* US stock markets sold-off from the outset overnight, suffering their biggest declines for the year and stringing together 5 straight days of losses.
* European stock markets slumped overnight, as Italian and Spanish cost of funding soared, sparking renewed concerns over the eurozone debt crisis.
* Asian markets mostly fell yesterday, as traders took profits off the table.
* Commodities prices lower, with Gold prices around $US1,659, while crude-oil closed around $US101.
Australian shares are expected to ease again today, as stocks sold-down again in overseas markets. Markets continued to back off multi-year highs trading lower in Europe and in the US.
The SPI Futures is trading above the key pivot level of 4250, ending down -1.3% (or -55 points) at 4,252. The key levels for our index today are 4200 to 4280.
See below for ASX listed companies in the news today.
Economics News Today
* Feb Housing Finance Approvals
* Apr DEEWR Monthly Leading Indicator of Employment
* Apr Westpac – Melbourne Institute Consumer Sentiment
US stock markets sold-off from the outset overnight, suffering their biggest declines for the year and stringing together 5 straight days of losses with the biggest 5-day declines since last November (over -4% of declines).
The Dow Jones Industrial had its biggest single day drop since November, while in the broader markets the S&P500 had its biggest 1-day decline in 5 months and the Nasdaq fell for an eighth time in the past 10 trading days. Stocks are coming off their best first-quarter (1Q) since 1998 and traders are taking profits, as the US begins its earnings season.
Across the S&P 500 all the sectors finished down heavily. However Alcoa, which fell 2.9% during the trading session, has kicked off the first-quarter earnings season with better than expected results with a profit for the quarter and earnings of 10 cents/share (compared with expectations of a loss). Analysts are forecasting 1Q earnings for the S&P 500 companies to show the slowest year-over-year growth since the financial crisis. The reporting continues with Google on Thursday and from JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo on Friday.
All ten company groups that make up the S&P index traded lower overnight, with Materials down -2.1%, Energy down -1.9%, Financials down -2.2%, Industrials down -2.0%, Technology down -1.4%, while Consumer Staples were down -2.4%.
The Dow Jones closed down -1.7% (or -214 points) at 12,716, the S&P 500 index was down -1.7% (or -24 points) at 1,359, the Nasdaq ended down -1.8% (or -56 points) at 2,991 and the smaller cap Russell 2000 was down -2.4%.
European stock markets slumped overnight, as Italian and Spanish cost of funding soared, sparking renewed concerns over the eurozone debt crisis. The benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 index slumped -2.5%.
Across the region banks led the falls, but the sell-off was broad-based across the region. The Italian stock market plunged -5%, for its biggest one-day drop since the beginning of November and the Spanish market slumped -4%, for its lowest close since March 2009, as traders fear that the country’s budget deficit is spiralling out of control, and the government faces growing opposition to deep austerity cuts.
The three major indexes in London, Germany and France were all down over -2.2% for the sessions, after returning from the Easter break with the disappointing US jobs report and French manufacturing production data showed an unexpected 1.2% decline in February, while industrial production climbed 0.3% in the same month.
In London the FTSE 100 index closed down -2.2% (or -128 points) at 5,595, the German DAX was down -2.5% (or -169 points) at 6,606 while in France the CAC was down -3.1% (or -102 points) at 3,217. Spain was down -3.0% and Italy ended down -5.0%.
Asian markets mostly fell yesterday, as traders took profits off the table.
In Japan the Nikkei Stock Index initally rose 1.1% but finished flat, after the Bank of Japan (BoJ) left its policy interest rate and the size of its asset purchases unchanged. In Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index lost 1.2% as traders were in a negative mood after returning from a 4-day weekend, as they digested the disappointing US jobs report and Chinese trade and inflation data.
In China the Shanghai Composite bucked the trend by erasing early losses to end almost 1% higher. The boost in Chinese stocks came as traders factored in expectations for monetary easing by the Beijing Government, after data released by the Chinese General Administration of Customs showed an unexpected swing to a trade surplus of $5.35 billion in March, from a deficit a month earlier, with export growth beating economists’ estimates, while imports increased at a slower pace. Further easing would be a boost to the ASX mining sector too.
In China the SSE Composite closed up 0.9% (or 20 points) at 2,306, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index closed down -1.2% (or -237 points) at 20,356 and in Japan the Nikkei 225 Index closed down -0.1% (or -8 points) at 9,538. The South Korean KOSPI was down -0.1% for the session, while the Indian market closed up 0.1%.
The Dollar Index was higher at 79.86 on a lower Euro, while the Australian Dollar last traded lower at 1.0245. Commodities prices traded generally lower.
For the session the Benchmark crude NYMEX for April delivery was flat (or $US0.08) to settle at $US101.10. Copper prices are backing off a key resistance level as Copper for April delivery was down -2.0% (or -6.3 cents) at $US3.6460. April gold was up 1.0% (or $US16.70) at $US1,659.
ASX News Today
AUN – Pay TV operator FOXTEL is free to take over regional rival Austar after receiving the ACCC approval.
ERA – Energy Resources of Australia has increased its expectations for how much uranium oxide it expects to produce in 2012 to between 3,200 and 3,700 tonnes.
GNS – Gunns has again asked for more time to allow it to compile a plan to raise funds.
GWA – GWA Group the building fixtures supplier says full year earnings are likely to fall around 25 percent as home building continues to slow and bad weather hits sales.
LEI – Leighton Asia has won a $420 million contract to provide mining services to PT Marunda Grahamineral’s coal mining project in Borneo.
QRN – Liberal National Party (LNP) backer Clive Palmer says he is still trying to gather evidence for a planned lawsuit against QR National.
TOL – US truck drivers working for Australian transport Toll Group at the Port of Los Angeles will hold a historic vote that could have ramifications at ports across the US and in Australia.
VAH – Virgin Australia will invest $8 million in regional carrier Skywest Airlines to help expand their existing partnership.
WPL – The Woodside Petroleum-led JV with BHP that is aiming to build a $30 billion gas hub in the Kimberley has been given more time to make a final investment decision on the project.
New Hope Corporation (NHC)
ASX – to open lower
US & UK/Europe – lower
Commodities Stock Index down -1.43%
Gold Stocks Index up 1.1%
Oil Stocks Index down -2.0%
US ADRs – Broadly Lower
BHP down -1.3%, RIO down -3.4%; AWC down -2.9%
ANZ down -0.4% & NAB down -1.9%
NEM up 2.0%, JHX down, NWS down-2.0%
By Michael Hevern