Outlook: ASX set to open flat

Market Reports

The SPI is pointing to a flat start for the Australian sharemarket this morning. US stocks have closed higher in response to Greece’s parliament agreeing to harsh austerity measures, rebounding from a drop at the end of last week. The US President has also unveiled his $US3.8 trillion budget.

Figures

US markets have made gains, the Dow Jones is up 73 points, to 12,874. The S&P 500 is up 9 points to 1,352 and the Nasdaq gained 28 points to 2,931.

European markets finished higher yesterday: London’s FTSE gained 53 points, Paris rose 11 and Frankfurt added 46 points.

Asian markets closed mixed yesterday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng gained 104 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 52 points and China’s Shanghai Composite fell less than a point.

The Australian share market finished higher on Monday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 40 points to finish at 4,285. On the futures market the SPI is now 4 points lower.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:30am was buying $US1.0741 cents, 68.12 Pence Sterling, 83.37 Yen and 81.41 Euro cents.

Economic news due out today

National Australia Bank's monthly business survey for January.

Company news

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) firmed 0.82 per cent yesterday to close at $50.29. Late yesterday afternoon the CBA raised its standard variable mortgage rate by 10 basis points to 7.41 per cent, taking effect next Monday. ANZ was the first of the Big Four to make a move on Friday, lifting its rate by 6 basis points to 7.36 per cent, despite the Reserve Bank keeping the official cash rate steady at 4.25 per cent. Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) increased its lending rates by 10 basis points soon after, lifting its standard variable rate to 7.46 per cent. In the 2011 financial year Commonwealth Bank reported a net profit of $6.4 billion.

Shares in National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) firmed 1.39 per cent yesterday to close at $23.26. The NAB joined Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) , Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC), Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Limited (ASX:BEN), raising its standard variable mortgage rate by 9 basis points to 7.31 per cent, starting Monday February 20. Bendigo also lifted its standard variable rate on Monday afternoon by 15 basis points to 7.45 per cent. NAB posted an annual net profit of $5.2 billion in the 2011 financial year.

Ex-dividends

Three companies are going ex-dividend today, they are Argo Investments Limited (ASX:ARG) with a 13 cent fully franked dividend, GUD Holdings Limited (ASX:GUD) with a 30 cent fully franked dividend and Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX:TAH) with a 13 cent fully franked dividend.

Commodities

Gold is down $0.40 to $US1,725 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. Silver is up $0.12 to $33.72 for March. Copper is down 2 cents at $3.84 a pound. Oil has gained $2.24 at $100.91 a barrel for March light crude in New York.