The Aussie sharemarket’s got mixed leads this morning after a four-day break but investors will be keeping their eye on retail stocks following the pre and post Christmas Day shopping period.
Shoppers may have been saving their pennies til the last minute before Christmas because consumer spending rose just 0.1 per cent in November. That matches the modest October increase. The Commerce Department also says incomes rose 0.1 per cent, the weakest showing since a 0.1 per cent decline in August.
But the National Retail Federation says it’s expecting holiday season sales to rise 3.8 per cent to a record $469.1 billion, slower than last year’s growth but stronger than forecast.
Wall Street was mixed: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost three points to close at 12,291, the S&P500 added 0.1 point to close at 1,265 and the Nasdaq gained seven points to close at 2,625.
European markets closed higher on Tuesday: London’s FTSE was up 56 points, Paris was up one point and Frankfurt was up 11 points.
Asian markets finished mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 251 points, Tokyo Nikkei was down 39 and China’s Shanghai Composite was down 24 points.
The Australian share market finished higher before the Christmas break. The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 50 points to finish at 4,140. On the futures market the SPI is 48 points stronger.
The Australian Dollar at 8:50am was buying US$1.016, 64.85 Pence Sterling, 79.13 Yen and 77.74 Euro cents.
Toll Holdings (ASX:TOL) shares rose 1.15 per cent to $4.41 on Friday. Chief executive Brian Kruger told Fairfax Media the logistics group is going to slow its rate of takeovers to adjust the company's focus from "growth through acquisitions to growing the bottom line through things like productivity improvements and organic growth". But the Commonwealth Bank of Australia says the group’s only "halfway" to meeting its goal of increasing annual revenue to $3 billion.
Toll Holdings reported a net profit of $294.8 million in the six months to June.
Shares in Gloucester Coal Limited (ASX:GCL) soared on 21.62 per cent to $8.55 on Friday after the miner entered into a merger proposal with China owned Yancoal Australia to create the largest pure coal producer in Australia. The deal will be the biggest investment by a Chinese state-owned company in Australia's coal sector. In the 2011 financial year Gloucester Coal Limited reported a profit of $54.5 million.
The only company going ex-dividend today is Clime Capital Limited (ASX:CAM) with a one cent fully franked dividend. Next week is Aberdeen Leaders Limited (ASX:ALR) and CIC Australia (ASX:CNB).
Gold is down $10.50 to $US1,595.50 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. Silver is down 34.4 cents to $28.74 for March. Copper is down six cents at $3.43 a pound. Oil is up $1.66 at $101.34 a barrel for January light crude in New York.