased $0.80 to $US1,293 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
Silver has risen $0.18 to $18.14 for March. 
Copper has added $0.01 to $2.60 a pound. 
Oil has firmed $1.14 to $US47.61 a barrel for February light crude in New York.