Stocks set to slip amid earnings reports
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Australian stocks are set for a soft start after Wall Street eased on concerns the Federal Reserve could be about to change its stance on bond buying while Euro stocks eased.
On the ASX24 at 7.25am, the SPI futures contract was 22 points lower to 5051. The Aussie dollar has fallen sharply in after-hours trade on concerns about the US Fed's bond buying program. The local unit was recently buying $US1.027, down from a local close yesterday of $US1.0365. It was also buying 96.3 yen, 76.94 euro cents and 67.18 pence.
Earnings season continues with another busy day of company reports, with Qantas, Origin, AMP, Goodman Group, Brambles and Echo Entertainment among the companies set to report.
What you need to know
- SPI futures are 22 points lower at 5051
- The $A is lower at $US1.0247
- In recent trade in New York, the S&P500 was 1% to lower 1514.49
- In Europe, the FTSE100 added 0.26% to 6395.37
- China iron ore added 90 US cents to $US158.90 a metric tonne
- Gold lost $US25.80 to $US1,578.40 an ounce
- WTI crude oil fell $US1.97 to $US94.69 a barrel
- Reuters/Jefferies CRB index was down 0.6% to 294.70
Making news today
In economics news:
- RBA foreign exchange transaction for January
In company news:
- The following companies release first half results: Fairfax Media, Insurance Australia Group, Qantas, Origin, Consolidated Media Holdings, Commonwealth Property Office Fund, Goodman Group, Brambles, Drillsearch, Mortgage Choice, Echo Entertainment Group, Retail Food Group, Transpacific Industries, Tatts Group, St Barbara, iiNet, Envestra
- Adelaide Brighton full year results
- AMP full year results
- David Jones Ltd Q2 sales result
- Ardent Leisure interim results
- APN News & Media full year results
- PaperlinX interim results
- Panaust full year results
- Tatts Group first half results
- Alumina full year results
- Iluka Resources full year results
Analyst rating changes:
- Monadelphous Group cut to sell at Deutsche Bank
- Monadelphous Group cut to neutral at Macquarie
- Asciano downgraded to underperform at Macquarie
- Sonic Healthcare cut to neutral at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
- Arrium reinstated to underperform at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
With about two hours of trade remaining, US stocks had extended losses as minutes from the Federal Reserve’s last meeting showed several policy makers said the central bank should be ready to vary the pace of bond purchases amid a debate over their risks.
- S&P500 slipped 0.6% to 1521.33
- Dow Jones Indus Avg lost 0.17% to 14011.25
- Nasdaq composite lost 0.7% to 3191.14
European stock markets diverged, with London gaining on an increasing prospect of more cash stimulus from the Bank of England (BoE), while Paris dropped on profit-taking, analysts said.
- London’s FTSE 100 added 0.26% to 6395.37
- Frankfurt’s DAX 30 lost 0.30% to 7728.90
- In Paris the CAC 40 lost 0.69% to 3709.88
Asian markets mostly climbed, with dealers taking a positive cue from Wall Street and Europe, following a surge in investor confidence in eurozone powerhouse Germany. Japanese shares posted healthy gains on Wednesday as the yen softened and data showed exports rose for the first time in eight months in January, although the country still posted its worst ever monthly trade deficit.
- Tokyo's Nikkei added 0.845 to 11,468.28
- Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.71% to 23,307.41
- China's Shanghai composite added 0.60% to 2397.18
Global oil prices plunged as traders seized on speculation over possible plans for an increase in crude production and digested downbeat US housing starts data, analysts said. Traders also took the opportunity to cash in recent gains as they awaited publication of minutes from the US Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy meeting.
- In late afternoon London deals, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in April sank $US1.57 to $US115.95 a barrel.
- New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for March dived $US1.97 to $US94.69 ($A91.91) per barrel. The March contract expires at the close.
Gold was poised to settle at a seven-month low below $US1,600 an ounce as investors bet that the Federal Reserve may signal an early end to its bond-buying program.
- The most actively traded gold contract, for April delivery, on Wednesday traded down $US25.80, or 1.6 per cent, at $US1,578.40 a troy ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Base metals on the London Metal Exchange (LME have) closed mostly lower after the group pared overnight gains early in the session, with a lower euro on the day weighing prices toward the close.
- At the close of open-outcry trading, LME three-month copper was 1.1 per cent lower on the day at $US7,960 a metric ton, falling below the psychological $US8,000/ton level.
- Nickel once again led declines in a bearish week for the metal, closing 1.2 per cent lower at $US17,165/ton.
How we fared yesterday
Australian shares rose 0.3 per cent on Wednesday, extending the market's bull run at 4-1/2 year highs, drawing momentum from overseas leads and a better-than-expected earnings season. The S&P/ASX 200 index finished the day 16.8 points higher at 5,098.7.
BusinessDay with agencies