Australian shares ended the day slightly in front after early gains were wiped as investors ran out of reasons to buy, with miners the biggest drag on the market.

5.26pm: And that's it for today. Join us again tomorrow at 9.30am.

5.20pm: BREAKING Television is reporting that Nine's lenders have agreed to a deal to save the company

5.14pm: More on Channel Nine and today's marathon talks with lenders. Nine is not out of the woods yet by any means with Mr Gyngell saying negotiations will reconvene tomorrow and ‘‘I think we’ll have some sort of outcome to discuss’’ whether good or bad.

5.11pm: European stock index futures are pointing to a higher open later on, with stocks poised to extend the previous session's rebound, as worries over the earnings season and global economy eased.

Futures for Euro STOXX 50, for Germany's DAX and for France's CAC were all up 0.7 per cent.

5.10pm: Tokyo stocks closed 1.44 per cent higher, tracking gains on Wall Street and as shares in Softbank surged after it confirmed a $US20 billion ($A19.59 billion) takeover of US-based Sprint Nextel.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed up 123.38 points to 8701.31, while the broader Topix index rose 1.30 per cent, or 9.41 points, to 732.40.

5.06pm: Futures for London's FTSE 100 are up 0.6%. In the US, futures for the Dow Jones and S&P500 index are up between 0.1% and 0.2%.

4.48pm: EXCLUSIVE Nine Entertainment boss David Gyngell said he is ‘‘quietly optimistic’’ after leaving marathon negotiations today to decide the future of the media group.

Nine called the meeting this morning to get its lenders to agree to a deal that will see them share ownership of Nine with the majority stake going to senior lenders lead by US hedge funds Oaktree Capital and Apollo Global Management.

Failure to reach a deal will force Nine’s directors to pull the plug on the business, although it won’t force the television network itself to pull the plug on viewers who will still be be able to see their favourite shows whatever the outcome.

Nine will not be deprived of its inspirational leader either. Mr Gyngell confirmed to BusinessDay he will remain with Nine even if the board is forced to put the company  into administration.

Mr Gyngell said negotiations will reconvene tomorrow and ‘‘I think we’ll have some sort of outcome to discuss’’.

‘‘It’s been a vigiourous debate around valuation,’’ Mr Gyngell said.

more to come

4.45pm: Among the blue chips the big miners did worst, with Rio down more than 1 per cent, despite coming back late in the day after it announced record iron ore production figures. Fortescue was ahead, as it talked up its stalled expansion plans, and the big banks all ended the day in positive territory too:

  • BHP was 0.84% lower at $33.07
  • Rio Tinto was 1.25% lower at $55.12
  • Fortescue was 3.49% higher at $3.85
  • Commonwealth Bank was 0.28% higher at $57.09
  • ANZ was 0.08 higher at $25.79
  • NAB was 1.06% higher at $26.62
  • Westpac was 0.12% higher at $25.72

4.35pm: The worst-performing stocks on the ASX200 include:

  • Medusa Mining: -6.94%
  • Goodman Fielder: -4.55%
  • Billabong: -4.49%
  • Ten Network: -4.29%
  • APN News & Media: -2.56%

4.32pm: Among the best-performing stocks on the ASX200 were:

  • Lend Lease: +4.15%
  • Fortescue: +3.49%
  • Leighton: +3.01%
  • Fairfax: +2.60%
  • QBE: +2.45%

4.29pm: The worst performing sectors on the ASX200 were Materials - down 0.49% and Energy - down 0.21%.

4.28pm: Better news for Perseus Mining, which has continued to prosper in the notoriously risky West African sector, passing the 12-month mark since it started production at its gold mine in Ghana.

The miner’s latest production result showed gold production of 52,610 ounces for the September quarter, in line with the June quarter but four per cent under its  forecast production range.

It blamed slightly lower grades while it faced mechanical problems with its primary crusher during the September quarter at its flagship Edikan mine in Ghana.

Perseus’ shares were one cent lower at $2.76 on Tuesday.

