* US stock markets finished modestly higher for the week, just when we thought the markets were going to have the pull-back they had to have (earlier in the week).
* European stocks closed slightly higher, after finally receiving the news that there was eventually a strong uptake of Greece’s proposed EUR206 billion private sector debt restructuring program.
* Asian markets climbed yesterday as traders remained cautious.
* Commodities prices traded mixed, as Gold prices rose higher to around $US1,710, while crude-oil closed around $US106.
The SPI Futures is trading above the key pivot level of 4180, ending up 0.2% (or 8 points) at 4,234. The key levels for our index today are 4180 to 4230.
Aussie shares are expected to ease off today. The markets in the US and Europe managed slight gains for the week and are testing key resistance levels again this week. Note some Australian states are on holiday today so that will impact trading volumes on our market.
See below for ASX listed companies in the news today.
US stock markets finished modestly higher for the week, just when we thought the markets were going to have the pull-back they had to have (earlier in the week).
Friday marked the three-year anniversary of the S&P500′s plunge to a 12-year low, a move that has been followed by a sharp rally and the S&P500 is now up 102 percent from that low. The S&P500 ended the week up 0.1 percent, even after earlier in the week marking its weakest day so far in 2012 on concerns about a default by Greece on its country’s debt.
Investors continue to focus on improving domestic data, and the latest round was the stronger-than-expected jobs report, which is widely watched because the jobs are finding it difficult to recover. The Non-farm payrolls rose by 227,000 in February, stronger than the 213,000 forecast, and the unemployment rate remained at 8.3%, in line with forecasts.
Technically, the markets are hovering near key resistance levels, which will be key near-term. Look for the S&P500 to close above 1,376 for the bull to prevail. For the year-to-date the Dow Jones is up 5.7%, the S&P500 is up 9%, while the Nasdaq has outperformed up 14.7% for 2012.
All ten company groups that make up the S&P index traded higher, with Materials up 1.6%, Energy sector up 0.8%, Financials up 1.0%, Industrials up 1.4%, Technology up 1.0%, while Consumer Staples were up 1.0%.
The Dow Jones closed up 0.6% (or 70 points) at 12,908, the S&P 500 index up 1.0% (or 13 points) at 1,366, the Nasdaq ended up 1.2% (or 34 points) at 2,970 and the smaller cap Russell 2000 was up 1.1%.
European stocks closed slightly higher, after finally receiving the news that there was eventually a strong uptake of Greece’s proposed EUR206 billion private sector debt restructuring program. The Stoxx Europe 600 was up 0.5%. The Greek debt-swap deal has been done and under the terms of the bond swap announced by the Greek government early Friday, Greek bonds worth EUR172 billion were tendered out of the total EUR206 billion held by private investors, totalling an overall participation rate of 83.5%.
For the week the FTSE 100 index closed down -0.4%, the German DAX was down -0.6%, while in France the CAC was down -0.4%, in Italy ended down -2.5%.
Commodity prices eased on the session and traders are looking for the next country to have debt problems, and the candidates include Protugal, Spain and Italy.
For the session the FTSE 100 index closed up 0.5% (or 28 points) at 5,887, the German DAX was up 0.7% (or 46 points) at 6,880 while in France the CAC was up 0.3% (or 9 points) at 3,487. Spain was down -0.3% and Italy ended down -1.1%.
Asian markets closed lower for the week, except for Japan, as investor concern over the eurozone debt issues and the slowing growth cycles weighed on sentiment.
The Japanese market has outperformed in the Asian region, with exporters leading the charge against the weakening yen, a decline in Chinese inflation and optimism over the Greek debt restructuring. This week marks the anniversary of the Japanese earthquake, which has seen all but two nuclear power generators shut down. The Nikkei Stock Average briefly topped 10,000 for the first time since August 2011 and is up 18% YTD.
In China the Shanghai Composite has advanced 12% YTD and is testing key resistance around 2450. The index rose on Friday after data showed the February consumer price index rose 3.2%, easing back from a 4.5% in January. Stocks rallied even though analysts said the data may not be enough to prompt more monetary easing from Beijing in the immediate future, as the data is confirming that China is successfully engineering its “soft” landing. China now has a $US31.5 billion trade deficit for February which was substantially larger than most analysts expected.
In China the SSE Composite was closed up 0.8% (or 19 points) at 2,439, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index was up 0.9% (or 185 points) at 21,086 and in Japan the Nikkei 225 Index closed up 1.6% (or 160 points) at 9,929. The South Korean KOSPI was up 0.8% for the session, while the Indian market closed up 2.1%.
The Dollar Index was higher at 79.99 on a lower Euro, while the Australian Dollar last traded lower at 1.0578. Commodities prices traded lower. For the session the Benchmark crude NYMEX for April delivery was down -0.2% (or -$US0.16) settle at $US107.24. Copper prices are bumping against a key resistance level as Copper for March delivery was up 1.9% (or 6.0 cents) at $US3.8525. April gold was up 0.9% (or $US14.80) at $US1,710.
ASX News Today
AIO – Asciano said its Patrick ports business has applied to Fair Work Australia to commence conciliation with the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) over an industrial dispute.
ANZ – ANZ Banking Group has left its variable interest rates unchanged after its monthly review.
AMC – Amcor, the packaging maker, will expand its flexible packaging business with the $238 million acquisition of Aperio Group.
AUN – A final decision on Foxtel’s proposed takeover of Austar is dragging on, after the competition regulator opened a new round of market consultation on the $2.5 billion transaction.
GNS – Gunns Ltd is in a trading halt after the company announced that New Zealand-born billionaire Richard Chandler had decided against investing in Gunns.
IAG – Insurer IAG will cut 600 jobs over the next three years as part of a restructure of its CGU business.
LEI – Leighton Holdings the engineering, construction and property group, has appointed seasoned construction engineer Mike Rollo as its chief risk officer.
NCM – Newcrest Mining, Australia’s largest gold producer, says new laws limiting foreign ownership of mines in Indonesia will not affect its Gosowong operations on Halmahera Island.
QAN – Qantas sold-off after the company failed to strike a deal with Malaysian Airlines in its bid to set up a new premium airline.
TLS – Telstra will participate in the rollout of the national broadband network (NBN) after finalising its $11 billion agreement with the federal government and NBN Co.
ASX – to open higher
US & UK/Europe – sharply higher
Oil Stocks Index up 0.2%
Commodities Stock Index up 1.2%
Gold Stocks Index down -0.3%
US ADRs – Broadly Higher
BHP up 0.2%, RIO doown -0.3%; AWC up 0.4%
ANZ up 0.2% & NAB down -0.4%
NEM down -0.1%, JHX up 1.1%, NWS up 0.9%
By Michael Hevern
Head of ResearchFor Buy and Sell recommendations on ASX listed companies register for a FREE trial of MDS Financial Research.