Australian shares end sharply higher with solid gains across the board.

4.40pm: That's all for our markets live blog for today, we'll be back tomorrow from 9.30am.

For a full wrap of today's session, click here.

4.35pm: Here's some more prices for companies in the news today: Stockland ended down 3.7 per cent to $3.42, Ten slumped 7.5 per cent to 31 cents and Tabcorp gained 1.4 per cent to $2.93.

4.29pm: Coopers Brewery, which this year became the largest Australian owned brewer, has generated a 17.5 per cent lift in full-year profit on the back of continued strong demand for its portfolio of beers and six months of earnings contributions from its recently acquired home brewing business in the United States, Eli Greenblat reports.

The Adelaide-based and family owned Coopers easily trounced the flat-lining earnings faced by its much larger global brewer competitors, such as Japanese conglomerate Kirin which owns Australia’s biggest beer company Lion, and SABMiller owner of iconic brewer Foster’s.

4.21pm: Here's how some of the bigger companies performed:

BHP + 1.1% to $33.45
Rio Tinto + 1.7% to $56.05
Fortescue + 5.7% to $4.07
Telstra + 2% to $4.02
ANZ +0.7% to $25.96
CBA - 0.2% to $56.99
NAB + 0.6% to $26.79
Westpac + 0.7% to $25.89

4.16pm: Among the sectors, the miners ended up about 1.6 per cent, financials gained 0.5 per cent, industrials were 1.5 per cent higher and energy stocks rose 0.9 per cent.

4.11pm: Here's an early snapshot of the market's closing numbers: the ASX200 has ended the day up 36.7 points, or 0.8 per cent, at 4528.2 - just 8 points off its session high.

4.03pm: Asian markets have been boosted by increased confidence in the eurozone after Moody's held off cutting Spain's credit rating, while Madrid looks to move closer to asking for a bailout.

A successful bond auction for Greece added to the sense of optimism, while the euro maintained its gains seen in late trade Tuesday as investors sought out riskier assets.

Tokyo has jumped 1.33 per cent, Hong Kong has risen 0.82 per cent, Seoul is 0.83 per cent higher while Shanghai has lost 0.18 per cent. 

3.55pm: Here's more from Marius Kloppers in Brisbane... BHP Billiton’s boss says Queensland’s coal industry is unlikely to expand further until issues such as royalties, taxes and declining productivity are tackled.

He says cost pressures and a high Australian dollar are putting a brake on investment plans in Australia’s largest coal producing state following a rapid decrease in coal prices. He also says it is difficult to envisage further incremental capital investment in both energy coal and metallurgical coal in Queensland until issues affecting competitiveness were addressed.

‘‘While our resource base in Queensland is very high quality, the heavy cost of taxes, royalties, declining productivity and a strong Australian dollar means that further investment to grow these operations is much less likely,’’ Mr Kloppers has told the Brisbane Mining Club.

3.47pm: Australian businesses remain more confident than their counterparts in the US, UK or China despite speculation that the mining boom may have ended.

The Regus Business Confidence Index shows confidence among Australian businesses has increased slightly over the past six months, despite a fall in global confidence.Australian business confidence was at 116 points on the index in October, up two points since April.

This is despite global business confidence falling to 111 points, from 113 points in April. There has also been a sharp fall in commodity prices since July, which has stoked fears Australia’s boom times might be over.

3.38pm: Shares in Fairfax - the publisher of this blog - have hit another low, falling to 37 cents. The stock is now down 4.6 per cent to 37.7 cents.

3.25pm: Heading toward the close and the markets have held up well all day. With just over half an hour to go the the All Ordinaries index is 39.5  points higher, or 0.9 per cent, to 4553.4, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 39.4 points higher, or 0.9 per cent, to 4530.9.

3.17pm: Woodside would have been cheered by the news out of Singapore, where resources minister Martin Ferguson said Australia anticipates a decision on the development of gas resources under the Timor Sea within the next year.

"Clearly we're looking to move toward some decisions over the next 12 months or so," Mr Ferguson said.

"Timor-Leste and Australia freely entered into a treaty some years ago. We will honour the treaty, we expect Timor-Leste to do the same."

Woodside and East Timor have been stuck in a sometimes bitter debate on how to develop the Greater Sunrise gas fields for years.

The ABC said yesterday that a Timorese government lawyer was lobbying officials in Canberra and had said Timor could "easily find a new partner" to develop the gas.

