Outlook: Aus shares set to open flat

Market Reports


Following mixed leads from US markets filled with jitters ahead of a Federal Reserve statement on potential interest rate hikes, the Australian share market looks set to open flat this morning. 
 
Weak manufacturing and construction figures from the US have analysts tipping rates will remain on hold till the third quarter while oil prices continue their downward spiral. 
 
US economic news

The Commerce Department is reporting that new home construction in February fell by 17 per cent to its lowest level in 12 months. The decline is expected to be short lived as heavy snow and cold weather delayed groundbreaking of new construction across much of the country. 
 
Markets

Wall Street closed mixed yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.7 per cent to close at 17,849, the S&P 500 slipped 0.3 per cent to close at 2,074 and the NASDAQ added 0.2 per cent to close at 4,937.
 
European markets closed mixed: London’s FTSE added 0.5 per cent, Paris lost 0.6 per cent and Frankfurt slipped 1.5 per cent.
 
Asian markets closed were also mixed: Tokyo’s Nikkei added just under one per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.2 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 1.6 per cent.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 44 points up to finish at 5,842. On the futures market the SPI is 1 point up.  
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:30AM was buying 76.13 US cents, 51.66 Pence Sterling, 92.4 Yen and 71.91 Euro cents.
 

 
Company news
 
Transurban Group (ASX:TCL) has announced it has closed on the $755million  re-financing of the 100 per cent owned Hill M2 Motorway. A consortium of international banks including JP Morgan Chase Bank, Scotiabank, Royal Bank of Canada and Mizuho Bank have joined Westpac, Commonwealth & NAB to provide finance. The deal introduces three new lenders to Transurban Group and delivers interest savings of 1.4 per cent. Shares in Transurban last traded 1.97 per cent higher at $9.30. 
 
Inabox Group Limited (ASX:IAB) says it is realising substantial synergies following the acquisitions of the Annittel software and services company. Up to $3 million in savings have been found across duplicate premises, admin services and overlapping roles with the money not previously included in forecasts. Surplus jobs will be made redundant and Inabox will invest around $1 million in sales and growth initiatives and new sales staff incurring some non-recurring transaction costs for the business. Shares in Inabox closed 6.66 per cent stronger at $0.80 yesterday. 
 
Commodities

Gold has slipped $5.00 to $US1,148 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. Silver has shed 4 cents to $15.58 for May. Copper is down 3 cents to $2.63 a pound. Oil has declined $0.42 to $US43.46 a barrel for April light crude in New York.

Ex-dividends
 
Company                   Code                           Amt     Franking
Ausdrill Limited            ASL                             1c        100%
Beyond International   BYI                              5c        0%
Cardno Limited           CDD                            13c      100%
Embelton Limited        EMB                            14c      100%
Flagship Investments  FSI                              3.5c     100%
Ironbark Capital Ltd    IBC                              1c        100%
K & S Corporation       KSC                            3.5c     100%
Laserbond Limited      LBL                              0.2c     100%
Mineral Resources.     MIN                             7.5c     100%
The Pas Group Ltd     PGR                            1.9c     100%
Primary Health Care   PRY                            9c        100%
Retail Food Group      RFG                            11.5c   100%
Skycity Ent Grp Ltd    SKC                               8.07c   25%
SMS Management.    SMX                             7c        100%
Woolworths Limited    WOW                          67c      100%