Fed rate hike expected this week: ASX to open higher

Market Reports

by David Chau

Australian shares are set to open higher this morning, according to ASX futures.

The local market will be boosted by an overnight rally in iron ore, which rose almost 2% to $US88.26 per tonne.

This morning, Wall Street finished mixed, with all 11 major S&P 500 sectors trading within a narrow range. Healthcare was the worst performer, while Energy shares held mostly steady despite the continuing fall in oil prices.

Investors all around the world are keenly waiting for the Federal Reserve to begin its two-day monetary policy meeting.  It is all but certain that the Fed will announce a US interest rate hike on Thursday morning.

Local economic news

Later today, NAB will release the results of its February Business confidence survey.

Markets

Wall Street finished mixed: The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.1 per cent to close at 20,881, the S&P 500 was flat at 2,373 and the NASDAQ rose 0.24 per cent to 5,876.

European markets finished higher: London’s FTSE gained 0.3 per cent, Paris was up 0.1 per cent and Frankfurt rose 0.2 per cent.

Asian markets also closed higher: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 0.2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 1.1 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite advanced 0.76%.

The Australian share market finished lower yesterday: the S&P/ASX 200 index fell by 18 points (or 0.3%) to close at 5,757. On the futures market the SPI is 17 points higher.

Company news

Washington H. Soul Pattinson (ASX:SOL) has increased its bid to takeover Hunter Hall (ASX:HHL) – with the lodgement of its seventh Supplementary Bidder’s Statement. Soul Pattinson currently has a 20.18% stake in Hunter Hall. In its latest bid, Soul Pattinson has offered an unconditional price of $2.00 for each Hunter Hall share. However, if Soul Pattinson is able to acquire at least 44% of Hunter Hall shares by 7.00pm tonight, then it will pay a conditional price of $2.60 per share. The independent directors of Hunter Hall have recommended that its shareholders reject this offer on the basis that it undervalues the company. Yesterday, shares in Hunter Hall closed 4.71% higher at $2.67.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7.30am was buying 75.74 US cents, 61.97 Pence Sterling, 86.97 Yen and 71.11 Euro cents.

Commodities

Gold has risen $2.20 to $US1,204 an ounce.
Silver has gained 7 cents to $17 an ounce.
Oil has dropped 6 cents to $US48.97 a barrel.

Ex-dividends