And so concludes another edition of Markets Live. Thanks for reading and comment, we hope to see you again tomorrow at 8.30am.
Coming to the end of our markets blog for today, here's what you need to know this evening:
- The ASX200 had another strong day, rising 0.75%
- The dollar is slightly lower, buying $US1.0279, 96.8 yen and 77.87 euro cents
- Japan's Nikkei is rallying, up 2.25%; Shanghai has gained 0.55%
- Spot gold is up 0.3% at $US1586, WTI crude oil flat at $US93
- Wall Street futures are minimally higher, FTSE100 futures are up 0.25%
- 'Enthusiastic' new chief buys Ten shares
- Beach soars on Chevron exploration deal
- Qantas director resigns over Italian link
- Growth in China's factory sector pulls back
- QBE refuses to rule out job cuts
- RBA assistant governor (financial markets) Guy Debelle to address Breakfast at the University of Adelaide Business School
- Computershare chief executive Stuart Crosby to address American Chamber of Commerce lunch
- Flight Centre; exp net profit: $103.2 million
- Atlas Iron: $24.5 million
- Jetset Travelworld: $12.70 million
- Slater & Gordon: $20.50 million
- QBE Insurance: $110.72 million (second half)
- Ramsay Health Care: $140.33 million
- Seven Group Holdings: $145.80 million
- Virgin Australia: $65.47 million
- Transfield Services: $12.30 million
All profit expectations are consensus estimates, courtesy of S&P Capital IQ.
It's been a good start to the week despite the miners struggling, Suncorp financial markets analyst Darryl Conroy says:
- It was certainly a good start to the week given how flat the materials sector has been for the last few trading days, so given the second largest sector is down, not a bad start at all.
- Consumer staples are potentially a bit of a safe haven with dollar spend fairly locked in.
Looks like Westpac is experiencing some major issues with its banking systems, with customers complaining they can't access their accounts, both online and in branches:
@redtfox Hi Travis, sorry to hear this. We are having some system issues. Our team is working on a fix as we speak. ~Spencer— Westpac Bank (@Westpac) February 25, 2013
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey says a coalition government would compensate businesses affected by the abolition of the carbon tax on a case-by-case basis.
Many Australian businesses involved in clean energy and other sectors are benefiting from the price on carbon dioxide emissions, which will move to an emissions trading scheme in 2015.
However, Mr Hockey told reporters in Launceston today the cost of the carbon tax on households and business was ‘‘far greater than any money that is coming out of Canberra to compensate individual businesses’’.
And the winners and losers among the top 200:
- NRW Holding: +7.8%
- Senex Energy: +7.5%
- Ten Network: +6.8%
- Macquarie Atlas: -5.2%
- Medusa Mining: -4%
- Buru Energy: -3.9%
Here's how some of the blue chips fared today:
- BHP: +0.1%
- Rio: -0.9%
- ANZ: +1.1%
- CBA: +0.3%
- NAB: +1.5%
- Westpac: +1.7%
- Woolies: +1.3%
- Wesfarmers: +2.1% - highest since June 2007
- Telstra: +1.1%
Earnings of EnergyAustralia, which incorporates the TruEnergy business, slumped by 42.1 per cent to $HK1685 million in 2012, amid a slowdown in demand across the board.
The fall in profits was led by a 10 per cent slump in Victoria and weak wholesale electricity prices.
China Light and Power, which owns the EnergyAustralia, told investors earlier today it does not expect to boost substantially investment in Australia in the present climate.
Formerly known in Australia as TruEnergy the company last year shelved plans to list shares in Australia due to the poor market condition.
"I do not envisage substantial investment in new assets or projects in Australia, with the exception of a limited amount of wind generating capacity and possible participation in the planned privatisation by the NSW Government of its remaining interests in State-owned power generation assets," the group's chief executive, Andrew Brandler, said.
