Outlook: Aus shares set for stronger start November 19, 2010 09:15 AM
The Australian share market looks set for a stronger start to the day. US stocks climbed over 1 per cent yesterday after an encouraging debut by General Motors, and fears over Ireland’s debt crisis easing on news the Irish government is expected to accept a bailout loan.
In US economic news: The Labor Department showed the number of people filing for first-time unemployment benefits rose by 2,000 to 439,000 in the last week, below the figure that was expected. While the number of Americans who have continuing claims, receiving benefits for more than one week, fell to 4.3 million in the week gone, representing the smallest figure in almost two years. The positive economic data continued with a read from The Philadelphia Federal Reserve, its index on manufacturing grew to 22.5, up from 1 in October, coming in much higher than expected.
On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 174 points higher at 11,181. The S&P500 Index up 18 points at 1,197 and the NASDAQ closed 38 points higher at 2,514.
European stocks were higher: London’s FTSE up 76 points, Paris is up 76 and Frankfurt up 132.
To Asian markets, stocks closed stronger: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 423 points, Tokyo’s Nikkei was up 202 points and China’s Shanghai Composite up 27.
The Australian share market finished higher on Thursday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 16 points to close at 4,640 and on the futures market the SPI200 is up 30 points.
Turning to currencies and the Aussie Dollar at 8:35AM was buying just over 99 US cents, 61.73 Pence Sterling, 82.69 Yen and 72.58 Euro cents.
In local economic news: Due out today The Melbourne Institute bulletin of economic trends.
Company news: On Thursday shares in Westpac Banking Corporation’s (ASX:WBC) closed down 0.59 per cent at $21.80. Westpac’s CEO Gail Kelly has refuted claims that she does not have a strategy for the bank, telling The Australian she will focus on relationships with customers and particular segments, with a multi-brand approach. Mrs Kelly’s comments come amid criticism for lacking a bold strategy to tackle the pressures of rising funding costs. However the paper reports Mrs Kelly has rejected these suggestions and says, Westpac is engaged in a transformation, from a product-centric to a customer-centric organisation. Westpac earned a $6.4 billion net profit in fiscal 2010.
Yesterday shares in BHP Billiton Ltd (ASX:BHP) ended 0.76 per cent higher at $43.80. Global miner BHP has launched legal action against iron ore junior miner FerrAus Ltd (ASX:FRS), in a bid to protect its use of its main line on the Pilbara rail system in Western Australia. Just yesterday BHP and Atlas Iron Ltd (ASX:AGO) announced they are negotiating a deal to allow Atlas to access another one of BHP’s routes, the Goldsworthy rail line in the Pilbara. BHP’s legal action against FerrAus is aimed at preventing the company to appoint an independent expert to determine the terms of a haulage contract between the two miners. BHP Billiton recorded a net profit of $15.26 billion in the 2010 financial year.
To ex-dividends: No companies are going ex-dividend today, but coming on Monday are Count Financial, Novarise, Redflex Holdings, Supply Network, Solco and SP AusNet.
To commodities: The price of gold is up $US16.10 to $US1353 an ounce for the December contract on Comex, silver is up $US1.32 to $26.83 and copper is up $0.10 at $3.83 a pound. The price of oil is up $1.41 to $US81.85 a barrel for December light crude in New York.
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