4.26pm: BREAKING. Australia’s biggest brewer Lion has been hit by sluggish earnings growth, discounting and intense competition in its dairy division, forcing its Japanese conglomerate owner Kirin to issue a profit warning which sent its shares plunging on the Tokyo stock exchange.

The earnings disappointment is further proof of a worsening market for dairy producers in Australia following the introduction of $1 per litre milk by the leading supermarket chains nearly two years ago.

Kirin shares fell more than 3 per cent when the conglomerate announced its annual sales would reach around ¥2.3 trillion by 2015, significantly lower than an earlier projection of ¥3 trillion.

The blame was laid squarely at the feet of its Australian diary operations, which sit under its Lion subsidiary.

4.24pm: The best performing sectors for the day were:

  • Information technology: +1.23%
  • Consumer disctretionaries: +0.58%
  • Industrials: + 0.46
  • Finance: +0.45%

4.17pm: Shares have finished up for the day, even if only slightly, with the All Ordinaries index ending 8.4 points higher, or 0.2 per cent, to 4513.9, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 gained 8.1 points higher, or 0.2 per cent, to 4491.5.

3.55pm: More on Rio Tinto. Shares in the miner have picked up a bit after it maintained its 2012 production guidance at 250 million tonnes. They are now at $55.21 - down 1.1% on the day, but up from a lunchtime low of $54.77.

Chief Executive Tom Albanese was optimistic.  ‘‘Markets remain volatile, but our business is resilient and our operations are performing strongly,’’ he said.

3.28pm: As many of you will know, the minutes for the RBA board meeting came out today, here's what CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian had to say about it:

  • The decision to cut interest rates by quarter of a per cent in October seems to have been more clear cut than markets previously thought. The latest Board minutes suggest the Reserve Bank seems to have a target rate in mind for interest rates over the medium term. In the past the Reserve Bank would cut interest rates and wait to see the impact on the economy. However this time round the minutes make clear reference to the fact that “it was too early to see the full effects of earlier reductions in the interest rates” yet members decided that a further rate cut was necessary.
  • The low inflation environment ensured that Board members did not have to wait to see the full impact of previous rate cuts. They have been afforded the luxury of knowing that inflation looks well contained.
  • It is clear that rate cuts are not having the same impact that they would have in the past. In fact the sluggishness in the domestic economy has been more a crisis of confidence rather than a significant structural downturn. Even the minutes made reference to the fact “the desire of households to pay down their debts ahead of schedule”. In effect the rate cut was not going to send the economy into overdrive, rather it was a case of kick-starting confidence. 

3.14pm: The world’s second largest iron ore miner Rio Tinto increased iron ore production by 5 per cent in the September quarter to 67 million tonnes.

The result included record quarterly Western Australian Pilbara ion ore production of 63 million tonnes, also a five per cent lift.

Shares clawed back some earlier losses but were still down 1.1 per cent for the day

3.12pm: BusinessDay's Michael West has filed: 'Open Season' for litigation funders.

The law courts will be teeming with shysters and slick jalopy salesmen now. Watch those freshly struck-off financial planners descend like jackals. There'll be bikie gangs, book-makers and blokes in dark sunnies and cheap suits everywhere.

Now the High Court has ruled you don't need a licence to be a litigation funder, it's open season for any old knave.

That's the worst-case scenario, admittedly a little overstated, of the High Court judgment in the matter International Litigation Partners v Chameleon Mining earlier this month – that is, that a litigation funder does not need a financial services licence.

3.00pm: Shares in drug developer Biotron have jumped nearly 60 per cent after the company announced the results of a follow-up to its clinical trial of its drug to treat hepatitis C.

Biotron was 5.4 cents, or 59.34 per cent, higher at 14.5 cents, after going as high as 18.5 cents.

Biotron today said that it had followed up patients who had participated in a phase II trial of its hepatitis C drug BIT225 last year.

The company said that 48 weeks after the trial, 100 per cent of the patients who had been received a 400mg dose of the drug in conjunction with standard anti-viral drugs during the trial were virus-free.

