Outlook: Shares set to open lower after weak lead

Market Reports

The Australian share market is set to open relatively lower today after receiving a weak lead from offshore trading overnight. US stocks all edged lower on Thursday as investors were reluctant to take on more risk before the new year. European stocks also closed lower with China’s growth and euro’s debt concerns weighing on sentiment.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, closed 16 points lower to 11,570. S&P500 is down 2 points to 1,258 and the NASDAQ is down 4 points to 2,663.

European stocks were lower: London’s FTSE was down 25, Paris is down 40 and Frankfurt is down 81.

To Asian markets, stocks were mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 30, Tokyo’s Nikkei was down 116 points and China’s Shanghai Composite up 8 points.

The Australian share market finished higher on Thursday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 15 points to close at 4,790 and on the futures market the SPI is down 14 points.

Turning to currencies and the Aussie Dollar at 8:15am was buying U$US1.018, 65.99 Pence Sterling, 83 Yen and 76.61 Euro cents.

Company news: Yesterday, shares in Equinox Minerals Ltd (ASX:EQN) closed 0.34 per cent higher at $5.90. International copper miner Equinox Minerals has extended the deadline for its takeover offer for Citadel Resource Group until January 17, 2011. The dual Australian-Canadian listed Equinox currently holds a 81.68 per cent interest in Citadel. In October this year, Equinox announced its friendly $1.25 billion takeover of Citadel, an emerging base metals and gold company. For the year ended 30 June 2010, Equinox reported a net profit of $124 million.

On Thursday, shares in Leighton Holdings Ltd (ASX:LEI) closed 0.8 per cent lower at $31.10. Leighton’s parent company, German builder Hochtief, is prepared to lose its fight for independence from Spanish giant ACS, revealing a deal with its creditors to allow for the change of control. Hochtief’s lenders have waived their right to cancel credit lines should any shareholder hold over 30 per cent. Hochtief says lenders were happy that the company was well capitalised enough, thank in part to its sale of a 9.1 per cent stake to the government of Qatar in December. For the year ended 30 June 2010, Leighton reported a net profit of $615 million.

Ex-dividends: Clime Capital is going ex-dividend today with a 1 cent fully franked dividend.

Commodities: Gold is down $7.60 to $US1,405 an ounce for the February contract on Comex, silver is down $0.19 at $30.51 for March and copper is up $0.05 to $4.36 a pound and oil is down $1.28 at $US89.84 a barrel for February light crude in New York.

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