Australian shares inched higher with miners rallying on strong metal prices, while gains were capped by sluggish earnings and caution ahead of the release of US jobs data.
- Consumers give US economy a lift
- Dollar higher than before last rate cut
- Joyce looks back at Qantas's 'pivotal' year
4.59pm: Another week has come to an end and so Markets Live must say goodbye. Thank you very much for being with us, we hope to see you again next week, enjoy your weekend, au revoir.
4.36pm: Blue chip stocks were mixed today, with the major miners being the best performers:
- BHP: +1.7%
- Rio: +2%
- ANZ: -0.7%
- CBA: +0.2%
- NAB: -0.6%
- Westpac: -0.4%
- Fortescue: +0.5%
- Woolworths: -1%
- Wesfarmers: -0.4%
- Telstra: flat
4.26pm: The gains for the dollar came despite a real chance the RBA will cut interest rates next, in part because of the very strength of the currency.
The dollar traded as high as $US1.0420, its highest since late September, from $US1.0371 in late local trade on Thursday, before steadying around $US1.0400.
Resistance was now seen at $US1.0445, the 61.8 per cent of the $US1.0149-$1.0625 move, ahead of $US1.0470 with key support at $US1.0331 and traders citing stops above $US1.0420-50.
"Easing monetary policy will help to stimulate local industries such as housing and non-residential construction, manufacturing and household consumption," said Rob Henderson, chief economist at National Australia Bank.
4.20pm: Among the sectors, it was the miners who propped the market up. Materials added 1.2 per cent, while health and energy posted marginal gains of 0.1 per cent each. Consumer staples dropped 0.5 per cent, financials fell 0.4 per cent and utilities lost 0.7 per cent.
4.12pm: The market has finished marginally higher, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 added 2.5 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4460.1, while the broader All Ords rose 3.4 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4483.3.
3.50pm: The upcoming US jobs report could be pivotal for financial markets - and for the outcome of the US elections, CMC Markets trader Tim Waterer says:
- The result may be a turning point for investments which may start to diverge from recent trading ranges depending on the result.
- Just which side of the 8% mark the jobs data comes in at may impact which party occupies the White House in 2013.
When breaking down the performance of the ASX200 today, you had the materials stocks and then you had everyone else, Waterer notes:
- The bellweather mining stocks BHP and Rio both surged on the better global economic picture as painted by data from China and the US.
- However elsewhere today, the majority of the market seemed fatigued after the steep falls on Thursday or perhaps traders were just not inclined to take on positions ahead of the monthly US employment report.
- In any event, it was the second day in a row where the Australian market did not follow suit with other Asian bourses, with the ASX200 not able to muster a bounce after the Thursday sell-off.
3.40pm: Households have been saving even more than previously thought, according to revisions Friday to official data that are bad news for retailers but suggest families have a bigger buffer than assumed against an economic slowdown.
New figures from the ABS also added $88 billion to the level of gross domestic product (GDP) for the year that ended June 30 and showed labour productivity to be higher than earlier believed.
The ABS now estimates the ratio of household savings to disposable income was 10.8 per cent in 2011-12, up sharply from the previously reported 9.3 per cent and the highest reading since 1986.
Similarly, the savings ratio for 2010-11 is now put at 10.7 per cent, instead of 9.6 per cent. The extra saving could be one explanation of why retailers have struggled so much in the last couple of years.
3.36pm: The Reserve Bank is highly likely to further cut interest rates next week, according to a poll of analysts, mostly due to global growth concerns and particularly in key export market China.
Fifteen out of 20 economists surveyed by Reuters expect the RBA to cut its cash rate 25 basis points to 3.0 per cent at Tuesday's meeting, matching record lows reached during the global financial crisis.
Respondents believe the RBA has more to do following last month's easing when the central bank cited a darker global background, falling export prices and a high currency.
Markets aren't so sure, with swap rates signalling a 50 per cent chance of a cut.
3.24pm: After being effectively blocked from expanding via acquisition in the Australian market, health insurer NIB Holdings, is to spend $NZ102 million ($A80 million) to buy New Zealand’s Tower Medical Insurance.
NIB touted ‘‘a substantial, immediate accretion to earnings per share and return on equity’’ although analysts were wary of the competitive dynamics in the New Zealand health insurance market.
Even though Tower has a 13 per cent share of the health insurance market, down from 16 per cent five years ago, it is a distant second to the dominant Southern Cross, which has a 60 per cent share. Additionally, the Tower business has been going backwards for some time, with a 20 per cent loss of policyholders over the past five years coupled with 33 per cent decline in premium income.
