Outlook: Aus shares set for a moderate start

Market Reports

by Anastasia Mangafas

The Australian share market is set for a moderate start to the day, after US markets pulled back overnight as investors await an outcome to budget talks.
 
US economic news

The pace of home building was slightly lower in November according to the Census Bureau, but is still close to four year highs. Housing starts declined 3 per cent for the month following a spike of 5.3 per cent in October and a jump of 12.4 per cent in September. 
  
Figures 

Wall Street closed lower yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 99 points to close at 13,252, the S&P500 lost 11 points to close at 1,436 and the Nasdaq lost 10 points to close at 3,044.
 
European markets closed up : London’s FTSE gained 26 points, Paris added 16 and Frankfurt gained 15 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 129 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 237and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 0.23 points.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 23 points up to finish at 4,618. On the futures market the SPI is 1 point lower.
 
Turning to currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:25AM was buying $US1.048, 64.56 Pence Sterling, 88.52 Yen and 79.28 Euro cents.
 
Economic news

Due out today from the Commonwealth Bank is the business sales indicator for September.
 
Company news
 
Origin Energy Limited (ASX:ORG) has had its appeal dismissed in the Queensland Supreme Court. The energy provider was fighting against the Queensland Competition Authority’s electricity price determination for this financial year, which it argues did not factor in full wholesale costs of supplying electricity. Origin says it will not challenge the court ruling. Shares in Origin Energy closed 3.55 per cent up yesterday at $11.67.

In an effort to reduce its debt, Nexus Energy Limited (ASX:NXS) says it has agreed to sell another 2 per cent in its Crux gas venture  in Western Australia’s offshore Browse Basin to field operator Royal Dutch/Shell. The move will see the oil and gas producer reduce its stake to 15 per cent and boost Shell’s to 82 per cent. Nexus’ Managing Director says $73 million in proceeds will be used to retire debt from its Longtom gas project in Bass Strait. Shares in Nexus Energy closed 7.14 per cent up yesterday at $0.15.
 
Ex-dividends 

G8 Education Limited (ASX:GEM) with a 2 cent fully franked dividend 
Thorn Group Limited (ASX:TGA) with a 4.5 cent fully franked dividend 
 
Commodities 

Gold is down $3.00 to $US1,668 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. Silver is down $0.55 to $31.12 for March. Copper is down $0.05 at $3.61 a pound. Oil is up $1.58 at US$89.51 a barrel for January light crude in New York.

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