Outlook: Aussie shares may open lower

Market Reports

With no lead from major overseas markets, the Australian share market is likely to open weaker today with investor focus on the RBA rates decision this afternoon.

Wall St was closed on Monday for the Memorial Day public holiday, with London also closed for the spring bank holiday. Other European markets closed weaker overnight still hurting from Spain’s debt rating downgrade.

Turning to overseas markets and European stocks finished mixed on Monday. London’s FTSE is closed, Paris dropped 8 and Frankfurt is up 18 points.

To Asian markets, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 2 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei rose 6 and China’s Shanghai Composite is 64 points lower.

The Australian share market closed weaker on Monday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index lost 28 points to 4,430 and on the futures market the SPI200 is down 17 points. Turning to currencies and the Aussie Dollar at 8:50AM was buying 84.71 US cents, 58.33 Pence Sterling, 77.27 Yen and 68.95 Euro cents.

In local economic news: The RBA is to announce its decision on rates today at 2:30pm Sydney time following its monthly policy meeting, the central bank’s index of commodity prices for May is also out, as well as the ABS retail trade data for April, ABS building approvals for April and the Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Performance of Manufacturing index for May.

To company news around this morning: Shares in global miner BHP Billiton Ltd (ASX:BHP) closed 1.87% weaker at $38.24 yesterday. The miner is to close one of its two export berths at the Hay Point Coal Terminal in QLD for over a month as it carries out maintenance works. The Australian Financial Review says the move has sparked concern it will make supply constraints even worse. BHP is the global leader in coking coal supply through its Mitsubishi Alliance and the Hay Point Coal Terminal is the miner’s major export terminal. According to the Fin Review, the alliance ships 44 million tonnes of coal a year from the two berths at Hay Point. For the 2009 financial year, BHP booked a profit of $7.243 billion.

Shares in Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund (ASX:TSI) closed 2.2% higher at $0.685 on Monday. The company has completed the sale of the Mt Millar Wind Farm in South Australia to Meridian Energy for $191 million. The sale proceeds along with $78.4 million received from the institutional and early retail components of its equity offer, will go towards repaying debt. Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund says it expects to receive a further $28 million after retail shareholders have an opportunity to take up the offer. CEO Steve MacDonald says the sale of Mt Millar Wind Farm, in conjunction wo9th other initiatives announced as part of a capital structure review, will allow the fund to continue to deliver attractive and sustainable distributions. Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund posted a loss for fiscal 09 after a profit the year before.

Just one company going ex-dividend today, and that is Newhaven Hotels with a 2 cent fully franked dividend. Coming up on Friday is NAB.