The only saving grace has been a steady decline in the management expense ratio, to 11 per cent from 17 per cent.
3.08pm: The biggest winners of the supermarket price wars have been Coles and Woolworths, writes BusinessDay's Colin Kruger:
It is now five years since Wesfarmers acquired Coles for $19 billion at the peak of the sharemarket boom, but despite 13 consecutive quarters of the supermarket operator beating Woolworths in comparable store sales, neither of Australia’s giants has lost out from the renewed competition between them.
One of the main reasons for this is Australia’s duopoly market structure, according to research from Macquarie Private Wealth.
The pervasiveness of the Coles and Woolworths supermarkets ensures they both build market share against other competitors.
Macquarie says that Coles’ and Woolworths’ share of the $112 billion grocery market has increased over the last five years from 48 per cent to 56 per cent.
2.49pm: Here's a look at the best and worst performers on the ASX200 so far today:
2.38pm: A leading industry group has warned that Australia will need to raise taxes in the future to avoid the European-style problems of debt and deficits.
But Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) chief executive Innes Willox told a conference today that he also believes governments should first exercise new levels of discipline over all new and existing spending, as well as taxation levels.
Mr Willox said governments and opposition from both sides of politics will always be tempted to respond to demand for spending, especially in election years.
2.24pm: It looks as though the resources sector is holding the ASX up today:
- Materials: +1.3%
- Energy: +0.2%
- Financials: -0.2%
- Consumer staples: -0.5%
2.12pm: Packaging business Visy has won a long-running dispute against the tax office to have losses incurred more than a decade ago declared as legitimate. The victory allows various companies within the Visy group to claim deductions totalling $75 million between 2000 and 2004.
It is one of a series of cases between the tax office and Visy’s owners, the Pratt family. This case centred around Visy’s decision to purchase American company Southcorp business in 2001, and whether it was done with the intention of making a profit or if Visy knew it was paying too much.
2.06pm: The Australian dollar touched the highest level in more than a month on speculation US data overnight will show the labor market there is improving and boost demand for riskier assets.
The dollar is heading for a fourth weekly advance, the longest winning streak since August, as signs of a recovery in the world’s largest economy spurred a global rally in stocks. Gains in the dollar were limited as Greece’s lawmakers squabbled over austerity measures needed to secure a bailout and keep the nation in the euro.
“Investors are getting more optimistic about the outlook for the US economy,” said Marito Ueda, senior managing director at FX Prime Corp., a currency-margin company. “The risk-on tone across the market is supporting the Aussie.”
The Australian dollar touched $US1.0420, the highest since September 28, before trading at $US1.0401. in Sydney, unchanged from the close yesterday. It was set for a 0.3 per cent advance this week. The dollar added 0.2 per cent to 83.48 yen, after reaching 83.56, the strongest since August 21.
1.57pm: When blogger James Adonis asks someone how they are lately, they are more like to answer "so busy". But in a world that inordinately values the relentless doing of stuff, he wonders if it's more impressive to make a concerted effort to not be busy.
Maybe that's why so many organisations are embracing meditation in the workplace.
1.49pm: Today’s headline 0.6% rise in the PPI was well below market expectations of a 1.0% rise in QI, says CBA economist Michael Workman. A larger than expected fall in imported fuel and pharmaceutical products drove the better‑than‑expected result. The data confirms that upstream inflationary pressures remain contained.
- Over the past year the final PPI is 1.1% higher, with domestic prices also up 1.1%pa and imported prices just 0.4% higher. Consumer goods prices rose by 0.9% in QIII to be 1.0% higher over the year. Capital goods prices rose by only 0.2% to be just 0.9% higher over the year.
- In the three different stages of production, domestic prices all outpaced imported prices (which all fell in QIII). Domestic price rises in all stages were driven by higher utility prices, as the impact of the Carbon Tax flowed through. Prices were most affected in the final stage of production. Final (stage 3) producer prices rose by 0.6% in QIII, and the annual growth rate remained unchanged at 1.1%. Utility prices (electricity supply; gas supply; water supply, sewerage and drainage services) drove the increase, surging by 10.9%. If we exclude the increase in utility prices over QIII, then the PPI would have printed at 0.4%. “Other agriculture” (or food prices) also rose by 26.8% in the quarter. Final imported prices fell by 2.3% due to falls in petrol prices (‑8.3%) and motor vehicles (‑4.2%).
1.31pm: Michael Pascoe says the future for Qantas looks a lot more like ... Jetstar. In a lunchtime column, he writes:
While the Qantas CEO tells his annual general meeting a story about a pivotal year and a turnaround platform, the navigator’s guidance on where Qantas is heading can be found in the company’s latest passenger and capacity figures – Qantas is on course to become Jetstar’s tail. Whether it will be wagging or not is open to question. Full story.
