Outlook: Aus shares set to open flat

Market Reports

Following soft offshore leads, the Australian share market looks set to open flat following concerns of China’s growth.

US economic news

The Commerce Department reported its fourth quarter GDP figures overnight, with a 3 per cent rise in GDP for the last three months of 2011 in line with expectations. JP Morgan expects continued growth at 2.2 per cent.

The Labor Department reported first time unemployment claims at 359,000 in the week ending March 24 from 364,000 the previous week.
 
Figures

Wall Street closed mixed yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 20 points to close at 13,146, the S&P500 lost 2 points to close at 1,403 and the Nasdaq lost 10 points to close at 3,095.

European markets closed down: London’s FTSE lost 67 points, Paris lost 49 and Frankfurt lost 124 points.

Asian markets closed down: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 276 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 68 and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 33 points.

The Australian share market closed lower yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 6 points down to finish at 4,338. On the futures market the SPI is 2 points down.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 9:00AM was buying $US1.0385, 65.11 Pence Sterling, 85.61 Yen and 78.10 Euro cents.

Economic news

Due out today from the Reserve Bank of Australia is financial aggregates for February and the Housing Industry Association new home sales- for last month.

Company news

Shares in QR National (ASX:QRN) closed 0.81 per cent down yesterday at $3.64. QR National has filed a notice with the WA Department of Mines on a possible 600km railway development that can carry iron ore to the Port Hedland export port, according to The Australian this morning. The railway proposal could reportedly, facilitate the transportation of iron ore from mines in the central and east Pilbara owned by  Atlas Iron Limited (ASX:AGO)  and Brockman Resources Limited (ASX:BRM). The railway operator downgraded its FY guidance last week. In the first half of the 2012 financial year, QR National posted a net profit of $189.3 million.

Shares in Prime Media Group Limited (ASX:PRT) closed 5.71 per cent up yesterday at $0.74. Prime Media confirmed after the market close yesterday that Lachlan Murdoch has withdrawn his 8.87 per cent stake in the regional free-to-air television business. Siobhan McKenna has also resigned as a director. Prime Media declared an interim dividend of $0.033 per share for the first half of fiscal 2012 which was paid to shareholders yesterday. Prime Media reported a $16.1 million net profit for the half year ending 31 December, 2011.

Ex-dividends

Ten companies are going ex-dividend today and they include: Australian Leaders Fund Limited (ASX:ALF), LinQ Resources Fund (ASX:LRF), Nufarm Limited (ASX:NUF) STW Communications Group Limited (ASX:SGN), Tasmania Mines Limited (ASX:TMM) and The Warehouse Group Limited (ASX:WHS).

Commodities

Gold is down $5.70 to $US1,652.20 an ounce for the April contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.16 to $32.00 for May.
Copper is flat at $3.80 a pound.
Oil is down $2.63 at $102.78 a barrel for April light crude in New York.