Outlook: Aus shares look set for a positive start

Market Reports

Aussie shares look set for a positive start, with Wall Street finishing stronger overnight. US Stocks closed higher on Tuesday with encouraging profits from aluminium producer Alcoa stirring confidence in investors.

In US economic news: According to Briefing.com, the United States trade balance widened to $42.3 billion in May from $40.3 billion in April. The US Treasury Department announced that the government has amassed a budget deficit of $68 billion in June, lower than the $70 billion deficit predicted by analysts.

On Tuesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 147 points higher at 10,363. The S&P 500 Index gained 17 points to 1,095 and the NASDAQ added 44 points at 2,242.

European stocks closed higher; London’s FTSE up 104 points, Paris gained 70 and Frankfurt rose 114.

Asian markets were lower on Tuesday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 36, Tokyo’s Nikkei down 11 and China’s Shanghai Composite down 40.

The Australian share market finished lower on Tuesday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 30 points lower at 4,380 and on the futures market the SPI200 is up 69 points. Turning to currencies and the Aussie Dollar at 7:55AM was buying 88.32 US cents, 58.18 Pence Sterling, 78.36 Yen and 69.42 Euro cents.

In local economic news: Due out today, The Westpac Melbourne Institute’s survey of consumer sentiment for July, and the Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations vacancy report.

In business news: Shares in Alumina Ltd (ASX:AWC) are down 0.32% at $1.54 on Tuesday. Alumina says its joint venture with Alcoa is expected to produce 15.6 million tones of aluminium in 2010. This is 200,000 tonnes down from the level targeted at the beginning of the year. Alcoa World Alumina and Chemicals is a joint venture where Australian-based Alumina is a 40% partner with Alcoa, who own the remaining 60%. Alumina Ltd says it received US$95 million of dividends from the AWAC joint venture in the first half of 2010. Alumina recorded a loss of $26 million for the year ending 30 December, 2009.

Shares in Platinum Capital Ltd (ASX:PMC) down 1.05% at $1.42 on Tuesday. Asset manager Platinum Capital says it anticipates recording a lower operating profit before tax for 2010 than the previous year. The company says it expects to post profit before tax of between $20 and $26 million for the year ended 30 June 2010, down from $29.7 million recorded for the year ended 30 June 2009. Platinum Capital says the final result is dependent on factors still to be finalised and will be announced on 9 August. Platinum Capital recorded a profit of $20.57 million for the year ending 30 June, 2009.

To commodities, and the price of gold up $14.80 to US$1,213.30 an ounce for the July contract on Comex. Silver is up $0.34 cents to US$18.24 and copper is up $0.01 at $3.01 a pound.

And the price of oil is up $2.20 to US$77.15 a barrel for August light crude in New York.