Outlook: Stocks could open flat

Market Reports

The local share market may be in for a flat or slightly higher start this morning with mildly positive offshore leads from Wall St and European markets. Oil and copper were lower however.

Taking a look at Wall St, the Dow Jones managed to close above the 11,000 mark for the first time in close to 19 months on Monday. News over the weekend that European leaders have agreed to make loans available to Greece gave stocks a boost and investor optimism for a good first quarter reporting period resulted in a rush of buying in financial, energy and industrial stocks.

According to CNN Money the 16 countries that use the Euro have agreed to provide a total $40 billion in aid to Greece, while the International Monetary Fund has also agreed to give $13.5 billion.

In economic news, the US National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday, that it is too early to say whether the recession has ended, with the threat of a so-called ‘double dip’ recession still lingering.

Looking at the figures now, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished 9 points higher at 11,006. The S&P500 Index added 2 points to 1,196 and the NASDAQ rose 4 points to 2,458.

European stock markets closed mixed on Monday, London’s FTSE rose 7 points, Paris and Frankfurt were both flat.

Asian stocks were also mixed, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng is down 70 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei gained 48 points and China’s Shanghai Composite dropped 16 points.

The Australian share market closed higher on Monday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index finished 36 points stronger at 4,984 and on the futures market the SPI200 is down 15 points. On to currencies: the Aussie Dollar at 8:30AM was buying 92.59 US cents, 60.23 Pence Sterling, 86.37 Yen and 68.11 Euro cents.

In local economic news, ABS lending finance data for February is due out today, as well as the National Australia Bank business confidence survey for March.

To company news around this morning: Shares in aluminium producer Alcoa Inc (ASX:AAI) fell 9.31% to $39.90 yesterday. The company has reported a first quarter loss of US$201 million on hefty one-off charges. The loss includes US$295 million in one-off charges related to the health-care reform law and the permanent closure of two smelters. The result however is an improvement on a loss of US$497 million posted a year ago. Revenue for the period rose 20% to US$4.9 billion. For 2009 Alcoa recorded a loss of $1.28 billion.

Shares in mineral explorer Perseus Mining Ltd (ASX:PRU) dropped 0.49% to $2.04 on Monday. The company is to raise up to C$130 million through a share sale and share purchase plan. Proceeds from the raising will help strengthen the company’s balance sheet as it positions itself for gold production at the Central Ashanti Gold Project in Ghana in 2011. Shares are to be offered at a price of C$1.80 a share. Perseus Mining posted a loss for fiscal 09.

Taking a look at companies going ex-dividend today: And there is just one, New Hope Corporation with a 5 cent fully franked dividend. Coming up tomorrow we have Tamawood, Ausdrill on Thursday and Washington H. Soul Pattinson on Friday.

To commodities: The price of gold rose $0.50 to US$1,161.60 an ounce for the May contract on Comex. Silver gained 6 cents to US$18.40 for May and copper is down 2.5 cents at US$3.56 also for May.

And oil declined 58 cents to US$84.34 a barrel for May light crude in New York.