Outlook: ASX set to rally as AUD extends slide

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set to rally into the last session of the week and month while the Australian dollar has continued its slide south. Wall Street was boosted by a higher oil price, better than expected corporate earnings and US jobless claims hitting a 15-year low. The local currency has sunk under $US0.78 amid speculation the Reserve Bank of Australia could cut the key cash rate this Tuesday. Companies releasing production reports today include Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC), Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM), Paladin Energy Limited (ASX:PDN), Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) and BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI)
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street lifted on Thursday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 1.3 per cent to close at 17,417, the S&P 500 gained almost 1 per cent to close at 2,021 and the Nasdaq gained almost 1 per cent to close at 4,683.
 
European markets ended mixed on Thursday: London's FTSE 100 lost 0.2 per cent, France's CAC 40 added 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX firmed 0.3 per cent.
 
Asian markets sank steeply on Thursday: Japan’s Nikkei dropped 1.1 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dropped 1.1 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 1.3 per cent.
 
The Australian share market lifted out of the red to close higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 17 points to finish at 5,570 on Thursday. On the futures market the SPI is 53 points higher. 
 
Currencies 
 
The Australian dollar at 8:30am was buying $US0.776, 51.52 Pence Sterling, 91.82 Yen and 68.56 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Reserve Bank of Australia: Financial aggregates for December 
 
Company news
 
Federation Centres Limited (ASX:FDC) has reported annual retail sales growth, aided by strong mobile phone sales following the launch of the iPhone 6. The real estate investment trust posted a 1.3 per cent increase in retail sales over last year. CEO and Managing Director Steven Sewell says December quarter sales continued the positive momentum from the previous period. Shares in Federation Centres rose 0.66 per cent to close at $3.03 on Thursday following the announcement. 
 
Quickflix Limited (ASX:QFX) says it has achieved strong growth in new customers and streaming in the December quarter. The online movie rental subscription service reports customer growth has continued into the new year. Quickflix’s total number of customers now exceeds 140,000 while the number of its paying customers exceeds 120,000. Shares in Quickflix ended steady at $0.002 on Thursday following the announcement.
 
Ex- dividends 
 
Australian Masters Corporate Bond Fund Number 5 Limited (ASX:AKY) paying a 36 cent fully franked dividend
Australian Masters Yield Fund Number 1 Limited (ASX:AYD) paying a 140 cent fully franked 
Australian Masters Yield Fund Number 2 Limited (ASX:AYH) paying a 120 cent fully franked 
Australian Masters Yield Fund Number 4 Limited (ASX:AYK) paying a 93 cent fully franked
 
Commodities 

Gold has dropped $29.90 to $US1,257 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
Silver has fallen $1.14 to $16.95 for March. 
Copper has slipped $0.02 to $2.45 a pound. 
Oil has regained $0.07 to $US44.52 a barrel for February light crude in New York.