Outlook: Aus shares brace to retreat

Market Reports

After gaining 0.8 per cent last week the Australian share market looks set to retreat today, after US markets posted a weekly fall following a worse than expected jobs report. Attention turned to Europe over the weekend with Greek and French elections sparking jitters over the region’s debt crisis. On the local front there are a series of economic reports expected today and the federal budget due for release tomorrow.

US economic news

Hiring in the US slowed for the third straight month, fuelling concerns America’s recovery is stalling. The Labor Department has reported the US economy added 115,000 jobs in April, down from 154,000 jobs created the month before and under the 170,000 jobs that had been expected. The unemployment rate fell 0.1 per cent to 8.1 per cent as workers gave up looking for employment.

Figures

Wall Street posted a weekly fall, snapping two straight weekly gains: On Friday, The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 168 points to close at 13,038, the S&P500 lost 22 points to close at 1,369 and the Nasdaq lost 68 points to close at 2,956.
 
European markets also closed lower on Friday: London’s FTSE lost 111 points, Paris lost 61 points and Frankfurt lost 133 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed on Friday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng down 163 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 29 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 0.33 points.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 34 points over last week but lost 33 points on Friday to finish the week at 4,396. On the futures market the SPI is now 51 points down.

Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:50AM was buying $US1.0155 cents, 62.9 Pence Sterling, 81.01 Yen and 77.98 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today

The Australian Bureau of Statistics: Retail trade data and building approvals for March

ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ): Job ads for April

National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB): Business survey for April

Australian Industry Group and Housing Industry Association: Performance of construction index for April

Stocks to watch

Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) has reportedly scored the support of key institutional shareholders for its planned $400 million recapitalisation. According to Fairfax media the Tasmanian timber company, with a market cap of $136 million, owes more than $550 million. Earlier this year Gunns extended its first half net loss from $4.6 to $173 million. Shares in Gunns last traded at 16 cents, having entered into a trading halt on March 9, 2012.

Swiss company Glencore International’s $6 billion bid for dual-listed grain handler Viterra (ASX:VTA, TSE:VT) has cleared a hurdle. Canada's competition regulator says it will not oppose the friendly takeover bid that was launched in March. Viterra controls about 45 per cent of Canada’s grain trade with operations in Australia, the US, New Zealand and China. Shares in Viterra closed 0.06 per cent higher on Friday at $15.62.

Ex-dividends today

GPT Group (ASX:GPT): 4.6 cent interim dividend 
Macquarie Group Limited (ASX:MQG): 75 cent final dividend

Commodities

Gold is up $10.40 to $US1,645 an ounce for the June contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.42 to $30.43 for May.
Copper is down $0.015 at $3.72 a pound.
Oil is down $4.05 at $98.49 a barrel for June light crude in New York.