1.24pm: And here are the big gainers on the ASX200 at this stage of the day:
- Perpetual: +4.64%
- Drillsearch: +4.39%
- Boart Longyear: +4.18%
- Ten: +3.70%
- Echo: +2.62%
1.19pm: Speaking of banks, Macquarie is in the top ten worst-performed stocks today, down 2.35 per cent to $30.76. Other big losers today include:
- Pacific Brands: -3.90%
- Primary Health Care: -3.01%
- Transpacific Industries: -2.74%
- Reject Shop: -2.35%
- APN News & Media: -2.32%
- Tabcorp: -2.17%
1.15pm: Three of the big four banks have slipped into negative territory after a trading higher early:
- CBA is 0.07% higher to $57.31
- ANZ is 0.45% lower to $25.215
- NAB is 0.44% lower to $24.91
- Westpac is 0.3% lower to $25.06
1.13pm: The big miners are holding onto gains for the most past as the market slips:
- BHP is 1.63% higher to $34.37
- Rio is 1.95% higher to $57.34
- Fortescue is 1.38% higher to $4.045
1.09pm: Macquarie Private Wealth director Martin Lakos said the local market had a disappointing morning after opening strongly following a bounce in the US and solid gains in Europe.
‘‘Whether it’s remnants of what appeared to be a big portfolio sell yesterday, that’s possible,’’ he said. ‘‘There may be some offshore selling in Australian dollar assets.’’
1.03pm: Pacific Investment Management, which runs the world’s biggest mutual fund, favours inflation protection in Australia and the US, betting stimulus efforts around the world will stoke faster price increases.
“Central banks have implemented increasingly far-reaching policy measures and they are more willing to take inflation risk as a trade-off for growth and employment,” said Michael Althof, a senior portfolio manager in Munich.
“Index-linked bonds are good assets to have, as longer-term we think the pressure for higher inflation is there.”
Australian inflation bonds returned 8.4 per cent this year through October 31, the most among AAA rated issuers of the securities, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch indexes. That’s greater than a 5.6 per cent return from a global index of inflation-linked sovereign bonds and 3.9 per cent for conventional government debt.
12.56pm: Australian companies are feeling the squeeze from higher operating costs, but relatively weak product prices, economists say.
Macquarie senior economist Brian Redican said producer price index (PPI) data - which measures the price of goods at the farm or factory gate before costs - showed that prices remained low.
Australia’s producer price index at the final stage of production rose 0.6 per cent in the September quarter, lower than economists’ projections of a 1.0 per cent rise, and compared with an unrevised 0.5 per cent rise in the June quarter.
12.49pm: Airline Emirates has agreed to market South Australia as a tourist destination.
The first Emirates direct flight from Dubai arrived in Adelaide last night, with the airline to operate four flights a week to SA over the next three months before increasing to a daily service from February.
Premier Jay Weatherill said the arrival of Emirates would provide a significant boost to the local economy, increasing tourism and business travel.
He signed a formal agreement with the airline today to market South Australia in Europe through a joint $2 million campaign to run for the next two years.
12.40pm: More than 100,000 applications available for download from Google’s online marketplace may be collecting too much data from users, a research firm said.
About one-quarter of more than 400,000 applications studied are “suspicious” or “questionable” because of what they do in the background, such as location tracking, accessing contact lists or harvesting the contents of e-mail messages, according a report issued yesterday by security firm Bit9 Inc. Those functions typically go far beyond the programs’ stated purpose, Bit9 said.
Android phones warn users when they download applications about what information the programs will access. Whether most people actually read those warnings is another matter. A Google representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
12.28pm: More from the Qantas AGM, a disgruntled shareholder has accused the company's board of ‘‘destroying’’ the airline's international brand.
Also, the shareholder said management and the board had shown ‘‘disloyalty’’ to staff, given ‘‘the way you sit up here and blame everybody’’.
‘‘You have sold out and you have sold Qantas out,’’ the shareholder said.
‘‘You have actually destroyed the international brand.’’
The shareholder also touched on Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce’s decision to ground the fleet in 2011, which was announced the day after the 2011 annual general meeting.
She said it was ‘‘obvious that you had another agenda’’ at the AGM.
‘‘I have come from Sydney and I have also taken the precaution to drive down just in case you pulled any more of your stunts,’’ the shareholder said.
12.17pm: The head of the ASX has abandoned his push for trading hours to be extended so they align with key Asian markets.
