Aust Market Outlook - 03/03/10, 9.11am EST

Market Reports

The Australian share market may open slightly higher this morning after US stocks edged up overnight. Stronger oil and commodity prices are likely to lift resource and energy stocks today.

Wall St closed flat or marginally higher overnight as investor sentiment lifted on an increase in merger and acquisition activity and progress made to secure European financial backing for debt laden Greece.

The Automakers also released sales results for February following Toyota’s massive recall last month.

Toyota Motor said sales fell 9%, Ford Motor reported a 43% jump in sales outpacing General Motors for the first time in 10 years who posted a 12% rise in sales for the month.

Checking the figures now, and US markets closed slightly higher on Tuesday - the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 2 points to 10,406 points. The S&P500 Index gained 3 points to 1,118 and the NASDAQ was up 7 points to 2,281.

To other international markets, European stocks were also higher. London’s FTSE rose 78 points, Paris was up 42 and Frankfurt gained 63.

Asian stocks closed mixed on Tuesday with Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 151 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei up 50 and China’s Shanghai Composite down 15 points.

The Australian share market closed higher on Tuesday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 15 points to 4,702 and on the futures market the SPI200’s up 24 points. On to currencies: the Aussie Dollar at 8:35AM was buying 90.39 US cents, 60.42 Pence Sterling, 80.27 Yen and 66.44 Euro cents.

To company news around this morning: Shares in office products company Corporate Express Australia Ltd (ASX:CXP) fell 0.23% to $4.29 yesterday. The company says it is in good shape to benefit when the market recovers after completing a number of projects aimed at improving customer service and cutting costs. However, the company says as yet it has not seen any real signs of a sustained upturn in demand, either from its major corporate clients or in the middle market and says it doesn’t expect that to change significantly in the near term. The company says net profit after tax for the 12 months to January 31, 2010 fell 6.9% to $57.1 million compared to $61.4 million the year before. Corporate Express Australia declared a final dividend of 12.5 cents a share. For the year to January 2009 Corporate Express Australia paid shareholders a total 26.5 cents a share in dividends.

Shares in gold miner Norton Gold Fields Ltd (ASX:NGF) gained 14.28% at $0.20 yesterday. The company has raised $20 million through the sale of 79.8 million shares at 25 cents a share to Hong Kong listed China Precious Metal Resources. The placement represents around 14.6% of the company’s capital, with the Chinese company entitled to nominate a representative to the Norton board. Chairman Anthony McLellan says this raising further strengthens the company’s balance sheet and gives Norton some flexibility going forward in both operational and corporate aspects of the business. Norton Gold Fields reported a loss for the 2009 financial year.

Let’s take a look now at ex-dividend: And among those companies going ex-dividend today we have Goodman Fielder with a 5.25 cent unfranked dividend, Insurance Australia Group with a 8.5 cent fully franked dividend, QBE with a 66 cent 20% franked dividend, Sonic Healthcare with a 24 cent 35% franked dividend and Spark Infrastructure with a 6.84 cent unfranked dividend.

To commodities: Gold rose $19 to US$1,137.30 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. For the May contract Silver added 59 cents to US$17.06 and copper rose 6 cents to US$3.41.

And finally, oil gained $1.02 to US$79.72 a barrel for April light crude in New York.