Eighty seven and a half per cent of patients who received 200mg of BIT225 in addition to standard anti-viral drugs were virus-free.

2.51pm: Ten continues to lose ground today, down another 4.3 per cent, to 33.5 cents. 

Ten may be suffering from deteriorating sentiment in the broker community with JP Morgan's media analysts saying:

"Ten, based on recent main channel weakness and the overall networks ratings decline, we see downside risk to Ten's 2013 financial year consensus earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA)". 

Reporting on the wider media sector, Citi analysts report got worse in the third quarter and said there are no signs of growth into November/December. 

And from Commonwealth Bank research: Downside earnings risk potential applies to most domestic media names including FXJ, APN, TEN, SWM and SXL, and highlights our continuing preference for NWS over the domestic media names. 

2.32pm:  Crude is trading mixed this afternoon with global economic concerns putting a lid on prices which were supported by tighter European Union sanctions against Iran, analysts say.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for November delivery has shed 22 cents to $US91.63 a barrel while Brent North Sea crude for November delivery has added six cents to $US115.86.

Crude is "holding relatively steady" as fresh Iranian sanctions tussled with global economic worries for traders' attention, says Victor Shum, senior principal of Purvin and Gertz energy consultants in Singapore.

"We have concerns about the economy, in particular Europe exerting downward pressure, but supporting oil are the tighter sanctions on Iran from the EU," he says.

2.25pm: It's the mining sector that's the biggest drag on the market this afternoon. The miners are down 0.8 per cent - while financials are among the biggest winners - up 0.7 per cent.

2.18pm: Australia’s largest pharmacy retailer Chemist Warehouse has been found to have breached advertising standards in promoting a prescription-only cholesterol drug as free of charge - but has not been penalised.

It’s understood the Therapeutic Goods Administration found the advertisements could be judged as advertising a prescription medicine, which is illegal.

Chemist Warehouse, which has been increasing market share through aggressive pricing, declined to comment. But the regulator said it had accepted Chemist Warehouse’s undertakings to comply with advertising obligations, and it would be ‘‘monitoring any further complaints’’.

‘‘Any further breach or non-compliance will result in investigation with appropriate regulatory action if required,’’ the TGA told BusinessDay.

The ads, stating ‘Generic Lipitor now available from $0’, ran in early June this year, shortly after Australia’s most prescribed medication, Pfizer’s Lipitor, went off patent and generics were fighting for a slice of the enormous cholesterol drug market. 

2.12pm: Defence has appointed a private sector information technology expert as its next chief information officer.

Peter Lawrence, group manager IT Energy Markets at Origin Energy, will replace Greg Farr who has done the job for the past five years but did not seek re-appointment for personal reasons.

Dr Lawrence was selected from a highly-competitive field of public and private sector candidates, Defence says.

He brings to the job 20 years’ experience in planning, implementing and managing technology across a wide range of businesses and business functions on a local, regional and global basis.

2.07pm: Cleaners have protested outside the Sydney head office of the Commonwealth Bank, demanding pay rises for those working in shopping centres owned and managed by the bank.

Their union, United Voice, says the bank is responsible for ensuring contractors engaged at the more than 30 shopping centres pay cleaners a decent wage.

A spokeswoman for the Commonwealth Bank says it did not directly employ any of the cleaners involved in the dispute. She says Colonial First State Global Asset Management - a part of the Commonwealth Bank Group - managed the centres on behalf of investors.

The cleaners were employed by ‘‘reputable cleaning companies’’, she says.

2.01pm: Japanese mobile carrier Softbank has soared 10 per cent in Tokyo trade as investors pile back into a stock that has been pounded since news of its $US20 billion takeover of Sprint Nextel emerged.

The shares are 10.05 per cent higher at 2496 yen ($31.69). The ambitious cross-ocean marriage would see Softbank acquire 70 per cent of Sprint Nextel, the third-biggest US mobile firm behind AT&T and Verizon Wireless, by the middle of next year.

Investors dumped the shares on Friday as Softbank confirmed its talks with Sprint.

