* US stock markets finished mixed in choppy trading, on mixed economic data.
* European stock markets ended positively, after a choppy session of trading.
* Asian stock markets ended lower yesterday, as slowing Chinese growth and eurozone debt concerns weighed.
* Commodities prices were lower, with Gold prices around $US1,651, while crude-oil closed around $US103.
Australian shares are expected to ease again today, after stocks ended mixed in overseas markets. Markets continued to ease after suffering their worst 2 week performances for the year in Europe and in the US.
The SPI Futures is trading above the key pivot level of 4250, ending up 0.2% (or 9 points) at 4,312. The key levels for our index today are 4280 to 4320.
See below for ASX listed companies in the news today.
US stock markets finished mixed in choppy trading, on mixed economic data.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose due to better-than-expected retail sales data. In the broader markets the S&P500 and the Nasdaq eased, being weighed down by the Technology and Energy sectors, with support coming from the Materials and the Financials sectors.
In economic news the Commerce Department reported US retail and food service sales in March rose 0.8% from a month earlier, significantly beating expectations. However New York manufacturing activity slowed sharply in April, as US business inventories rose in February, led by an increasing number of cars on dealer lots, as companies kept pace with rising sales. Also weighing on sentiment was data that showed home-builder sentiment dropped for April, the first fall in seven months.
In corporate news Citigroup shares rose 1.8% after reporting improvements in all three of its lines of business for the first quarter, and a doubling in revenues on quarter. Apple shares fell -4.1%, their biggest drop since October, and have been sold down for the past 5 trading sessions.
The ten company groups that make up the S&P index traded mixed, with Materials up 0.3%, Energy down -0.7%, Financials up 0.7%, Industrials up 0.3%, Technology down -1.1%, while Consumer Staples were down -0.4%.
The Dow Jones closed up 0.6% (or 72 points) at 12,921, the S&P 500 index down -0.1% (or -1 points) at 1,369, the Nasdaq ended down -0.8% (or -23 points) at 2,988 and the smaller cap Russell 2000 was up 0.2%.
European stock markets ended positively, after a choppy session of trading. The Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.3%.
Across the region stocks rallied after US data showed a bigger-than-expected 0.8% increase in March retail sales, but then gave back gains after home-builder sentiment dropped for April, the first fall in seven months.
The major indexes were up around 0.5%, and banks finished off their lows. The Spanish market continued lower though, as yields on the their 10-year government bond stuck close to the psychologically key level of 6%.
Traders will be monitoring the Spanish debt auctions Tuesday and Thursday, as they become increasingly nervous about the eurozone, with concerns mounting that coming so soon after Greece’s bond restructuring, Spain’s efforts to resurrect its economy may not work, and that the European Central Bank may need to readdress its tool kit in order to curb selling pressure on its bonds.
In London the FTSE 100 index last closed down -0.8% (or -44 points) at 5,666, the German DAX was last up 0.6% (or 41 points) at 6,625 while in France the CAC was last up 0.5% (or 16 points) at 3,205. Spain was down -0.6% and Italy ended up 0.4%.
Asian stock markets ended lower yesterday, as slowing Chinese growth and eurozone debt concerns weighed.
Traders are taking time to digest the ramifications of the announcement by the People’s Bank of China over the weekend to double the yuan’s trading range against the dollar on a given day from 0.5% to 1%, pushing currencies such as the yen and the US dollar higher, and hurting commodity prices.
Markets across the region closed lower for the session, but in China the Shanghai Composite Index actually finished flat by the close. Regional banks continued to sell-off, while growth-linked resource stocks declined as a firmer US dollar further weighed on commodity prices.
In China the SSE Composite last closed down -0.1% (or -2 points) at 2,357, while in Hong Kong the Hang Seng Index last closed down -0.4% (or -90 points) at 20,610 and in Japan the Nikkei 225 Index closed down -1.7% (or -167 points) at 9,470. The South Korean KOSPI was up 0.3% for the session, while the Indian market closed up 0.3%.
The Dollar Index was lower at 79.50 on a higher Euro, while the Australian Dollar last traded higher at 103.48. Commodities prices traded generally lower.
For the session the benchmark crude NYMEX for April delivery was up 0.2% (or -$US0.25) to settle at $US103.18. Copper prices are backing off key resistance levels as Copper for April delivery was flat at $US3.6240. April gold was down -0.5% (or -$US7.80) at $US1,651.
ASX News Today
ANZ – ANZ Bank on Friday lifted interest rates for its variable home loan customers and small business borrowers despite the central bank leaving the cash rate on hold.
CWP – Cedar Woods, the property developer, says it is on track to post a record full year profit and that its outlook remains positive.
DXS – Dexus Property Group, the office and industrial property owner, is selling 65 properties in the United States for $US770 million.
IVA – Ivanhoe Australia says its Merlin molybdenum and rhenium project will cost $345 million to bring into production, slightly above previous estimates.
LNC – Linc Energy shares surged over 30 percent on the open after it formed a joint venture to produce gas in China. China’s Golden Concord has bought 5% of Linc for about A$120M, in a JV to deploy underground coal-gasification technology, and Linc expects the first site to be operational within a year.
MTU – M2 Telecommunications has been bought by Primus Telecom for $192.4 million in cash.
WBC – Westpac will open its first branch in India after receiving a banking licence from the Reserve Bank of India.
WHC – Whitehaven Coal’s friendly $5.1 billion takeover of Nathan Tinkler’s Aston Resources has been approved by Ashton shareholders. The deal will create Australia’s largest listed independent coal company. Mr Tinkler holds a 32 per cent stake in Aston, which the takeover values at about $720 Million.
Ludowici Limited (LDW)
ASX – to open lower
US & UK/Europe – mixed
Commodities Stock Index down -0.6%
Gold Stocks Index down -1.3%
Oil Stocks Index down -0.2%
US ADRs – Broadly Mixed
By Michael Hevern