Outlook: Aus shares set for soft start

Market Reports

Following weak offshore leads, the Australian share market looks set for a soft start as the world awaits further developments from talks between Russia and the US over the conflict in the Ukraine.
 
US economic news 

U.S. payroll data shows companies added 139,000 workers in February, fewer than the 155,000 advance estimated with employers waiting for a pickup in demand before boosting headcount. US Service industries expanded at the slowest pace in four years, analysts blaming the inclement weather this northern winter.
 
The figures

Wall Street closed mixed yesterday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 36 points to close at 16,360, the S&P 500 lost 0.1 of a point to close at 1,874 and the NASDAQ gained 6 points to close at 4,358.
 
European markets closed lower: London’s FTSE lost 48 points, Paris lost 5 points and Frankfurt lost 47 points.
 
Asian markets closed mixed as well: Tokyo’s Nikkei added 176 points, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 78 points, and China’s Shanghai Composite lost 18 points.
 
The Australian share market closed higher yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 46 points up to finish at 5,446. On the futures market the SPI is 12 points down. 
 
Currencies and the Australian Dollar at 8:45AM was buying $US0.8989 cents, 53.76 Pence Sterling, 91.96 Yen and 65.45 Euro cents.
 
Economic news

Due out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics are Retail trade figures for January as well as international trade in goods and services for January. 

Company news
 
Deutsche Bank has joined a chorus of analysts and issued a ‘sell’ rating on Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX:TWE) saying the stock now has a target price of $3.18. Treasury Wine Estates had last month issued a profit warning. 
 
The wine maker cut its full year earnings forecast by $40 million due to a drop in sales volumes amid increasing competition. The company has announced it would be targeting other Asian markets after demand in China had fallen. Shares in Treasury Wine Estates closed 2.08 per cent lower yesterday at $3.76.
 
TFS Corporation Limited (ASX:TFC) has made its first delivery after inking an agreement to supply pharmaceutical grade Indian sandalwood oil to US JV Santalis Pharmaceuticals. The oil will be used in dermatological products but may also be used in fine fragrances.
 
CEO Frank Wilson says the deal is a vindication of a soil-to-oil strategy and completes a cycle that started 16 years ago with the establishment of the plantation at Kununurra in the Ord River region of Western Australia. Shares in TFS Corporation also closed 2.08 per cent lower yesterday at $1.41.
 
Commodities

Gold is down $0.50 to $US1,337 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. Silver is down $0.03 to $21.20 for May. Copper is down $0.01 at $3.20 a pound. Oil is down $2.42 at US$100.91 a barrel for April light crude in New York.
 
Ex-dividends: 
 
11 companies are going ex-dividend today: 
 
Academies Aus Group (ASX:AKG)
Aus Gov Index Fund (ASX:AQF)
Asian Masters Fund (ASX:AUF)
Logicamms Limited (ASX:LCM)
MyState Limited (ASX:MYS)
Northern Star (ASX:NST)
Oil Search Limited (ASX:OSH)
Payce Consolidated (ASX:PAY)
Prophecy International (ASX:PRO)
QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE)
Wellcom Group Limited (ASX:WLL)