Outlook: Aus shares set for strong start

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set for a strong start to a new week after European and US markets rose at the end of last week and the Dow ended above 14,000 for the first time since 2007. Locally there are a series of economic reports due today ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly board meeting and interest rate decision tomorrow. 
 
US economic news

America’s monthly jobs report has shown the nation added less jobs than expected as the unemployment rate rose at the beginning of this year. The Labor Department reported the US economy added 157,000 jobs in January. The US unemployment rate edged up to 7.9 per cent in January from 7.8 per cent the month before. However, investors were encouraged by the fact the Labor Department reported the economy added more jobs than initially posted in 2012. 
 
The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index rose more than expected, increasing to 53.1 in January. 
 
The Census Bureau reported construction spending increased more than expected, lifting 0.9 per cent in December. 
 
The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index lifted higher than expected, ticking up to 73.8 in January.
 
Figures

Wall Street closed rose over last week: On Friday, The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 149 points to close at 14,010, the S&P500 added 15 to close at 1,513 and the Nasdaq added 37 points to close at 3,179.
 
European markets closed higher on Friday: London’s FTSE added 70 points, Paris gained 41 points and Frankfurt went up by 57 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed on Friday: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 8 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 53 and China’s Shanghai Composite went up by 34 points.
 
The Australian share market rose 0.9 per cent on Friday, extending the weekly gain: The S&P/ASX 200 Index added 42 points on Friday and 44 points over the week to finish at 4,921. On the futures market the SPI is 24 points higher. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:50AM was buying $US1.042 cents, 66.43 Pence Sterling, 96.73 Yen and 76.37 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Building approvals data for December

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

Dun and Bradstreet: Business expectations survey

TD Securities: Inflation data for January
 
Company news
 
Drug developer Alchemia Limited (ASX:ACL) has reached the full patient quota for its phase 3 trial of cancer drug HA-Irinotecan. 390 patients have been recruited in Australia and Europe since the study began in January last year, and Executive Chairman Dr Mel Bridges says the recruitment to the trial was completed on time and on budget. Shares in Alchemia closed 3.03 per cent down on Friday at $0.32. 
 
JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX:JBH) has agreed to extend its rental product operating agreement with ThinkSmart Limited (ASX:TSM) to the second half of 2015. JB will include Thinksmart’s ‘no interest ever’ Fido financing product, launched last year, within the extended contract. 
Shares in JB Hi-Fi closed 0.91 per cent up on Friday at $9.99. 
 
Ex dividends today

Alcoa (ASX:AAI) with a 2.45 unfranked dividend
 
Ex dividends tomorrow
 
Australian Foundation Investment Co. Limited (ASX:AFI) with an 8 cent fully franked dividend

Commodities

Gold is up $8.60 to $US1,671 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. Silver is up $0.61 to $31.96 for March. Copper is $0.05 higher at $3.78 a pound. Oil is up $0.28 at US$97.77 a barrel for March light crude in New York.

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