Outlook: ASX set for a weak open

Market Reports

Following negative leads from US markets and further losses in the Aussie dollar which is now trading close to 5 and a half year lows, the Australian share market will struggle to find traction this morning. Weaker commodity prices are also placing pressure on the market which is awaiting the first cash rate decision of the year from the Reserve Bank tomorrow. Despite market talk of a cut in interest rates, most analysts expect the RBA will keep rates on hold at 2.5 per cent. 

US Economic news

The Commerce Department has reported a slowdown economic growth with fourth quarter GDP easing to 2.6 per cent expansion following a jump of 5 per cent in the previous quarter. Business spending has also dipped however lower petrol prices are expected to feed some optimism into next quarter. Factory activity in the Midwest increased in January after 2 months of weaker activity, a further signal business spending could start tracking higher. Consumer sentiment is at an 11 year high, up 4.3 per cent in the fourth quarter.

Wall Street closed lower on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.5 per cent to close at 17,165, the S&P 500 lost 1.3 per cent to close at 1,995 and the NASDAQ shed 1 per cent to close at 4,365.
European markets closed lower: London’s FTSE dipped 0.9 per cent, Paris lost 0.6 per cent and Frankfurt eased 0.4 per cent.
Asian markets closed mixed: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.4 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.4 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite slid 1.6 per cent.
The Australian share market closed higher on Friday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 19 points up to finish at 5,588, a gain of 87 points on the week. On the futures market the SPI is 24 points down. 

The Australian Dollar at 8:20AM was buying 77.61 US cents, 51.43 Pence Sterling, 90.80 Yen and 68.56 Euro cents.
Company news
APN News and Media Limited (ASX:APN, NZX:APN) has completed on the $78 million acquisition of Perth radio station 96FM from Fairfax Media. The acquisition of the flagship station makes APN’s Australian Radio Network the number one Metropolitan Radio Network in the country. APN paid Fairfax $78 million from cash and existing debt facilities in the deal which completes its national KIIS network across five capital cities including Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Canberra. Shares in APN News and Media (ASX:APN) closed 1.25 per cent stronger at $0.81 on Friday. 
Energy Developments Limited (ASX:ENE) says first half earnings came in above expectations and lifted guidance for its full year result. First half earnings were $96 million, higher than the guidance range of $88 - $93 million. The result was due in part to higher prices for LGC’s and power prices in Queensland as well as strong performance from the recently acquired Envirogen assets. The utilities company says it now expects full year revenue to between $205 million and $210 million, up from previous guidance of $202 million. Shares in Energy Developments last traded up 3.61 per cent at $5.45 ahead of the weekend. 

Two companies are going ex-dividend today: Altona Mining Limited (ASX:AOH) will pay 3 cents un-franked and Katana Capital Limited (ASX:KAT) will pay 1.5 cents also un-franked. 

Gold is up $23.30 to $US1,279 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. Silver is up $0.43 to $17.21 for March. Copper is up $0.04 at $2.49 a pound. Oil is up $3.71 at US$48.24 a barrel for March light crude in New York.

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