1.55pm: Perseus Mining has continued to prosper in the notoriously risky West African sector, passing the 12-month mark since it started production at its gold mine in Ghana.

The miner’s latest production result showed gold production of 52,610 ounces for the September quarter, in line with the June quarter but four per cent under its  forecast production range.

It blamed slightly lower grades while it faced mechanical problems with its primary crusher during the September quarter at its flagship Edikan mine in Ghana.

Perseus’ shares are 0.5 cent weaker at $2.765.

1.20pm: Following the Fortescue's news, Rio Tinto is also expected to release production data later today. The world's No.2 iron ore miner is expected to stick to plans to raise production in Australia.

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Tom Albanese recently told an investment seminar the company's operations were performing better than those of peers, leading analysts to expect it was sticking to 2012 production guidance of 250 million tonnes. Last year Rio Tinto mined 244.6 million tonnes.

1.08pm: BusinessDay's Malcolm Maiden reckon's there's not much in the RBA's October 2 minutes "to change the market's perception of where rates are headed":

The Reserve sees this economy expanding, but expanding a bit more slowly than it had earlier expected. It's got the ammo it needs to do something about it, because its still managing a cash rate that can be cut. It will watch now to see if the October cut and earlier ones begin to bite. Full story.

12.55pm: CBA economists have also taken a look at the RBA's minutes and have made the following observations:

The RBA look to have downgraded their domestic growth forecasts for the next year, making the case for lower rates.

One new theme in the minutes is that the looming growth “pothole” which follows the mining capex peak may not be as deep or as wide as current thinking has it ... Therefore, there is less urgency on the non‑mining part of the economy to pick up the load as the mining construction boom passes through

A “new development” in the minutes was the mention of the risk of lower tax receipts, as a result of slower growth and lower commodity prices. The desire for a Budget surplus means that fiscal policy could be tighter than expected over the coming year, which could dampen domestic growth outcomes.

12.49pm: RBC fixed income strategist Michael Turner said the RBA’s comments "fleshed out ... a not particularly upbeat view of the mining sector":

"Some of the comments are probably a little bit more suggestive of them being a little bit more concerned than we might have known before.’’

Mr Turner said he predicted the central bank would cut its interest in November, which was in line with what the futures market expected. Interest rate futures say there's an 84 per cent chance of a 25 basis point rate cut in November.

‘‘We think they’ll take a pause after that. It’ll be three per cent by then and we think the rate will be cut to 2.75 per cent some time in the first quarter of 2013.’’

12.41pm: The ASX200 is trading near a 14-month high despite falling back in recent trade. It's currently trading at 4492, but has risen as high as 4516.9, the highest since 1 August last year when the ASX200 touched 4517.4.

12.32pm: Here's why Fortescue has been performing well today - up 2.15 per cent while the other big miners are down.

Fortescue reported that first-quarter shipments rose 26 per cent, beating analyst expectations, as production expanded. Shipments were 15.4 million metric tons in the three months ended Sept. 30, from 12.2 million tons a year ago, Perth-based Fortescue announced. That compares with a 14.6 million ton estimate from four analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

12.27pm: More here on Cochlear. Cochlear was rebuked on executive pay this morning, with more than 30 per cent of shareholders voting against its remuneration report and the long-term incentive plan for CEO Chris Roberts.

This means it has received its first "strike" over executive pay, under the government's "two-strikes" rule. If Cochlear receives a "no" vote of more than 25 per cent year, a motion to spill the board will be put to shareholders, which must receive more than 50 per cent of the votes to success. A spill meeting must then be held within 90 days. 

12.20pm: You will find all of this year's AGM news here - a special index we've created for coverage of general meetings. Already added today: Cochlear, Telstra, and a story on directors facing two strikes.

12.16pm: Cochlear is the first company this AGM season to get a strike over its pay to executives, leading to an apology from chairman Rick Holliday-Smith. More on this shortly.

12.08pm: Personal finance loans fell by 3.3 per cent in August, official figures show.

