Outlook: Aus shares poised for soft start

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks poised for a soft start to the day in the absence of a lead from Wall Street as US markets closed for the Martin Luther King Jr public holiday on Monday. With no major local economic news scheduled for today the focus remains on official inflation figures due tomorrow and the outcome of a two-day Bank of Japan policy meeting.
  
Figures

US markets were closed on Monday. Re-capping Friday’s close: The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished last week at 13,650, the S&P500 finished at 1,486 and the Nasdaq finished at 3,135.
 
European markets started the week higher: London’s FTSE added 27 points, Paris added 21 points and Frankfurt added 47 points.
 
Asian markets started the week mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 11 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei lost 166 and China’s Shanghai Composite added 11 points.
 
The Australian share market started the week slightly higher: The S&P/ASX 200 Index added 6 points to finish at 4,778. On the futures market the SPI is 3 points lower. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:20AM was buying $US1.051 cents, 66.46 Pence Sterling, 94.27 Yen and 79 Euro cents.
 
Company news

Shares in National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) lifted yesterday amid reports the bank could receive an offer for its loss-making UK operations. While NAB has not commented on the speculation, reports have suggested Spanish bank Santander is considering offering NAB $3 billion for its UK assets. NAB’s net profit slumped 22 per cent in fiscal 2012 on the back of its troubled UK business. Shares in National Australia Bank rose 1.9 per cent on Monday, ending at $26.85. 
 
Shares in Perseus Mining Limited (ASX:PRU) dipped after announcing its Managing Director would step down, ahead of releasing its quarterly activities report after the market closed yesterday. The gold producer has revealed current MD Mark Calderwood will be replaced by current chief financial officer Jeff Quartermaine from February 2013. Later in the day Persues posted a drop in December quarter gold production due to equipment failures at its Edikan mine in Ghana. Shares in Perseus Mining fell 4.17 per cent on Monday, ending at $1.96. 
 
Ex-dividends 
 
Abacus Property Group (ASX:ABP) with an 8.25 cent unfranked dividend
Mirrabooka Investments Limited (ASX:MIR) with a 3.5 cent fully franked dividend
Newhaven Hotels Limited (ASX:NHH) with a 2 cent fully franked dividend
 
Commodities

Gold last traded at $US1,687 an ounce for the February contract on Comex.
Silver last traded at $31.93 for March.
Copper last traded at $3.68 a pound.
Oil last traded at US$95.56 a barrel for February light crude in New York.