3.02pm: MORE ON NINE BusinessDay's Malcolm Maiden writes:

The deal is a big win for hedge funds and other investors including US funds Oaktree and Apollo, which bought Nine's senior debt off original bank lenders as steep discounts ... The biggest winner is probably Oaktree. it is believed to have begun buying the senior debt at 40 cents in the dollar. When Nine is eventually sold on or floated, as is inevitable, the full value of the senior debt is likely to be retrieved. 

2.55pm: MORE ON NINE AAP reports: Nine Entertainment has avoided administration, with its lenders taking control of the company after reaching a deal over its $3.3 billion debt.

A relieved-looking David Gyngell emerged from a meeting of creditors in Sydney to announce that ‘‘there is a deal’’ and the company, owner of the Nine Network, is now debt-free. "We have a fully capitalised business,'' he said. "All those doomsayers out there are going to have to eat their words. We have never had a more powerful balance sheet. We are ready to rock and roll for next year.’’

Nine owed $2.3 billion to US hedge funds Apollo and Oaktree and a further $1 billion to investment bank Goldman Sachs.

Each lender has taken a stake in the company in return for its debt, with the hedge funds taking the largest share.

2.52pm: STILL BREAKING More on Nine and Businessday's Colin Kruger writes: Nine Entertainment has been saved from administration after its warring lenders agreed to a deal this afternoon.

A deal has been brokered that will remove all of the $3.2 billion debt which threatened the media group’s viability. Instead the lenders responsible for this debt will take ownership of Nine.

Senior lenders will own a 95.5 per cent stake in Nine and the Goldman Sachs-lead Mezzanine lenders, who faced losing the entire $1 billion they had invested in second-ranked debt, will receive a 4.5 per cent stake valued at around $100 million.

2.49pm: BREAKING More on Nine and the deal that has apparently been done. Nine boss David Gyngell is being quoted as saying: "We've never had a more powerful balance sheet ... we're ready to rock and roll for the next year"

2.48pm: Retiring CSL boss Brian McNamee has been praised as one of Australia’s finest chief executives, as he addressed his last annual general meeting of the blood products and vaccines supplier.

Don Hyatt from the Australian Shareholders Association said Dr McNamee ‘‘could rightly claim to be one of the most successful CEOs currently serving in Australia’’.

Another shareholder said brilliance and persistence were the best ways to describe Dr McNamee. ‘‘He did once, at a very critical time for the company, run this company from his hospital bed,’’ the shareholder said.

Dr McNamee said he could look forward to something new when he finishes at CSL. ‘‘A change, I think, will be good for me and good for the company,’’ he said.

Dr McNamee said he would not rule anything in or out.‘‘I think it would be hard to find a better CEO job than CSL so I don’t think I’ll try to replicate what I’ve done here, but you never know.’’

2.40pm: BREAKING We're getting unconfirmed reports that a deal has been done on Nine's debt.

2.26pm: BHP boss Marius Kloppers says Australia's poor productivity rates will be shown up by the coming era of lower commodity prices,

Mr Kloppers told a function in Brisbane that productivity was the best indicator of long-term wealth in a society, and that Australia's rates had been declining since the late 1990's in an inverse relationship to the mining boom.

"This should be a concern for all of us, because as markets revert to more sustainable levels, our relative competitiveness will be the key to maintaining the economic advantage our resources endowment naturally provides," he said.

Read the full story here

2.12pm: There's been a lift in Chinese steel output. Average daily crude steel output rebounded to 1.916 million tonnes in the first 10 days of October, up 4 per cent from September 21-30, according to data out today from the China Iron & Steel Association.

Average daily steel production has been below 1.9 million tonnes since mid-August as weak demand in the world's top steel producer and consumer pushed steel mills to curb output. 

2.04pm: Container shipments data is revealing that manufacturers are moving production out of China to other South-East Asian countries where costs can be kept down.

South-East Asian container shipments to the US and Europe have risen as much as 10 per cent, as production moves from China because of lower costs, according to cargo-booking technology provider Inttra.

Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are among Southeast Asian countries to have benefited from trade shifts as they ramp up production of consumer goods and of components that are shipped to other countries for final assembly.

Low-cost manufacturers have moved from China because the yuan has strengthened about 7 per cent against the dollar in the past two years.

1.59pm: And even more bad news... a major state-owned energy supplier in Queensland will axe 500 jobs as power demand falls well below forecasts.

