Outlook: ASX looks up before RBA decision

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks to lift this morning ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly interest rate decision when rates are being widely tipped to stay unchanged at 3 per cent. Overnight European markets closed mixed while US markets rose on the back of comments signaling the Federal Reserve will continue its stimulus, generating optimism which offset fears across Asian markets when Beijing yesterday revealed tighter controls to avert a real estate bubble.
 
Figures

Wall Street started the week stronger with the Dow Jones edging toward fresh five-year highs: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 38 points to close at 14,128, the S&P 500 gained 7 points to close at 1,525 and the NASDAQ gained 12 points to close at 3,182.
 
European markets started the week mixed: London’s FTSE lost 33 points, Paris added 10 points and Frankfurt lost 17 points.
 
Asian markets also started the week mixed: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 342 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei added 46 and China’s Shanghai Composite fell 86 points.
 
The Australian share market dropped 1.5 per cent on Monday, finishing at session lows: The S&P/ASX 200 Index retreated 76 points to close at 5,011. On the futures market the SPI is 32 points higher. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:30AM was buying $US1.02 cents, 67.49 Pence Sterling, 95.29 Yen and 78.3 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 

Reserve Bank of Australia: March board meeting and interest rate decision

Australian Bureau of Statistics: Retail trade data for January, balance of payments position for December and government finance statistics for December quarter

Australian Industry Group-Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA): Performance of Services Index for February
 
Company news

News Corp’s (ASX:NWS, NASDAQ:NWS) chief Rupert Murdoch has taken the 91st rank in the latest Forbes billionaires list with a fortune of $US11.2 billion. Other Australian-listed companies whose leaders made the cut include Crown Limited’s (ASX:CWN) Executive Chairman James Packer, coming in 198th with $US6 billion and Fortescue Metals Group Limited’s (ASX:FMG) founder Andrew Forrest on the 211th position with $US5.7 billion. Mining magnate Gina Rinehart’s fortunate of $US17 billion elevated her to the 36th wealthiest person in the world. Shares in News Corp dipped 0.07 per cent on Monday, closing at $28.50. 
 
Sky Network Television Limited (ASX:SKT, NZE:SKT) has today confirmed News Corp’s sale of its 44 per cent stake in the New Zealand based pay TV provider. News Corp’s Australian arm News Limited announced the $700 million sale to a range of institutional and retail investors yesterday. Both companies do not anticipate the transaction will alter current access to content and collaboration on technology. Shares in Sky Network Television last traded at $4.14 before entering into a trading halt. 
 
Ex dividends
 
AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK)
Beyond International Limited (ASX:BYI)
CSL Limited (ASX:CSL)
Caltex Australia Limited (ASX:CTX)
Hunter Hall International Limited (ASX:HHL)
Hunter Hall Global Value Limited (ASX:HHV)
Iress Limited (ASX:IRE)
Qube Holdings Limited (ASX:QUB)
Vocus Communications Limited (ASX:VOC)
 
Commodities

Gold is up $0.60 to $US1,573 an ounce for the April contract on Comex.
Silver is up $0.01 to $28.50 for May.
Copper is up $0.02 at $3.50 a pound.
Oil is down $0.56 at $US90.12 a barrel for April light crude in New York.