The ABS says personal finance commitments, seasonally-adjusted, dropped to $7.220 billion in August, from a downwardly revised $7.469 billion in July. Total commercial loans in June fell 5.2 per cent to $27.591 billion, seasonally-adjusted, from $29.098 billion in July.

Lease finance was down 5.1 per cent to $528 million, compared with $556 million the previous month. Housing finance for owner occupiers rose 1.3 per cent to $13.647 billion, from $13.477 billion the month before.

12.02pm: Stocks, meanwhile, continue to climb. The ASX200 is now up 28.8 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 4512.2.

The dollar had a boost from the RBA's minutes, rising from $US1.0246 to $US1.0271. It's now at $US1.0262.

11.54am: News Corp chief Rupert Murdoch, still coping with a phone-hacking scandal that erupted at the company’s UK papers last year, faces renewed calls from shareholders today to step down as chairman, Bloomberg reports.

Investors have mounted a campaign to separate the chairman and CEO roles - both held by Murdoch - to increase accountability. They’re pushing shareholders to vote for the proposal at today’s annual meeting at Fox Studios in Los Angeles.

While efforts to split the two jobs were unsuccessful at last year’s meeting and aren’t limited to News Corp, Murdoch’s handling of the scandal gives fresh ammunition to proponents such as Christian Brothers Investment Services.

“An independent voice is needed, and Rupert is certainly not independent,” says Julie Tanner, director of socially responsible investing for New York-based Christian Brothers Investment Services.

11.48am: The RBA, meanwhile, has released the minutes of its monetary policy meeting earlier this month where it cuts its cash rate by 25 basis points:

  • The central bank cut its interest rate for the fifth time in 12 months in response to weaker commodity prices and a reduction in investment by mining companies.
  • The minutes show there were concerns about a noticeable decline in the appetite for spending by Australian resource companies.
  • ‘‘Notwithstanding the expectation of some recovery in prices of bulk commodities over the coming quarters, it seemed likely that mining investment would peak a little earlier and at a somewhat lower level than had previously been forecast,’’ the minutes say.

11.45am: Here's an analysis of business class pricing on domestic air travel by Tony Webber, formerly Qantas' chief economist:

While domestic business class fares in Australia are currently at levels not seen for more than a decade, these fares are purchased by a very small proportion of the air travelling public, reflecting the small percentage of seats in the domestic air market that are allocated to business class.

More here. 

11.38am: Japanese shares are up 0.65 per cent in early trade after a solid performance on major international markets overnight, as bright US indicators and a softer yen cheered investors.

The Nikkei index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange has added 55.75 points to 8633.68. The Topix index of all first section shares has risen 0.72 per cent or 5.20 points to 728.19.

The surge in the Nikkei has been driven by gains on Wall Street and European markets as well as a slightly weaker yen, analysts say.

11.27am: Possibly the last word from Lucy Battersby at the Telstra AGM:

11.19am: Resources writer Peter Ker reports on Rio and its ongoing battle with the Mongolian government over the proceeds of the Oyu Tolgai mine. The pollies want a bigger share ... again:

Barely a year after a strikingly similar impasse was played out, the Rio Tinto subsidiary in charge of Oyu Tolgoi this morning confirmed that it had rejected another request to renegotiate the investment agreement that underpins development of the massive copper and gold mine. Full story.

11.13am: It seems Telstra shareholders are happy with the current management:

11.04am: While the majority of blue chips are higher, the big miners are languishing. Commonwealth Securities market analyst Juliana Roadley says resources stocks are continuing to face pressure ahead of Chinese data on industrial production due out later this week. The materials sub index is down 0.18 per cent.

‘‘You have the nervous holding back because of falling commodity prices,’’ Ms Roadley said.

BHP shares are 0.33 % lower to 33.24, Rio shares are 0.66% lower, and Newcrest shares are down 0.48%. Fortescue, on the other hand, has added 2.55 per cent.

10.58am: Telstra is not the only high-profile company holdings its AGM today. Cochlear is also fronting up and has defended the executive pay practices that have been opposed by some its shareholders.