Ergon Energy, which supplies electricity to all regions of the state outside the southeast corner, says up to 500 full-time, part-time and contract workers will be axed by June next year.

Ergon released a statement saying power demand and electricity consumption had unexpectedly fallen well below its own regulatory forecast.

1.52pm: More bad news on the jobs front... the chief of a central Queensland mine has blamed lower coal prices for the decision to sack 250 workers.

Ensham Resources has confirmed the employees at its open cut coal mine in the Bowen Basin will be let go over the next two months.

Chief executive Peter Westerhuis says greatly reduced coal prices had made many areas of the mine unsustainable.

1.45pm: Australia's biggest brewer, Lion, has announced this afternoon its intention to close the Swan Brewery located at Canning Vale in Western Australia with the loss of around 80 jobs, Eli Greenblat reports.

James Brindley, managing director Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine Australia said in a statement that Lion had undertaken a regular review of its operations which showed the Swan Brewery has been operating substantially below full capacity for some time and would require significant ongoing capital investment to maintain its current operations - which was no longer sustainable.

More here:

1.31pm: One from the small biz desk. The inaugural federal small business commissioner, named today as Mark Brennan, formerly the Victorian small business commissioner, has put some of his cards on the table - improving the business environment and encouraging all stakeholders to lift their game are some of the goals.

You can read more about his plans for the sector here.

1.24pm: Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the 2008 financial crisis, reckons the acceleration of an investment bust in China increases the likelihood of a so-called hard landing there from late 2013 through 2014.

While he was gloomy on China, Roubini did not forecast a break-up of the Eurozone ‘‘anytime soon,’’ though he said there’s more than a 50 per cent chance Greece may exit it next year, he told Bloomberg TV.

1.19pm: What a day the dollar is having. The Aussie has risen almost half a US cent, following optimistic news from Spain and falls in the US dollar. At midday the currency was trading at $US1.0315, up from $US1.0267.

Commonwealth Bank currency strategist Joseph Capurso said the Aussie dollar had risen in accordance with other currency movements, as the greenback fell following news about Spain’s credit rating overnight.

‘‘It’s actually because of the US dollar, which has been sold off against most other currencies,’’ he said.

‘‘Part of that selloff is due to some good news about Spain. That was partly due to Moody’s decision not to cut the country’s credit rating. That’s given the euro a fair boost, and the Aussie had followed it.’’

1.11pm: Following on from this mornings AGM, blood products and vaccine company CSL is to buy back another $900 million of its own shares and has maintained its guidance of 12 per cent full year profit growth.

The buyback is a continuation of the company’s efforts to improve its capital strength, and will further improve its earnings per share performance.

CSL will buy up to $900 million in shares over 12 months from November 1, representing about four per cent of its total shares on issue.

1.00pm: More on the markets, where the big miners are doing well thanks to a rebounding copper price.

‘‘We’re in one of those situations where there’s a lot of cash parked on the sidelines looking for significant pullbacks to get in,’’ said Ric Spooner, a market strategist at CMC Markets.

‘‘Another consistent feature is the ongoing chase for yield,’’ Mr Spooner said.

‘‘The tone of the last couple of Reserve Bank statements has changed a bit. Ultimately our rates could move lower, and that is concerning for people who depend on fixed income.’’

12.55pm: Nearly 120 sub-contracted employees of Coles first learned their jobs were about to be cut in a text message ordering them to a mandatory meeting.

Coles confirmed that 51 permanent fixed contract workers and 68 casual staff, hired by recruitment firm Chandler Macleod, were axed in a teleconference meeting yesterday.

The announcement followed the grocery chain’s decision to curtail the sale of mobile phone contracts in store.

‘‘Compulsory teleconference 1pm today regarding your employment with Coles Mobile,’’ read the text message.

Read the full story here 

12.52pm: The Australian Securities Exchanges has released long-awaited draft revisions to its ‘‘continuous disclosure’’ rules, following the High Court’s decision two weeks ago to clear Fortescue Metals of misleading investors and breaking disclosure rules.

Kevin Lewis, ASX’s chief compliance officer, said this was the ‘‘single most important’’ guidance note revision that the stock exchange had been working on for the past two years.

It will retain the requirement that market sensitive information be disclosed immediately, but it has clarified that ‘‘immediately’’ does not mean ‘‘instantaneously,’’ but rather ‘‘promptly and without delay,’’ making it consistent with judicial authority.

