The Australian sharemarket could follow US markets higher at the end of a short trading week as recovering crude oil prices continue to support energy stocks.
There were broad gains overnight in Wall Street with many of the industry sectors finishing in positive territory despite company earnings falling in the first quarter.
US economists see the drop in profits as tied in to the stronger dollar and not necessarily a long term drag on the prospects for share prices.
US economic news
The Labor Department says the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits climbed by less than expected last week, up 14,000 to 281,000. Analysts were expecting 285,000. Meanwhile new claims over the last month dropped signaling that even while job creation appears to have slowed, few workers are getting laid off.
Wall Street closed up yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.3 per cent to close at 17,959, the S&P 500 added 0.5 per cent to close at 2,091 and the NASDAQ lifted 0.5 per cent to close at 4,975.
European markets closed stronger London’s FTSE advanced 1.1 per cent, Paris added 1.4 per cent and Frankfurt rose by 1.1 per cent.
Asian markets closed mixed: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.8 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 2.7 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite retreated 0.9 per cent.
The Australian share market closed lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 29 points down to finish at 5,932. On the futures market the SPI is 16 points higher.
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 7:30AM was buying 76.96 cents, 52.33 Pence Sterling, 92.8 Yen and 72.21 Euro cents.
Due out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics is housing finance for February with expectations the number of loans will have risen by around 3-4 per cent.
Panoramic Resources Limited (ASX:PAN)
has warned production is now expected to come in at the lower end of guidance of 20-21,000 tonnes of nickel. A rescheduling of production at the Lafranchi mine due to a drill availability means some production will be pushed into 2016. The company also says it has made a significant new discovery of high grade mineralization at its Lower Schmitz orebody channel. Shares in Panoramic Resources last traded flat at $0.49.
Shopping Centres Australiasia Property Group (ASX:SCP)
has completed on the sale of its Margaret River Shopping Centre in Western Australia. The $18 million sale was recorded as an incomplete transaction in first half results. The company recently reported a 128 per cent jump in first half profit on the back of positive revaluations of its portfolio. Shares in SCA Property Group rose 0.47 per cent to $2.11.
3 companies will trade ex-dividend today, Brickworks Limited (ASX:BKW)
will pay 15 cents fully franked, FFI Holdings (ASX:FFI)
will pay 8 cents fully franked and TPG Telecom Limited (ASX:TPM)
will pay 5.5 cents, also fully franked.
Gold has tumbled $9.50 to $US1,194 an ounce for the June contract on Comex. Silver has slipped 28 cents to $16.18 for May. Copper is flat at $2.73 a pound. Oil has advanced $0.37 to $US50.79 a barrel for May light crude in New York.