We're doing a late update to let you know New Zealand has had its credit rating outlook upped to "positive" at Fitch.
That means it is still double-A but with an optimistic bias. Previously it was double-A with a stable outlook.
That's it for Markets Live today.
Thanks for reading and for your comments.
See you again at 9 tomorrow.
Shares drifted lower as local data showed that while business conditions and sentiment improved again in June, consumer confidence continued to soften in the wake of federal budget cuts announced in May.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.2 per cent to 5510.9 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index eased 0.1 per cent to 5498.5 points on Tuesday, as BHP Billiton and the big four banks all receded.
Local shares dipped 0.3 per cent when the session opened after taking a weak lead from offshore. Wall St drifted lower on Monday night as, in the absence of any major news out of the United States, a weaker than expected industrial production report in Germany pulled European markets lower. Major markets around Asia were lower in the afternoon session.
The Australian dollar jumped after business confidence data showed an unexpected improvement, and analysts tipped the currency could receive a boost from Japan’s moves to unleash its $1.3 trillion pension vault on global markets.
A National Australia Bank business survey found business confidence bumped up one point in June, despite the federal government’s tough May budget and weak consumer confidence.
The Aussie dollar jumped just shy of US94¢ immediately after the release of the data, and hovered just beneath for most of the day. In the afternoon session on Tuesday it was trading at US93.85¢.
Business confidence has been steadily rising since January, with conditions improving for all industries. The construction sector surged and service industries remained the best performer. Manufacturing and wholesale were weakest.
Australian dollar Tuesday trading
As Indonesians head to the polls on Wednesday, market strategists are tipping a much-needed boon for the nation’s sharemarket if presidential hopeful Jakarta governor Joko Widodo is elected.
The Jakarta Composite Index (JCI) was trading 1 per cent higher on Tuesday afternoon. It has lifted 3.3 per cent since July 1, buoyed by foreign investors flocking to the market as exit polls tip an increasing chance that Jakarta governor Mr Widodo will win the vote.
Over the past year, Indonesia was the worst-performing equity market in Asia, while India delivered the strongest returns. But the JCI has risen 16 per cent since January 1 as Mr Widodo, considered by most economists as the more market-friendly candidate, has risen in popularity with voters.
But opinion polls released in the past week suggest Mr Widodo and main rival Prabowo Subianto, who last week won the endorsement of incumbent Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, are now neck-and-neck. Polls earlier in the year gave Mr Widodo a substantial lead.
The country’s largest infrastructure manager, IFM Investors, will seek to boost investment by Japanese pension funds in Australia as part of talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s delegation in Canberra on Tuesday.
IFM chief executive Brett Himbury says the funds management giant wants to tap the shift among Japanese pension funds to globalise their asset allocation and expand into infrastructure.
“We are looking to entice Japanese capital out of the country as they seek to diversify the portfolios of their massive pension fund system, which is the second biggest in the world,” Mr Himbury, who oversees the firm’s $52 billion in assets under management, says.
The S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 8 points or 0.14 per cent, posting its second consecutive decline.
Winners and losers
Cardinal George Pell is expected to announce a restructure of the Vatican bank that will see the scandal plagued institution spin off its investment activities and focus on payment services for the Roman Catholic Church, according to reports.
Vatican sources said Cardinal Pell - who was appointed earlier this year to one of the Vatican's most senior roles, Prefect for the Economy of the Holy See - will announce the changes on Wednesday.
Cardinal Pell is responsible for management and reform of the Vatican's sprawling administration and finances, reporting directly to the Pope Francis.
Fresh from his Mediterranean break, James Packer was almost the same colour as the dark maroon tie he wore to Parliament House on Tuesday to hear an address from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
His attendance was no accident.
Mr Packer will be following the Australian and Japanese prime ministers to Perth on Wednesday where Tony Abbott will be hosting Mr Abe at the billionaire's Perth casino.
Just before Christmas, Mr Packer's Asian casino venture, Melco Crown, pledged to spend $10 million on "cultural projects" in Japan in partnership with Tokyo's University of the Arts.
"Melco really wants to do something to help contribute to cultural development in Japan," a spokeswoman for the company had said.
Mr Abe has introduced legislation to lift the country's ban on casinos as part of a planned build-up to Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, and Mr Packer’s casino group is one of many operators aggressively lobbying for access.
