Outlook: ASX eyes soft end to rocky week

Market Reports

The Australian share market looks set for a soft start to the session following a rocky week of losses. While Wall Street was supported by retail sales growth and declining jobless claims commodity prices continued to remain weak. The Australian dollar has seen volatile trade and dipped to a fresh four-year low after comments from the Reserve Bank of Australia’s Governor Glenn Stevens. On the local front official lending finance data will be released and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) and Noni B Limited (ASX:NBL) are expected to hold annual general meetings. 
 
Global markets
 
Wall Street came off the session’s highs on Thursday but still ended higher: The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 0.4 per cent to close at 17,596, the S&P 500 gained 0.5 per cent to close at 2,035 and the Nasdaq gained 0.5 per cent to close at 4,708.
 
European markets closed mixed on Thursday: London's FTSE 100 dropped 0.6 per cent, France's CAC 40 lost 0.05 per cent and Germany's DAX rose 0.6 per cent.
 
Asian markets sank on Thursday: Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.9 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng fell 0.9 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 per cent.
 
The Australian share market shed 0.6 per cent yesterday: The S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 28 points to close at 5,231 on Thursday. On the futures market the SPI is 8 points lower. 
 
Currencies
 
The Australian dollar at 8:20am was buying $US0.8264, 52.58 Pence Sterling, 98.29 Yen and 66.68 Euro cents.
 
Economic news due out today 
 
Australian Bureau of Statistics: Lending finance data for October
 
Company news 
 
Bradken Limited (ASX:BKN) has decided to open its books to its suitors one week after receiving an $872 million non-binding takeover bid. The mining services provider and supplier scored the $5.10 cent per share offer from funds advised by Pacific Equity Partners and Bain Capital Asia last Friday. Bradken says its board has determined to allow the consortium to undertake due diligence and engage with the consortium to determine if a suitable offer can be put to shareholders. Shares in Bradken closed 1.32 per cent lower at $4.50 yesterday following the announcement. 
 
BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) is targeting more cost savings at its Nullagine mine in Western Australia, a joint venture with Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG). Amid a declining price for iron ore the Pilbara focussed miners will implement a number of measures to deliver sustainable cost savings. Managing Director Morgan Ball says while the company has had to make a number of tough business decisions recently the mine is performing strongly. Shares in BC Iron closed 1.27 per cent higher at $0.40 yesterday following the announcement. 
 
Ex-dividends

Metals X Limited (ASX:MLX) paying a 2.71 cent fully franked dividend
 
Commodities 

Gold has slipped $3.70 to $US1,226 an ounce for the February contract on Comex. 
Silver has dipped $0.10 to $17.09 for March. 
Copper has lifted $0.02 to $2.91 a pound. 
Oil has eased $1.55 to $US59.61 a barrel for January light crude in New York.