Outlook: Aus shares set to open flat

Market Reports

With the SPI almost flat, the Australian share market is set for a steady start to the day, after US markets closed in the red following weak retail sales data.

US economic news

The US Census Bureau has shown Retail sales fell 0.5 per cent in June from the previous month, missing expectations for a 0.2 per cent rise. Business inventories are slowly growing, rising 0.3 per cent in May, coming in above expectations. The New York Empire State manufacturing index for July rose to 7.4 from 2.3 the month before.

Figures 

Wall Street closed lower yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 50 points to close at 12,727, the S&P500 shed 3 points to close at 1,354 and the Nasdaq was12 points down to close at 2,897

European markets closed mixed: London’s FTSE lost 4 points, Paris lost 1 point and Frankfurt gained 9 points.

Asian markets closed mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 29 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 4 and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 38 points.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 23 points up to finish at 4,105. On the futures market the SPI is 1 point up. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 7:15AM was buying $US1.025, 65.57 Pence Sterling, 80.85 Yen and 83.52 Euro cents.
 
Economic news 

Due out today from the Reserve Bank of Australia is the minutes of their monthly board meeting held earlier this month. Also out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics is international merchandise imports for June as well as new motor vehicle sales for June.
 
Company news
 
Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) has received conditional approval from Western Australia’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for the controversial liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing plants at James Price Point. The report issued by the EPA will be considered by the state and Commonwealth environment ministers. As operator of the proposed LNG development, Woodside is currently progressing plans to build and operate a 12 million tonne per annum LNG processing facility at the site. Shares in Woodside closed 0.86 per cent up yesterday at $30.56.
 
Troubled Tasmanian timber company Gunns Limited (ASX:GNS) will sell its Portland woodchip export facility to US owned Bluegum Plantation Pty Ltd for $61.8 million. A tolling arrangement has been reached for future access to the plant for the sale of forest products from the “green triangle” region, which spans between South Australia and Victoria. Gunns remains in a trading halt as it endeavours to recapitalise. Shares in Gunns last traded at $0.16. 
 
Ex-dividends
 
Mirrabooka Investments Limited (ASX:MIR) with a 6.5 cent fully franked dividend.

Tomorrow:
Finbar Group Limited (ASX:FRI) 
 
Commodities

Gold is down $0.40 to $US1,591.60 an ounce for the August contract on Comex.
Silver is down $0.05 to $27.32 for September.
Copper is down $0.02 at $3.48 a pound.
Oil is up $1.33 at US$88.43 a barrel for August light crude in New York.