Chief executive Elmer Funke Kupper floated the idea of Australian trading hours being extended by two hours to 6pm when he took up his role in October 2011.
But Mr Kupper said Australia’s financial markets were geared to close at 4pm, and a later closing time would be ‘‘incredibly expensive’’ to administer.
‘‘The feedback I got is that our clients in the funds management industry and superannuation did not see (the) benefit of extending opening hours relative to the cost of making the change so we have to be very disciplined and say, ‘That idea we shelve’.’’
12.05pm: Network Ten’s Queensland TV news team has reportedly been ‘‘gutted’’ with 10 senior staff sacked after the broadcaster posted a full year loss of almost $13 million.
The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) says it understands 10 senior staff have been made redundant but they were unsure of details.
‘‘We’re seeking feedback from people at the moment. We’ve had a lot of comment and a lot of inquiries this morning,’’ a spokesman said.
11.56am: Australia’s big banks have escaped being included on the latest list of 28 global banks that will be forced to set aside extra funds on their balance sheet to protect from future economic shocks.
Even with three Australian banks each ranking within the top 20 global banks in terms of market capitalisation, they not regarded as "systemically important" to the global financial system to be required to carry an extra cushion of capital.
For their part Australian banks have the bulk of their assets here and in New Zealand. While the collapse of any of the majors would be significant for the local economy, in itself such an event is unlikely to send shockwaves through the global banking system.
11.40am: BusinessDay's Matt O'Sullivan is down in Canberra at the Qantas AGM:
Qantas's chief executive, Alan Joyce, has described the last year as challenging but a "pivotal one" in which the airline signed an extensive alliance with Emirates.
Mr Joyce also said the alliance with Emirates would "revitalise" Qantas's international network on the kangaroo route to Europe.
He did not provide any update on trading conditions, nor touch in his opening remarks to the AGM on Virgin Australia's bids this week for control of Tiger Australia and regional airline Skywest.
So far on Friday, the meeting has been a mild mannered affair compared with the high drama at the AGM in Sydney last year.
11.33am: Shares in NIB Holdings surged as much as 9c to $1.90, hitting new all-time highs in early trading, on its $80 million purchase of the health insurance arm of Tower in New Zealand, which it said would be immediately earnings per share accretive.
The deal was also welcomed by Tower shareholders, since the group has been reviewing its assets for some time.
On the New Zealand sharemarket, Tower shares rose 5c to $NZ1.98, hitting their highest level since the Christchurch earthquake. With the sale, Tower said it plans to pay the amount received from the sale to shareholders ‘‘if not more’’.
11.28am: Back to the Qantas AGM. Chairman Leigh Clifford said the airline will begin paying dividends again as soon as possible.
Qantas shareholders have not received any dividend payments for the past three years as the airline struggles with higher fuel prices and losses at its international arm.
‘‘The board discusses this matter regularly and seriously, and we will resume dividends at the earliest opportunity,’’ he said.
11.20am: The Aussie dollar has touched a one-month higher today on speculation US employment data due out later today will boost demand for riskier assets. It touched $US1.0421, the highest since September 28.
The Aussie is headed for a fourth weekly gain, the longest winning streak since August, while signs of a recovery in the US largest economy also helped spur in a rally on the ASX today.
‘‘Investors are getting more optimistic about the outlook for the U.S. economy,’’ said Marito Ueda, senior managing director in Tokyo at FX Prime. ‘‘The risk-on tone across the market is supporting the Aussie.’’
11.12am: If anyone thought Qantas was going to get a day of clear air for its AGM, think again. The Transport Workers' Union has used the occasion to take a swing at the company, labelling 2012 a "disaster" for the flying kangaroo.
‘‘We have concerns where the company is headed," said TWU official Klaus Pinkas today. ‘‘Obviously this last year has proven that it is headed in the wrong direction. By slashing routes, by reducing the amount of services that they provide is not the way ahead of this great airline.’’
We'll have more from the shareholder meeting, being held in Canberra, as it unfolds. It was due to kick off at 11am.
11.07am: BlueScope Steel says it will raise $US300 million ($A289.70 million) to help pay off debt by issuing senior unsecured notes to institutional investors.
BlueScope said the notes would be offered by its subsidiaries BlueScope Steel (Finance) Ltd and BlueScope Steel Finance (USA) LLC.BlueScope said the notes would be offered to institutional investors in the United States and elsewhere.
‘‘If successful, BlueScope Steel will apply the net proceeds to repay existing indebtedness,’’ the company said. ‘‘The notes issue will diversify BlueScope Steel’s funding sources and extend its debt maturities.’’