James Packer Photo: Rob Homer
You don't have to enjoy baseball to appreciate this column from Billy Beane at the Wall Street Journal.
He explains the data revolution that will change the way we play and watch sports.
"Technology will transform the social fabric of sport," says Beane.
Over at The Australian Financial Review, Jonathan Shapiro has profiled new hedge fund Auscap Asset Management. Here's why you should take notice:
"It’s the sort of performance any new hedge fund manager would kill for. Since Auscap Asset Management opened its doors on December 3, 2012, it has climbed 74 per cent since inception and more than 45 per cent in the year ended June 30.
But the odds weren’t in the favour of Matt Parker and Tim Carleton when they founded Auscap after Goldman Sachs’s Sydney proprietary trading unit closed in 2011.
Globally, Goldman prop-desk alumni have had a mixed record going out on their own.
But for 38-year-old Parker and Carleton, 33, the transition from investing capital for the bank to running their own fund has been relatively seamless."
Poker machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure has successfully raised $375 million from fund managers to fund the $1.4 billion acquisition of American rival Video Gaming Technologies.
The Sydney-based company on Tuesday said that the share placement was oversubscribed at a price of $5.26 a share. The pokies maker will also conduct a share purchase plan for retail investors, and Ainsworth family shareholders, which will be capped at $60 million.
Shares in Sydney biotechnology company Pharmaxis have plunged more than 20 per cent in a few hours after the company revealed that a $US20 million ($21 million) payment was at risk.
The payment is from financier NovaQuest Capital Management, who have alleged Pharmaxis has breached its funding deal.
The news could be the killer blow for the embattled drug developer, which is still reeling from a regulatory knockback last year that sent its main drug Bronchitol back to the laboratory bench for further clinical trials.
Investors fled the Sydney-based biotechnology company on Tuesday, with shares down 21 per cent or 1.6¢, to 6.1¢ at 11:34am AEDT. The plunge takes Pharmaxis’s fall over the past 12 months to 58 per cent.
Euroz shares are responding positively to its preliminary earnings results, up 6.15 per cent.
Net profit more than doubled, to $26.5 million, and the company will pay a fully-franked final dividend of 9 cents a share. The interim dividend was only 1.75 cents, representing a big increase for the second-half payout.
RBC Capital markets has upgraded Aurizon Holdings to outperform from sector perform declaring that it is on the path to becoming a world class rail company.
Price target: $5.50 a share.
"A comparison with the speed of Canadian Pacific's similar transition is a timely reminder of the inherent upside," the broker says, referring to peer Canadian Pacific. "Extrapolating AZJ's revenue line using CP's forecast operating metrics, AZJ's implied PE multiples fall by 20-30 per cent."
Morgan Stanley has upgraded its industry view on the building materials sector to attractive, along with recommendation upgrades for Boral and CSR (up strongly today).
It is a bit less concerned about headwinds and deems that house prices and house construction numbers have stabilised.
Morgan Stanley view on building materials sector
Citigroup has posed four key questions around ANZ Banking Group's Asia strategy, asserting that it is yet to reward investors.
"1. Can ANZ convert superior Asian GDP growth into share price performance and EPS growth?"
"2. Can ANZ achieve a 16% group ROE target if APEA is growing its relative contribution?"
"3. Can ANZ sustain its “high 60s” dividend payout ratio and achieve its “APEA@25%” target?"
"4. Will ANZ fall foul of the growth in Asian trade finance?"
Citigroup also warns that if ANZ is to meet its target for 25 per cent of group earnings from Asia, "it will require significantly more capital".
Here's a snapshot of how the All Ords are going today.
All Ords winners and losers
Banks could lose sole responsibility for setting the gold price benchmark under new rules proposed by the industry.
Other parties such as miners and refiners may enter the London gold fix, which has been controlled by banks for almost a century but has come under scrutiny following allegations that the system is open to manipulation.
At a summit held by the World Gold Council (WGC) on Monday, regulators, banks and investors convened to discuss options for the fix, the gold price benchmark that influences trading in the precious metal.
The fix is currently decided twice a day by four banks – HSBC, Barclays, Scotiabank and Societe Generale – who reach a consensus based on submissions from each party.