Consumer discretionary and consumer staples led the gains, rising 1.7 and 1.6 per cent respectively. Financials and energy both added 0.9 per cent, while materials slipped 0.2 per cent.
Liquidator Ian Struthers has agreed to a three-year ban after the corporate watchdog found he failed to properly account for expenses, lodge paperwork and keep track of meetings for 45 liquidations.
In an enforceable undertaking the Sydney-based liquidator admitted he ‘‘failed to carry out or perform adequately and properly the duties of a liquidator.’’
Meanwhile the registration of Melbourne-based liquidator Paul Anthony Pattison was cancelled following last year’s declaration he was bankrupt.
Investigations by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission also led to a ban on Mr Pattison managing corporations for four years, because he was the sole director of three companies owing $4.7 million.
Mr Pattison ran Pattison Consulting and Pattisons Business Recovery & Insolvency Specialists.
The sharemarket has closed higher. The S&P/ASX200 jumped 37.7 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 5055.8, taking the benchmark index within 40 points of Wednesday's close, before the sell-off on Thursday. The broader All Ords rose 36 points, or 0.7 per cnt, to 5072.7.
News Ltd has reacted to speculation it's keen on buying Ten Network:
“Much of today’s reporting and commentary is conspiratorial, highly fanciful and wrong. News Limited has no plans to acquire Channel Ten.
“News is opposed to the imposition of additional tests for media ownership, not least because massive increases in media diversity, and the extensive pro-competition and pro-diversity powers held by the ACCC and ACMA render them entirely unnecessary.
“Furthermore, as has been demonstrated overseas, such tests are subjective, vague and imprecise, difficult to interpret and wide open to political interference.”
Have you been following the Oscars? There've been lots of words written about the frocks of the ladies - but this year it looks like the guys have stepped up their game.
Executive Style has looked at how the blokes fared on the red carpet, with a bit of commentary on the hits and misses.
Paul Krugman has warned in his latest op-ed that Italy's election - where PM Mario Monti is lagging in the polls behind disgraced former PM Silvio Berlusconi - could provide "a foretaste of dangerous radicalisation in Europe."
"Italy isn’t unique," Krugman writes, "disreputable politicians are on the rise all across Southern Europe. And the reason this is happening is that respectable Europeans won’t admit that the policies they have imposed on debtors are a disastrous failure."
It went from looking like a great day to just a good day on the Australian sharemarket after the underwhelming Chinese manufacturing data dissipated some of the earlier buying momentum, CMC Markets trader Tim Waterer says:
- Undoubtedly the materials sector suffered a setback today on the release of the Chinese data and with some of the big miners reversing course the broader market slipped from the session highs.
- However, materials weakness was more than offset by strength in other segments of the market with the banking and retail stocks enjoying a positive outing today courtesy of strong offshore leads.
- Risk assets from around the globe will take their cues from the Fed chairman's testimony before Congress this week, with a key point of interest being whether his testimony is singularly supportive of continuing asset purchases or whether his tone reflects the assortment of opinion contained in the most recent Fed Minutes.
After recently cutting jobs to save costs, accounting firm WHK Group is considering a $320 million merger proposal from wealth management firm SFG Australia.
As it posted a 22 per cent fall in first half profit, WHK received an indicative offer from SFG that could create a merged entity with more than $17 billion in funds under management.
SFG, an advisor to the wealthy, has been in talks with WHK, an accountant for small businesses and high worth individuals, since October 2012.
The suitor has proposed a share-based merger that would leave WHK shareholders with a 42 per cent interest in a newly merged business.SFG’s offer implies a value of almost $1.21 for each WHK share, above their previous closing price of $1.06.
With just under an hour of trade left in the day, here's the best and worst performers amongst the ASX's top 50 companies:
Asian stocks are buoyed by speculation the next Bank of Japan governor will deploy aggressive monetary easing, traders say.