As Cochlear shareholders met in Sydney, the Australian Shareholders' Association (ASA) voted against the awarding of share options worth more than $1 million to chief executive Chris Roberts under a long-term incentive plan.

Chairman Rick Holliday-Smith told the annual general meeting the board was disappointed some shareholders would vote against the remuneration decisions.

"We had to consider the best way to retain, redirect and motivate our teams and whether that should involve STI (short-term incentive), LTI (long-term incentive) or both," he said.

"We decided to use STI as an important tool. But for LTI, that operates over a longer period of time, to leave it the same as it has been since its introduction in 2003." Full story.

10.54am: Something for the beginners out there. If you've been thinking of investing in the sharemarket for the first time, but are afraid of getting your fingers burnt, this 'how to' story is well worth a read.

10.50am: Shares are touching new highs for the day. The All Ords is currently 29.1 points higher, or 0.7 per cent, and the ASX200 is 30.1 points higher, or 0.7 per cent.

10.46am: Back to the retailers for a sec. Wesfarmers, Australia’s second biggest retailer, is seeking institutional partners to co-invest in about $700 million of shopping centers held by its Coles unit.

The Perth-based company wants to finalize its real estate strategy by the end of 2012, said Simon Rooney, Sydney-based head of Australian retail investments at broker Jones Lang LaSalle, which is advising Wesfarmers. The group is seeking investments in about 25 malls, he said.

Competitor Woolworths this month said it plans to spin off 69 stores and shopping malls worth A$1.41 billion into a real estate investment trust and offer existing investors shares in the new trust.

10.43am: The big banks are also in line with, or ahead of, the general market:

  • CBA is 0.65% higher to $57.30
  • ANZ is 0.7% higher to $25.95
  • NAB is 1.18% higher to $26.65
  • Westpac is 0.86% higher to $25.91

10.40am: JB and Pacific Brands aren't the only retailers having a good day. However, some are doing better than others:

  • Wesfarmers: +1.61%
  • Woolworths: +0.38%
  • Harvey Norman: +1.27%
  • DJs: +0.19%
  • Westfield: +0.05%
  • Myer: +0.66%

10.35am: As the Telstra news starts flowing in, you can also share your thoughts on Twitter. Just use the hashtag #Telstra and we'll see your tweets popping up here:

10.31am: Now for the early sliders on the ASX200. Gold stocks appear out of favour, down almost 1 per cent, after gold fell the most in three months amid concern that the global economy is slowing and China may refrain from additional economic stimulus:

  • St Barbara: -3.54%
  • Medusa Mining: -3.40%
  • Troy: -3.37%
  • Gryphon Minerals: -1.72%
  • Alacer Gold Corp: -1.61%
  • Billabong: -1.28%

10.29am: More on Telstra:

10.25am: Here are the best performed companies on the ASX200 in early trade. Some retailers in here, perhaps enjoying a bit of a bounce following the good US retail sales data overnight:

  • NRW Holdings: +4.90%
  • Mirabela Nickel: +4.88%
  • Senex Energy: +4.32%
  • Linc Energy: +3.61%
  • Pacific Brands: +3.51%
  • Ten: +2.86%
  • JB Hi Fi: +2.52%

10.22am: Gains on the ASX200 are above 0.6 per cent now. More from the Telstra AGM:

10.19am: All sub indices on the ASX200 but utilities (-0.05) are higher:

  • Info tech: +1.18%
  • Health: +0.93%
  • Industrials: +0.89%
  • Consumer staples: +0.81%
  • Financials: +0.8%
  • Consumer disc.: +0.61%

10.14am:  The Australian share market has opened nearly half a per cent higher. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 19.8 points, or 0.44 per cent, at 4,503.2, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 18.8 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 4,524.3.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was up 19 points at 4,500, with 5,996 contracts traded.

10.12am: Here's Lucy Battersby from the Telstra AGM. You can follow her here:

10.06am: Early take - Stocks higher early. Up about 0.2 pe cent as markets open.