Here's some analysis from columnist Phil Baker on what the next half has in store for investors:
"The local sharemarket is up almost 9 per cent from its 2014 low in February but just 3 per cent for the year.
Over the past six months investors have spent a lot of time worrying about cold weather in the US, earnings, what the Federal Reserve will do, China, valuations, consumer sentiment after the budget, interest rates and the Australian dollar.
Of course it’s important to examine the issues that have the worrywarts on alert but what if something good happens?
Is there anything out there that could help stocks in the second half of this year?
Macolm Wood from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has come up with a list of six catalysts that could send the sharemarket higher.
He is advising clients to be overweight shares, both here and offshore, but underweight bonds, the safe haven asset class.
In no particular order he cites the possibility of the US economy firing on all cylinders without the support of the Fed, further signs of stabilisation in China, the Reserve Bank of Australia cutting interest rates, more liquidity support from both Japan and the European Central Bank, a stronger US dollar and signs of an upswing in business confidence."
Elders chief executive Mark Allison has confirmed that a number of interested parties have been looking at the company, but says no formal offer has been put to the board and he is focused on day-to-day operations rather than any potential sale.
The Australian dollar bounced on the stronger than expected outcome from the NAB business survey.
Here's some analysis from ANZ:
"The NAB measure of business conditions was surprisingly strong in June, recording a solid rise with strength in trading conditions and profitability offsetting a modest weakening in the employment component... Business confidence improved in June and has remained resilient, despite the sharp falls recorded in consumer confidence in response to the federal budget. In part, this likely reflects that many of measures flagged in the budget directly impacted households."
Australian dollar on Tuesday
National Australia Bank sees faster global growth in its forecast for 2015 and 2016 to 3.7 per cent on the back of the US recovery and a pick-up in long-time under-performing economies India and the euro-zone. This year's forecast is for growth of 3.2 per cent.
Its Australia forecasts are unchanged so it still expects GDP growth of 3.3 per cent for 2014-15 and 3 per cent for 2015-16.
"On rates our judgement is that the risks of a further easing has risen but so far hasn’t satisfied the high hurdle necessary to get the RBA to do anything about it," NAB says. No change in rates before a hike in late 2015.
Key NAB forecasts
It appears that shareholders of Expedia in the United States are not exactly jubilant following its acquisition of Wotif.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch over in the US has characterised Wotif's revenue growth and hotel bookings as "not inspiring" and notes some investors would have preferred Expedia bought back its own shares with the capital. The purchase price also "seems rich given Wotif’s sluggish growth profile".
Nonetheless, BAML takes a favourable view on the exposure to Asia that Wotif brings.
"The success or failure on this acquisition will likely be dependent on Expedia’s ability to grow the brand, and drive additional bookings at Expedia/Hotels.com with additional hotel supply," the broker says.
Professional investors are no longer bracing for further volatility in emerging markets - many are hoping for it.
The prospect of tapering by the world’s biggest central bank is likely to create more opportunities to buy into high-growth parts of areas such as China and India, according to a growing number of investment experts.
“Asia remains a value asset and while an end to volatility-supressing central bank policy will take some absorbing, fundamentals have improved significantly over the past three quarters,” said Asia Pacific investment bank CIMB analyst Jason Todd said in a note to investors. He added that he expects Asian equities to return a combined 19 per cent in the 2014 financial year.
G8 Education has added 19 centres to its growing portfolio in a $25.7 million deal that takes its total childcare places to just under 30,000.
The Gold Coast-based business said the acquisition, announced on Tuesday, was valued at 3.9-times earnings before interest and tax in the 12 months following settlement.
Shares in the $1.4 billion company have increased in value by 91 per cent in the past year. The stock closed at $4.60 on Monday.
Barclays has stuck to its guns on Fortescue Metals Group, staying overweight. Make up your own mind but here's the thinking behind the recommendation:
"Lower iron ore prices (and consequently a lower share price) would increase the risk/reward for FMG," the broker says.
Barclays points to the following "under-appreciated" factors which could help the share price:
Currency: "a [5 cent] change in the $A/$US rate would impact NPV by 13 per cent, on our estimates";
Shipping costs: "a 200-point change in the BDI could change NPV by 7 per cent";
State royalties: "a reduction in royalty costs could cushion the impact of pricing by 6 per cent";
Grades: The grade discount has overshot and "now appear due for a small reversal"
And here's the only line that matters: "On the balance sheet, we do not see much risk unless iron ore remains at $US85/t or less for five years out to 2019."