‘‘Reports on the BoJ are clearly signalling the central bank is ready to ease aggressively,’’ says Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer of Allianz Global Investors Japan. ‘‘Things are positive for Japanese stocks, but you want to bear in mind that you may see overseas uncertainty increase depending on the outcome of the Italian election.’’
The Nikkei is up nearly 2 per cent.
Japanese shares are rallying. Photo: Reuters
Motorists have been hit with rising fuel prices over the past few months, said CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian.
- In fact in the past week the national average petrol price breeched $1.50 and is now holding at the highest levels April 2012. The global economy is healing; investors believe that means more demand for oil; and as a result oil prices have recorded significant gains over the past couple of months.
- It is not just that motorists have been hit with higher fuel prices but the extent of the rise is the key concern. The national average price has risen by a staggering 13 cents a litre in just the past seven weeks – marking the biggest lift in fuel prices in over 4 years.
- Retailers need to watch petrol price trends closely. Petrol is the single biggest purchase for most households, and even those without a car will feel the pain through higher delivery costs, higher transport fares and increases in prices of goods with a high transport component such as fruit & vegetables, meat and seafood. The average household monthly fuel bill has risen by $16 to $183 since early January. A further lift in fuel prices could cause consumers to become more fearful and cautious about spending, especially on discretionary or non-essential items.
Here's a quick snapshot of markets around the region:
- Nikkei(Japan): +2%
- Shanghai: +0.6%
- Taiwan: flat
- South Korea: flat
- Singapore: +0.1%
- New Zealand: +0.3%
New Ten chief Hamish McLennan has apparently shown his faith in the struggling television network, buying 3.13 million Ten shares.
“As I indicated in the statement to market on Friday regarding my appointment, I believe Ten is a great business. As a sign of my enthusiasm for Ten, I have personally invested in the company. I look forward to sharing in the future success of Ten,” said Mr McLennan in a statement to the ASX.
The US-based Chevron became the latest in a string of oil majors that have decided to invest in Australian shale, announcing today that it has bought interest in two gas blocks in the Cooper Basin from Beach Energy.
Chevron said it will initially acquire a 30 per cent working interest in block PEL 218 in South Australia, and 18 per cent working interest in block ATP 855 in Queensland. The deal gives Chevron the option of later increasing its interest in PEL 218 to 60 per cent and the interest in ATP 855 to 36 per cent.
Beach Energy will receive up to $349 million over two stages spanning several years for interest in the two gas blocks, Beach Energy said in a statement.
Shares are up 6.6 per cent to $1.38.
Options Xpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said the local bourse surged ahead today as traders focused on positive sentiment, globally and domestically.
‘‘There would have to be some doubts and fears about the Italian election as it stands at the moment, but it certainly doesn’t appear that we’re focusing on that in the Asian region,’’ Mr Le Brun said.
‘‘We just seem to have ridden along on the coat tails of good sentiment in the Asian region.’’
Power sector investor Spark Infrastructure has flagged a hike in the payout for 2013 as it continues to hunt for expansion opportunities after failing to acquire the lease over a desalination plant in NSW.
The 2013 dividend forecast has been raised to 11c a share from the 10.5c declared for 2012, with the final dividend of 5.25c to be paid next month.
Earlier today, Spark declared a 2012 net profit of $185 million up from the loss of $47.9 million for 2011 which reflected hedging and actuarial losses.
Before extraordinary items, the net profit for 2012 was $173.8 million up from $82.6 million in 2011, with the year earlier earnings hit by a $49 million charge following the decision to internalise its management.
A bit more on the China PMI data. The HSBC flash purchasing managers' index (PMI) for February slipped to 50.4, the lowest in four months and down from January's final reading of 52.3, which had been the best showing since January 2011.
The flash PMI is the earliest indicator of China's economic health in any month and should not alter expectations that the world's No. 2 economy is enjoying a gentle recovery, a welcome development for the country's new leaders who take office in March.
