Outlook: Aus shares set to open higher

Market Reports

Following largely positive leads, the Australian share market looks set to open higher today after a day that saw the Australian share market extend last week’s gains and approach its highest levels this year. 
 
Stronger commodity prices and bullish gold buying buoyed the miners with all sectors except for consumer staples ending the session stronger. 
 
It’s a big day for results with BHP Billiton, Coca Cola Amatil, Seven West Media, Pacific Brands and Asciano among the companies due to report. 
 
It’s a massive day for data as well with the Minutes of RBA monthly board meeting to be released as well as the ABS International merchandise imports for January and the HIA Trades report for the December quarter 
 
The materials sector may be dragged down as Boral is set to go ex-dividend today.
 
The Figures

To the figures: Wall Street was closed yesterday for the President’s Day holiday but was up on Friday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 127 points to close at 16,154, the S&P 500 added 9 points to close at 1,839 and the NASDAQ gained 3 points to close at 4,244.
 
European markets were mixed. London’s FTSE gained 72 points, Paris lost 5 points and Frankfurt lost 6 points.
 
Asian markets closed up. Tokyo’s Nikkei added 80 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 238 points, and China’s Shanghai Composite added 20 points.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 27 points up to finish at 5,383. On the futures market the SPI is 28 points up. 
 
Currencies

The Australian Dollar at 8:30AM was buying $US0.9033 cents, 54.07 Pence Sterling, 92.09 Yen and 65.93 Euro cents.
 
Economic news

The Australian Bureau of Statistics will be releasing International merchandise imports for January. HIA Trades numbers for the December quarter are also due and the RBA Minutes. 
 
Company news

Infrastructure giant Asciano Limited (ASX:AIO) has announced a net profit of $190.2 million for H1 of Fiscal 2014. That’s up 6 per cent from H1 of last financial year. A 55 per cent increase in Bulk and Auto Port services as well as a 23.8 per cent increase in operating EBIT for PN Coal help drive result, though Terminal and Logistics and PN Rail operations were impacted by weak domestic demand. The company says the results were in line with guidance and it expects low single digit growth in underlying net profit in H2. Asciano will pay a fully franked dividend of 5.75 cents. Shares in Asciano Limited (ASX:AIO) closed 0.7 per cent up/ yesterday at $5.76.
 
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Limited (ASX:FPH) has increased its earnings guidance for the financial year ending 31 March 2014. The company says it now expects to earn $89.9 million in the year, up from earlier estimates as low as $83.4 million. The company says an increase in demand for its medical breathing assistance products has increased earning expectations. FPH says it will also enlarge its Tijuana, Mexico manufacturing facility. Shares in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare Corp Limited (ASX:FPH) closed 0.27 per cent up/ yesterday at $3.77.
 
Ex-dividends
 
Boral Limited ASX:BLD
Computershare Limited ASX:CPU
Domino Pizza Enterprises ASX:DMP
ITL Limited ASX:ITD
Mincor Resources NL ASX:MCR
Platinum Capital Limited ASX:PMC
 

Commodities

Gold is down $18.50 to $US1,319 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. Silver is up $1.02 to $21.42 for March. Copper is up $0.02 at $3.26 a pound. Oil is down $0.05 at US$100.30 a barrel for March light crude in New York.