There will also be greater recognition of the role trading halts perform.

12.48pm: Australian wheat inventories have dropped 14 per cent as handlers boosted exports after a record harvest.

Bulk stockpiles were 7.1 million tonnes at September 30, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said today.

That compares with 8.3 million tonnes a year earlier and 9.1 million tons on August 31, it said.

The wheat price has surged 30 per cent this year, the best performer on the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index of 24 raw materials, helping to push world food costs higher.

‘‘You’re looking at a domestic market that’s not going to be as well supplied as we anticipated six months ago,’’ said Michael Creed, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank Ltd. in Melbourne.

‘‘That provides a positive price outlook domestically relative to Chicago.’’

12.38pm: NAB says it is looking is to speed up its rate of growth in Asia, naming Spiro Pappas as chief executive of its Asian operation.

Group chief executive Cameron Clyne said Mr Pappas brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the role.

The bank has been investing in its operations for over 40 years, Mr Clyne said adding that: ‘‘Spiro is extremely well placed to drive [our] strategy in Asia.”

Mr Pappas said he was looking forward to the challenge. ‘‘NAB has a solid foundation in Asia which I am looking forward to continuing to expand in my new role,’’ he said.

12.28pm: Markets across the region have also followed the lead of European and US markets.

Tokyo stocks are up 1.4 per cent while Hong Kong shares are up about 0.3 per cent. 

12.24pm: The world’s richest person, Mexican telecoms mogul Carlos Slim, will enter the cement business in 2013 through a big stake in a new company, Cementos Fortaleza, AFP reports.

Cementos Fortaleza hopes to become "the best cement maker in Mexico," with Slim taking a 46 per cent stake and business partner Antonio del Valle owning 54 per cent, chief executive Antonio Tarracena told a news conference.

The new company, part of the conglomerate Elementia, will begin operations in 2013 with the completion of a $US300 million plant in the central state of Hidalgo.

12.17pm: Asian stocks joining a global rally has helped to lift the Australian dollar today. Speculation that Spain is closer to requesting a sovereign bailout had earlier pushed it to its highest level in two weeks. The dollar recently hit $US1.0320.

''There certainly has been a lot of smoke around a Spanish bailout deal in recent trading sessions and I think there is a rising sense that that is coming soon,’’ said Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist at Westpac  in Sydney.

‘‘That probably means we take the pressure off Aussie in the short term.’’

12.00: Gold has inched up, rising for a second day with the support of a stronger euro on easing concerns about the bloc’s debt crisis, after Moody’s affirmed Spain’s rating and German business sentiment improved.

Spot gold added 0.1 per cent to $US1749.65 an ounce, extending a 0.7 per cent rise from the previous session.

11.59am: Bad service in Australian retail establishments is the stuff of legend, but what is often overlooked is that shopping, dining, travel and other experiences are just as frequently ruined by one's fellow customers as they are by any employee, writes retail analyst Michael Baker.

11.52am: A little insight into BHP's failed attempt to take over Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan a couple of years back - and our attitude to Chinese investment.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said a Chinese takeover of Canadian oilsands producer Nexen doesn't raise the same concerns as BHP's foiled bid.

But Wall, whose opposition to BHP's hostile bid for Potash helped convince Ottawa to block the deal in 2010, said there is still reason to be cautious.

China's CNOOC has offered to buy Nexen for $15.1 billion, but the deal still needs to be approved by the Canadian government.

"I don't see a lot of parallels between the two companies," Wall said.

"Potash Corp was a dominant player in the world potash supply whereas Nexen represents a fraction of what's a pretty important resource, but not nearly in a quantity to be strategic."

11.47am: RBS Morgans private client adviser Bill Bishop said the Australian market had opened higher on strong leads from Wall Street and Europe, with banking stocks performing particularly well.

‘‘The market thinks that Spain is going to ask for a formal bailout so that has given it slightly more confidence,’’ he said.

11.34am: Japanese stocks have opened stronger thanks to the same leads that pushed the Australian market on earlier - better-than-expected industrial production and company earnings figures in the US.

The Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 0.7 per cent to 8760.69 in early trade and the broader Topix climbed 0.7 per cent to 737.47, with more than seven times as many shares advancing as falling.

11.24am: An hour and a bit into the day and the early gains are being maintained. The All Ordinaries index is 38.6 points higher, or 0.9 per cent, to 4552.5, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 39.4 points higher, or 0.9 per cent, at 4530.9.