"The underlying strength of the Chinese growth recovery remains intact, as indicated by still expanding employment and the recent pick-up of credit growth," said Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC.
In line with recent trends, the flash PMI showed demand for Chinese exports teetered in February. The new export orders sub-index inched down to 49.8, a hair's breadth from the 50-point mark separating expanding activity from contraction on a monthly basis.
The Aussie dollar has taken a tumble on the HSBC flash manufacturing PMI for China. The Aussie fell from $US1.0298 just before the release to $US1.0265 as investors bet that weakness in China's factories could raises the chance of another rate cut.
Chinese PMI data is a big miss on expectations.50.4 VS 52.2 #ASX200 should see some selling in materials & resources space #ausbiz — Ben Le Brun (@benlebrun) February 25, 2013
Here's a quick look at the best and worst performers on the ASX200 so far today:
According the the Wall Street Journal, new Ten chief Hamish McLennan's connection to News Corp increase the chances of Ten being taken over by News Corp before the company demerges in June.
WSJ cites a CLSA analyst report which upgraded Ten to buy from underperform.
However, the ACCC may have something to say about any proposed takeover, having often thwarted takeovers and mergers which would put control of free-to-air and cable television products under one owner.
More on Caltex, the company has flagged a significant freeing up of capital once the Kurnell refinery is closed, since this will remove the need for around $75 million of ongoing capital spending undertaken at the refinery annually in recent years.
Additionally, around half of the crude oil imports are sourced from either west or north Africa, requiring several weeks at sea.
Following Kurnell's closure in 2014, the bulk of the crude oil and refined oil product will be sourced from Asia, which requires only several days of shipping, and hence ties up significantly less capital for long periods of time, which will provide a further source of capital, the company told analysts this morning.
Shares are up 2.7 per cent to $18.725.
In an ironic twist of events, iron-ore magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest is fighting attempts to exploit the mineral wealth under his own cattle station in the Pilbara.
Mr Forrest, 51, founder and executive chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, is suing to block attempts to search for uranium on his Minderoo Station and last month failed in an attempt to halt sand mining on the property.
Minderoo was established in 1878 by his great, great uncle, Sir John Forrest, first premier of Western Australia, and his brothers Alexander and David.
In his younger days, Mr Forrest worked as a jackaroo on the family property, but it was sold in 1998 to repay debts. He bought it back in 2009.
Banks are making bigger profits from writing new mortgages today than at any time since 2004, putting intense pressure on lenders to cut interest rates independently of the Reserve Bank, new research argues.
With recent earnings results showing strong profit growth from home lending, UBS analysts have predicted pressure from rivals and politicians will unleash ‘‘out-of-cycle’’ mortgage rate cuts.
UBS bank analyst Jonathan Mott, the report’s author, argued banks were generating 88 basis points of profit on a typical mortgage - equal to 88 cents a year for every $100 in mortgage debt.
It is the biggest margin since the UBS estimates begin in 2004, and represents a rapid improvement from a year ago when Mr Mott said the banks were probably losing money on new home loans
But with bank share prices surging more than 15 per cent in the last three months, many in the market are wondering whether the growth is sustainable.
Britain's banks could need tens of billions of pounds more capital as part of a crackdown on internal risk models that are deterring investors and undermining efforts to shield the global financial system from future shocks.
The Financial Services Authority has been assessing how lenders calculate the riskiness of their mortgages and other loans to make sure they are setting aside enough money to cover potential losses.
The FSA has stepped up that scrutiny in the past two months, banking sources said, as part of a wider trend in Europe towards standardising guidelines on how banks should calculate the riskiness of loans amid concern some are gaming their internal models to flatter their financial health.
The issue is controversial. A large jump in capital requirements for the likes of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, and Royal Bank of Scotland, could further choke off the supply of credit, hurting the economy.
Batten down the hatches. Tropical cyclone Rusty is expected to slam this week into the north-western coast of Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of iron ore, threatening to cut exports and flood mines.