Fortescue impact of commodity price on valuation
Should Flight Centre investors be nervous about the takeover of Wotif by Expedia?
Deutsche Bank analysis says that because Wotif is in the accommodation business it is not really encroaching on Flight Centre's core offering of well, flights. DB has a buy on Flight Centre.
The broker was not overly concerned by the weak May departures numbers released on Monday as a result of the timing of Easter, saying: "We expect June departure data will be stronger before weakening for a few months to reflect the softness in bookings driven by weaker sentiment stemming from the budget."
As you can see, Flight Centre shares had a rough day yesterday on seemingly a double-blow.
Flight Centre shares, past 30 days
The S&P/ASX 200 Index has opened a fraction lower, down less than 0.1 of a per cent.
Winners and losers at the open
Morgan Stanley has upgraded Alumina to overweight, making it probably the most bullish broker in the market. It is a rare "double upgrade" - shooting from underweight straight to the top recommendation with an emphasis on a recovery in the alumina price.
Critically 2015 - 2018 alumina price estimates have been upgraded by as much as 18 per cent because of supply issues for bauxite.
MS sees a robust net cash position from this financial year onwards.
Morgan Stanley has run the numbers on the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal. Here's some findings:
MS thinks the financial impact is "modest".
"We see some risk that reputational damage leads to more modest wealth management revenue growth. However, this division accounts for just around 9 per cent of operating earnings, so our EPS view would be lowered by only around 0.5 per cent if we halved our revenue growth forecast," the broker says.
The broker sources media reports for a compensation figure of around $250 million which is equivalent to 5 basis points of tier one capital or 0.1 per cent of the bank's market value.
MS is more worried about a sector re-rating than the financial planning scandal.
"We don’t expect CBA’s financial planning problems, in isolation, will have a lasting impact on the share price. We see macro weakness and more onerous regulatory requirements as the primary sources of de-rating risk."
Here's one for our loyal reader who requested some info on the most important commodity for the Australian economy.
The iron ore price closed at $US95.90 a tonne on Monday, down 0.62 per cent.
Iron ore price over 12 months
The Australian dollar is higher after the greenback lost some of its strength.
At 07.00am AEST on Tuesday, the local currency was trading at 93.73 US cents, up from 93.57 cents on Monday.
The US dollar has been on a high since non-farm payrolls came in much stronger than expected last week.
But the greenback drifted lower overnight, lending support to the Aussie dollar.
"With no new news flow and fatigued investors, who are now waiting for more definitive signs that something will happen on the central bank front, there was a lot of drift overnight," National Australia Bank senior currency strategist Emma Lawson said.
Discount variety retailer The Reject Shop has appointed a former beer and grocery industry executive, Ross Sudano, as chief executive, filling the void left by the departure of Chris Bryce last month.
Some highlights from The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk column:
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has threatened to target industry super funds if the Senate behaves as expected and throws out regulations watering down protection for consumers of financial advice.
Senator Cormann said he had ''no plan B'' and without the regulations the previous Labor government's Future of Financial Advice laws would stand as written.
Defeat seems all but certain after mining magnate Clive Palmer on Monday said his Palmer United Party, which shares the balance of power in the Senate, would vote against the Abbott government's ''ill-considered'' regulations ''where advisers can act in their own interests or not in the best interests of their client''.
Updated to reflect latest futures pricing:
Local stocks are set to open little changed ahead of the latest business and consumer confidence reports.
What you need2know:
SPI futures are down 4 points or 0.1 per cent
AUD at 93.73 US cents On Wall St, S&P 500 -0.4pc, Dow -0.3pc, Nasdaq -0.8pc
In Europe, Euro Stoxx 50 -1.2%, FTSE -0.6%, CAC -1.4%, DAX -1%
Spot gold down 78 US cents to $US1319.77 an ounce
Brent oil down 61 US cents to $US110.03 per barrel
What’s on today Australia: ANZ Roy Morgan weekly consumer confidence index; NAB June business confidence conditions;
UK: May industrial production;
US: May consumer credit.