9.55am: Ric Spooner at CMC Markets says this morning that the US retails sales result will be welcomed by local investors. He says investors will be ‘‘encouraged to see good growth in the September retail sales figures backing up a strong August number’’.

This suggests improved consumer confidence following QE3 and the ECB initiatives to reduce the risks posed by high Spanish bond yields.

The improved US retail sales figures follow a display of strength by local consumers and business with yesterday’s better than expected motor vehicle sales.

The S&P/ASX 200 index could test last week’s high at 4512 today. While a move above this level would be a positive for confidence, traders may want to see a clear break above this level and not just a minor breach. The local market is also likely to remain cautious in the lead up to the release of China’s September quarter GDP.

9.50am: Some analys rating changes from late yesterday:

  • Evolution Mining cut to 'underperform' at Credit Suisse
  • Santos raised to 'outperform' at Credit Suisse
  • Oil Seaerch cut to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse
  • Newcrest Mining raised to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse
  • PanAust cut to 'underperform' at Credit Suisse

9.46am: China iron ore has eased for a third session. The bulk commodity lost $US1.50 to $US113. The big miners were mixed in US trade. BHP added 0.12 per cent while Rio lost 0.86 per cent.

9.43am: The other major local news item today is the wheeling and dealing going to save Nine. We don't really have a timeline for any announcements from the broadcaster, but principal stakeholders are meeting this morning for what could be the last attempt to keep the media group out of administration.

We'll be keeping a close on the situation and will report and developments as they arise.

Meantime, here's an article from Liz Knight on what's at stake.

9.39am: One more note on the US retail sales. Electronics dealers showed a 4.5 per cent jump in sales, the biggest gain since October 2011. Apple’s iPhone 5 started selling on September 21 in the US and more than 5 million units sold in the first three days, surpassing a record set last year by the previous model.

Non-store retailers, which include online merchants, may have also benefited from demand for the new device, leading to a 1.8 percent gain in receipts.

9.38am: Here’s a bit more on the US retail sales data from overnight. Americans stepped up purchases of everything in September from cars to electronics, a sign that consumer spending is driving faster economic growth.

The Commerce Department reported a 1.1 per cent increase in retail sales during September. The reading, which beat analysts' forecasts, builds on other signs of growing economic momentum, including a drop in the jobless rate last month and a rise in consumer confidence.

9.35am: First bit of news out of the Telstra AGM. The company expects its dividend payments to remain flat in the current financial year despite forecasting earnings and income growth.

Telstra paid 28 cents per share in dividends in the 2011/12 financial year, as its profit rose by 5.4 per cent from the previous 12 months to $3.4 billion.

Chairman Catherine Livingstone told shareholders at the telco’s annual general meeting that they would receive 28 cents per share in dividends in 2012/13.

‘‘I can confirm it is the board’s intention to pay a fully-franked dividend of 28 cents per share in fiscal 2013, subject to the normal approval process  and there being no unexpected material events,’’ she told the meeting in Melbourne.

9.32am: We've got a busy day ahead, kicking off this morning with the Telstra AGM. Telco reporter Lucy Battersby is there and will be sending through any quotable quotes as they arise. We've also got the RBA minutes at 11.30am, the Cochlear AGM, updates from Rio and Fortescue and, of course, we're keeping a close eye on developments at Nine.

For a comprehensive look at this morning’s business news, check today’s need2know. Here are this morning’s key market links:

  • SPI futures are 30 points higher at 4411
  • The $A is higher at $US1.0252
  • In the US, the S&P500 rose 0.81% to 1440.14
  • In Europe, the FTSE100 rose 0.21% to 5805.61
  • Gold fell $21.20 to $US1738.50 an ounce
  • WTI crude oil fell 15 cents to $US91.71 a barrel
  • Reuters/Jefferies CRB index is down 0.75% at 306.55

9.30am: Good morning folks. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Tuesday.

Contributors: Thomas Hunter, Peter Litras, Jens Meyer, Richard Hughes

This blog is not intended as investment advice

BusinessDay with agencies