Rusty was upgraded to a category two cyclone overnight and is 315 kilometers (196 miles) north of Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export terminal, the Bureau of Meteorology said on its website at 5:48 a.m. western standard time.
The Pilbara, where most of Australia’s iron ore is mined, is home to BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals' mines, ports and rail lines. Port Hedland expects to close the port today after the last vessel sails, the port authority said in an e-mailed statement.
Mixed returns among the big miners in early trade:
- BHP is 0.12% higher to $36.91
- Rio is 0.48% lower to $66.40
- Fortescue is 1% higher to $4.88
And now for the early sliders on the ASX200:
- Mirabela Nickel: -3.66%
- Macquarie Atlas: -3.21%
- Sandfire Resources: -3.04%
- Medusa Mining: -2.9%
- Suncorp: -2.47% (ex-div)
- Southern Cross Media: -2.36%
- Amcor: -1.91% (ex-div)
A look now at the best-performed stocks on the ASX200:
- Senex: +10%
- Beach Energy: +8.11%
- Ten: +6.78%
- NRW Holdings: +6.34%
- FKP Property: +5.9%
- Alumina: +4.24%
IG Markets broker Chris Weston said investors were continuing to chase high yielding stocks as the Italian elections were making them risk averse.
‘‘There’s a little bit of hesitation to put any sort of sizeable trades considering the risk in what’s going to happen in the Italian election tonight,’’ he said.
‘‘But that sort of thing reinforces the yield play and because an Italian election doesn’t really affect the safe haven of a yield play.’’
US stocks closed higher on Friday on renewed confidence that the US Federal Reserve stimulus program will continue.
Shares in Intrepid Mines have edged lower this morning, despite the buoyant market, as the court case against the company by its former joint venture partner Paul Willis kicks off in a Jakarta courtroom.
Willis originally introduced Intrepid to the giant Tujuh Bukit gold and copper project in Java, an asset which appears to have been controversially lost by the company after a dispute between Intrepid and its Indonesian partners last year. An Indonesia company in which funds management group Provident also controls a large stake now claims ownership.
Intrepid has said the Willis case is baseless and without foundation. Willis claims he was placed under duress in April 2008 to sign over his interest in the venture.
Michael Pascoe has taken a look at the decision by the Ten board to remove James Warburton. He writes that Ten will soon have its fifth CEO in two years and there's "no indication that the broadcaster has a clue about how it might climb out of its governance, ratings and financial pit":
Warburton was Lachlan Murdoch's personal pick, thus his ditching after a bare year in the job suggests that even he thinks the appointment hasn't worked out. But many of Warburton's problems were not of his making – they were put in train by his immediate predecessor, Lachlan Murdoch himself.
The market likes the removal Ten CEO James Warburton. Ten Network Holdings shares are up in early trade as market players express hope that new management may improve the struggling free-to-air broadcaster’s performance.
Ten was up 2.75 cents, or 9.32 per cent, at 32.25 cents.In percentage terms, Ten was the second-best performing stock on the S&P/ASX200, according to IRESS data.
‘‘Where you have a company performing poorly, and in particular where that performance involves a poor competitive performance - not doing well against its peer group - in those circumstances, the market often will attribute that to management problems,’’ CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said on Monday.
‘‘News of a change in management carries the potential for an improvement in performance.’’
Sector by sector on the ASX200:
- Info tech: +1.34%
- Consumer staples: +0.73%
- Health: 0.69%
- Consumer disc: +0.68%
- Utilities: +0.64%
- Financials: +0.58%
- Materials: -0.34%
Spark Infrastructure has reported a net profit of $173.9 million for the 2012 financial year, a 4.1 per cent increase from the year before, on the back of strong results from SA Power networks, and CitiPower and Powercor.
The utility owner declared a final dividend of 5.25 cents per share for the 2012 year. Total regulated revenue rose 12.8 per cent to $1.6 billion.