11.14am: The big banks are all in postive territory this morning:

  • CBA is 0.60% higher to $57.43
  • ANZ is 1.12% higher to $26.08
  • NAB is 0.90% higher to $26.86
  • Westpac is 0.66% higher to $25.89

11.09am: More on Ten Network. Shares are down 7.5% this morning - 2.5 cents - to 31 cents. That's a fresh, all-time low for the troubled TV network.

11.04am: Ten Network says its agreement to sell its outdoor advertising business has been terminated by the prospective buyer.

Ten struck a deal in July with Outdoor Media Operations, which is owned by Champ Private Equity, for the sale of Eye Corp for up to $145 million.

Ten said this morning that it had received a formal notice from OMO saying it was terminating the agreement.

‘‘While Ten has reserved its legal position regarding the purported termination, Ten and OMO remain in discussions with the aim of agreeing amended sale terms,’’ the broadcaster said in a statement. 

10.58am: Stockland, which is holding its AGM in Sydney this afternoon, has been leading the losers on the ASX200 today.

Shares in the property developer are down 3.4% after it warned that profits may slump 10 per cent this year, as it contends with the "worst new housing market" in more than 20 years.

"I said in August that without a significant improvement in the residential market in the first quarter, our earnings per share in fiscal year 2013 will be lower than last year," said Stockland managing director Matthew Quinn.

"Unfortunately, it is now clear that this will be the case and fiscal year 13 earnings per share is likely to be around 10 per cent below last year and could be a further 5 per cent lower if conditions don't improve in Victoria.

"As we noted earlier, other property companies, including Mirvac, GPT and Australand, are also down this morning.

10.52am: The dollar is up this morning, hitting $US1.0314 a few minutes ago.

10.46am: Blood products and vaccine company CSL says that it still expects to increase profit by 12 per cent after a first quarter that met its expectations.

"The company is trading consistently with our expectations,’’ chairman John Shine told CSL’s annual general meeting this morning.

CSL made a net profit of $982.6 million in the 2011/12 financial year, up 4.5 per cent from the previous financial year.

Shares are up 34 cents so far today - 0.7% - to $47.08

10.43am: More than 500 employees of Allans Billy Hyde musical instrument stores will be out of work in the coming weeks, after receivers for its parent company failed to find a buyer.

Australian Music Group Holdings - owners of Allans Billy Hyde - will be shut down, according to administrators Ferrier Hodgson.

“The loss of jobs is disappointing, but we exhausted all avenues and there is no other way forward for this business,” said receiver Brendan Richards.

“These people have served music lovers and been a key part of the Australian music industry for generations. It is a sad day for live music in this country.”

10.42am: Following on from that tweet from David Scutt, Aussie shares have hit the highest point since the end of July last year in opening trade.

The ASX200 was recently trading at 4530, the highest in 15 months. The benchmark index is up more than 11 per cent for the year, and about 12 per cent above the 2012 low recorded in early June.

10.35am: The early sliders on the ASX200 include rare earth miner Lynas, and a lot of property companies:

  • Stockland: -3.10%
  • Lynas: -1.50%
  • GPT Group: -1.40%
  • CFS Retail Property: -1.01%
  • Mirvac Group: -0.98%
  • Australand Property: -0.98%

10.32am: The best performing stocks on the ASX200 so far today include:

  • Coalspur Mines: +7.02%
  • Atlas Iron:+4.47%
  • Gindalbie Metals: +3.51%
  • Transfield Services: +3.40% 
  • Fortescue Metals: +3.38% 

10.27am: Arab Bank treasury dealer David Scutt reckons markets are on the rise:

10.25am: If you’re interested in the most recent production updates from the big three miners you can find them here:

10.22am: In very early trade all the sectors on the ASX200 are ahead:

  • Materials: +1.55%
  • Energy: +1.05%
  • Industrials: +0.93%
  • Telecoms: +0.89%
  • Information technology: +0.70%
  • Consumer staples: +0.66%
  • Consumer discretionaries: +0.66%
  • Health: +0.54%
  • Financials: +0.53%
  • Utilities: +0.26%

10.19am: The big three miners have leapt out of the blocks in early trade following solid production updates:

  • BHP is 1.36% higher to $33.52
  • Rio is 2.2% higher to $56.33
  • Fortescue is 2.6% higher to $3.95

10.17am: In early trade, the All Ordinaries index is 36.1 points higher, or 0.8 per cent, to 4550.0, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 37.4 points higher, or 0.8 per cent, to 4528.9.