"Despite a challenging business environment with soft electricity sales volumes, the asset companies have again demonstrated the strength and quality of their operations," Spark Infrastructure managing director Rick Francis said.
"The cashflows being generated by the asset companies are sufficient to simultaneously fund the substantial equity portion of their capital expenditure plans, to de-gear their balance sheets and to make distributions to their shareholders, without the need for any new equity before 2015."
One of the country's savviest investors, Geoff Wilson, is in no doubt that we are finally in a bull equities market.
"A new bull market has commenced in Australia with the local index trading at the highest level in 4.5 years," shareholders of one of his listed investment companies, WAM Research, were told when it released December half earnings this morning to the market.
"The market has risen over 24 per cent since June. Interest rates near 50 year lows in Australia are stimulating the economy. The stock market is a leading indicator of economic activity. It is currently forecasting a pickup in company earnings in late 2013."
Patties Food has reported a net profit of $9.1 million for the six months to December, a fall of 16.5 per cent from the previous corresponding period.
The frozen foods supplier, which makes Four' N Twenty pies and produces the Nanna's and Herbert Adams brands, declared a fully franked dividend of 3.2 cents per share.
"This half year result reflects the challenging trading conditions, particularly in the In Home channel," Patties Food chairman Chris Riordan said.
"Our response must continue to be a relentless focus on supporting and enhancing our brands, developing new channels and regions and improving our manufacturing and supply chain efficiencies as part of an overall ongoing review of our cost structure."
The company reported an underlying net profit of $9.5 million, down 12.7 per cent from the same period the year before, on the back of a a one-off bad debt expense resulting from the administration of Australian Convenience Foods.
The Australian share market has opened a third of a per cent higher.
At 10.10am AEDT on Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index is 16.9 points, or 0.34 per cent, at 5035.0, while the broader All Ordinaries index is up 16.2 points, or 0.32 per cent, at 5052.9.
On the ASX 24, the March share price index futures contract was up 22 points at 5,015, with 8,624 contracts traded.
The HSBC flash manufacturing PMI for China for February is due out at 12.45pm. A Bloomberg survey expects the result to come in at 52.2, a slight weakening from last month when it landed at 52.3.
With the Nikkei expected to fly & #USD stronger across the board, should #china #pmi gauge print ok, it'll be 'risk on' across #Asia today — David Scutt (@David_Scutt) February 24, 2013
Qantas non-executive director Corinne Namblard has resigned from the airline's board after being caught up in an investigation into a corruption scandal in Italy.
Qantas chairman Leigh Clifford said Ms Namblard resigned "in the best interests of both Qantas and herself".
"Ms Namblard was especially concerned to ensure that the continuing media focus on the current Italian proceedings did not distract Qantas from implementing its strategic imperatives nor detract from the achievements that Qantas has had in meeting the challenges to its business. The Qantas Board appreciates those sentiments," Mr Clifford said in a statement to the ASX this morning.
Here's something that ought to trigger a bit of debate in the comments section. As Nicole Linday reports:
Home buyers turned out in force over the weekend delivering a strong pass mark to the first test of the pre-Easter season. Agents and buyer advocates cited low interest rates and pent-up demand as some of the elements drawing buyers back into the market after two years of lacklustre results and falling prices.
Melbourne's clearance rate of 73 per cent was achieved against a bumper crop of 903 auctions. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria said 541 properties were sold on the day, while 116 were sold before auction. Sydney’s rate was 76.2 per cent, Australian Property Monitors reported.
As the week progresses, we're likely to hear more about Washington and the spending cuts which kick in on Friday if the pollies there can't agree on what form they should take.
As reported here, talks on the US budget crisis began again last week leading up to the March 1 deadline for the so-called sequestration when $US85 billion in automatic federal spending cuts are scheduled to take effect.