10.11am: The market opened ahead and already we're seeing a sea of green among the bluechips.

10.06am: After all the doom and gloom about China it's nice to hear from someone with a positive outlook.

Thomas Keller chief executive of Codelco, the world’s largest copper producer, is predicting a recovery in demand for commodities based on stimulus measures when the new leadership group takes the reins.

‘‘We expect to see healthier growth rates as we enter the new year,’’ Mr Keller said.

China’s new leadership will ‘‘provide important stimulus for the economy and for the mining industry at large, and copper in particular,’’ he said.

‘We should see some renewed vigor to the Chinese economy. Overall fundamentals are looking healthy.’’

10.04am: Gaming and wagering firm Tabcorp has its first quarter earnings out this morning - and they're up by 2.9 per cent.

The company says it started the financial year well, with new initiatives such as its Victorian Keno business and Tabcorp Gaming Solutions.

Tabcorp said its revenue in the three months to September 30 from continuing operations was $488.9 million, up from $475.2 million in the same period in the previous year.

9.55am: Here's a brief note from Suncorp's Daryl Conroy on where stocks are headed and a good start to the day for the dollar:

Aussie stocks are likely to follow the positive overnight leads, and our dollar just touched US$1.03 a new intraday fortnight high. Viva La Risk!

9.50am: Spare a thought for Nine boss David Gyngell today. While he was negotiating to save the TV network from administration yesterday, his wife, Nine personality Leila McKinnon, was delivering the couple’s first child a week ahead of schedule. As Fairfax's Andrew Hornery reports:

McKinnon went into labour late yesterday afternoon, prompting Gyngell to leave the intense negotiations with financiers to be by his wife's side, telling Channel Nine news that while he was doing his best to "save this great company" he also had "more important things to attend to; my wife is having a baby".

For the record, the pair are now the parents of a baby boy. He is yet to be named.

9.46am: AGM season continues today with The Reject Shop, Stockland, Pharmaxis and CSL all meeting with shareholder. Click here for a full list.

To catch up with all of this year's AGM news, visit BusinessDay's AGM season page.

9.44am: Some analyst rating changes for today:

  • CSL raised to 'buy' from neutral at UBS
  • Billabong cut to 'neutral' at Macquarie
  • Arrium raised to 'overweight' at Morgan Stanley
  • ALS rated new 'buy' at Citi
  • Medusa Mining cut to 'neutral' from 'buy' at Goldman Sachs

9.42am: China iron ore lost 40 US cents to $US112.60, marking the fourth consecutive day of losses. BHP added 0.77 per cent in US trade and Rio added 2.63 per cent.

9.40am: We are still waiting for an official resolution on the talks to stave off insolvency at Channel Nine. While late reports suggested the warring lenders had reached agreement, this was denied by sources close to Goldman Sachs.

9.35am: Lots of local news around early, starting with a production update from BHP. Resources reporter Peter Ker writes that the changing face of BHP Billiton's focus has been reinforced today ‘‘with a quarterly report that is dominated by the performance of the company's petroleum division’’:

BHP reported that a record amount of petroleum was produced in the quarter - 666,000 barrels of oil equivalent - and production of total petroleum products so far in 2012 is already 20% ahead of the same time in 2011. Full story.

9.35am: Local shares are expected to open higher following strong gains on offshore markets overnight. US shares added about 1 per cent giving the S&P500 its best two-day advance in a month as strong earnings from Johnson & Johnson and other bellwether companies raised hopes for the rest of the US reporting season.

Good news on Spain also led to gains in Europe after Germany said it was open to Spain seeking a precautionary credit line from Europe's rescue fund. Spanish shares added 3.4 per cent on the news. German shares added 1.6 per cent.

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

  • The SPI was 27 points higher at 4519
  • The $A was trading at $US1.0276
  • In the US, the S&P500 added 1% to 1454.37
  • In Europe, the FTSE100 added 1.12% to 5870.54
  • China iron ore lost 40 US cents to $US112.60 
  • Gold added 0.5 per cent at $US1,744.60 an ounce
  • WTI crude oil added 3 US cents to $US91.88 a barrel
  • RJ/CRB commodities index added 0.54% to 306.20

9.32am: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Wednesday.

This blog is not intended as investment advice

BusinessDay with agencies