"It's at this point a political hot button in Washington but a very low level investor concern," said Fred Dickson, chief market strategist at DA Davidson & Co in Lake Oswego, Oregon.
The fight pits President Barack Obama and fellow Democrats against congressional Republicans.
Also in the US this week, the latest data on fourth-quarter US gross domestic product is expected on Thursday, and some analysts predict an upward revision following trade data that showed America's deficit shrank in December to its narrowest in nearly three years.
US GDP unexpectedly contracted in the fourth quarter, according to an earlier government estimate, but analysts said there was no reason for panic, given that consumer spending and business investment picked up.
Patersons Securities strategist Tony Farnham said the Australian share market is expected to start the week on a positive note on the back of what happened on US and European markets on Friday.
The earnings season would still be watched closely by the market this week, especially the results of companies such as Harvey Norman, he said.
"People will be trying to get a measure of whether the interest-rate sensitive parts of our economy are getting a kicker from all those RBA rate cuts that have occurred since November 2011," Mr Farnham said.
A key economic indicator for the Reserve Bank ahead of its March board meeting next week would be the capital expenditure numbers released on Thursday - in particular, the expectation numbers for the rest of this year and for fiscal year 2014.
"Why it is important is because if it is quite disappointing, you would have to think that it shortens the odds of the RBA cutting again in March," Mr Farnham said.
International issues are also set to weigh on the minds of investors this week. Italians are voting for the second day in an election that could affect the stability of the eurozone, while US Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is set to testify on monetary policy on Tuesday US time.
Also key is the sequester dateline on Friday, Mr Farnham said, which will see a raft of automatic spending cuts kick in if US politicians fail to reach a compromise on deficit reduction and tax increases.
The Aussie dollar is holding steady against the US dollar, but is near record highs against the yen and the pound. Against the yen, the local unit was trading at 97.19, just short of the 97.34 it hit in early February, a four and a half year high.
And against the British pound:
Aussie dollar nears 28-year high against British pound. Now 68.29 pence. Recent high 68.69 pence in Feb 15 2012.^CJ— CommSec (@CommSec) February 24, 2013
Looking ahead to the rest of the week, here's a snapshot of what we have in store. For a full calendar of the week's business and finance events, click here:
- Monday: No major economics news. Caltex, Patties and IOOF results.
- Tuesday: Transfield, QBE, Whitehaven, Flight Centre and Virgin results. RBA assistant governor Guy Debelle addresses University of Adelaide.
- Wednesday: Slater & Gordon, AGL, James Hardie, Westfield and Wotif results. ABS construction work done for Dec quarter.
- Thursday: ABS private new capital expenditure for December quarter. Challenger, Harvey Norman, Treasury Wine Estates and Woolworths results.
- Friday: The Ai Group performance of manufacturing (PMI) index for February, HIA trades report for the December Quarter, RBA index of commodity prices for February
Kicking off the week with earnings, Caltex Australia has returned to the black, posting a net profit of $57 million for 2012, a reversal from the loss of $714 million posted in 2011 – even after making a large provision for the closure of its Kurnell refinery.
Revenue rose to $23.3 billion from $22.1 billion. In 2012, Caltex booked a $309 million provision for the closure of Kurnell, while in 2011 it took a $1.1 billion write-down in the value of this asset.
Despite the profit, Caltex has cut the final dividend to 23 cents from 28 cents a share, taking the annual payout to 40 cents down from 45 cents, after deciding to cut to 20 per cent from 40 per cent the dividend payout ratio following the decision to close Kurnell.
For a comprehensive look at this morning’s business news, check today’s need2know. Here are this morning’s key markets numbers:
- SPI futures are 21 points higher at 5014
- The $A is steady at $US1.0304
- US stocks climb on Fed, HP result
- European stocks rebound on strong German data
- China iron ore lost $US2.60 to $US153.60 a metric tonne
- Australian Finance calendar: February 25-March 1
- Wall Street week ahead: Washington deadline looms