11.03am: Westfield shares are trading higher, bucking the trend of the retail sector today, after the company confirmed its forecast of a 49.5 cent per share distribution, and said its United States shopping centres escaped major damage from superstorm Sandy.
‘‘Thankfully our centres on the east coast which were affected by Hurricane Sandy did not sustain any major damage,’’ joint chief executives Peter Lowy and Steven Lowy said in a statement on Friday. ‘‘Our team has done a tremendous job with the majority of centres operational within 12 hours of the storm passing.’’
10.57am: RBS Morgans equities director Bill Chatterton said resources were leading the charge in early trade with gains across the sector.
‘‘The whole resources sector has really had a wonderfully good open,’’ he said. ‘‘The interest in a significant recovery in the US has helped, as has movement in base metal prices.’’
Iron ore prices were up $US1 to $US120 overnight. Locally, in economic news on Friday, the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases the producer price index for September quarter, and the Housing Industry Association publishes its trades report for the September quarter.
10.53am: BREAKING Visy has won a four-year battle against the tax office over a $28 million bill for 2001-02. Justice John Middleton delivered his judgment at the Federal Court in Melbourne on Friday morning. More soon.
10.50am: The big miners are not missing out on the party:
- BHP is 1.55% higher to $34.34
- Rio is 2.15% higher to $57.46
- Fortescue is 1.63% higher to $4.05
10.45am: The ASX200 has tracked back to a gain of 0.4 per cent, but all of the big retailers are missing out this morning's gain:
- Woolies: -0.24%
- Wesfarmers: -0.24%
- Harvey Norman: -0.66%
- DJs: -0.38%
- Myer: -1.02%
10.39am: If you're looking for reasons why the Aussie market is enjoying a positive end to the week, here's one view.
‘‘Global indicators are starting to show an improvement in momentum, particularly in the US,’’ said Nader Naeimi, Sydney- based head of dynamic asset allocation at AMP Capital Investors. ‘‘This can be sustained if central banks keep supporting growth.’’
10.34am: Here are the early slider on the ASX200:
- Flexigroup: -3.13%
- Navitas: -1.74%
- Gud Holdings: -1.31%
- Resolute: -1.31%
- Macquarie: -1.30%
- Crown: -1.10%
10.31am: Here are the best performed companies on the ASX200 so far today:
- Ten: +5.56%
- BlueScope: +4.26%
- Panaust: +3.36%
- Aquila: +3.15%
- Intrepid: +3.08%
10.27am: Looking now at the sectors on the ASX200:
- Materials: +1.60%
- Energy: +0.54%
- Telecoms: +0.48%
- Industrials: +0.46%
- Health: +0.33%
- Financials: +0.28%
10.22am: Shares in NIB Holdings have surged 9 cents to $1.90, hitting new all-time highs in early trading, on its $80 million purchase of the health insurance arm of Tower in New Zealand, which it said will be immediately earnings per share accretive.
The deal was also welcomed by Tower shareholders, since the group has been reviewing its assets for some time.
On the New Zealand sharemarket, Tower shares rose 5 cents to $NZ1.98, hitting their highest level since the Christchurch earthquake.
With the sale, Tower said it plan to pay the amount received from the sale to shareholders ‘‘if not more’’.
10.15am: Westfield says its United States shopping centres escaped major damage from superstorm Sandy, while sales in its Australian stores are sluggish.
Westfield has 47 centres in the US, and several in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut where the storm has caused severe damage.
The news came as Westfield delivered its latest quarterly trading update, which showed comparable specialty retail sales growth in the 12 months to September 30 was just 1.2 per cent in Australia, and 1.8 per cent in New Zealand.
10.08am: As expected, stocks are off to a strong start, with the ASX200 up 0.6 per cent in opening trade. All sectors are posting gains, but materials are up strongest (1.5%).
9.51am: The big story for the first part of next week will be Tuesday's interest rate decision by the RBA. Credit Suisse data now shows it's a 50/50 call - or more accurately, a 53 per cent chance of a 25 basis point cut.
That's down from an 84 per cent of a cut on 15 October, and was still at 82 per cent on the 23 October, but fell to 60 per cent when the stronger-than-expected data inflation arrived the following day. It 's gradually drifted lower since then.
9.46am: The Aussie dollar had a strong night on the back of the US data, pushed up from around $US1.036 yesterday afternoon to $US1.041 at 1.45am. It has hovered around the $US1.04 mark since.
Westpac New Zealand senior market strategist Imre Speizer said sentiment had begun to rise on Chinese manufacturing data released on Thursday, and this continued overnight with US job figures.
‘‘It appears that economic data around the world is starting pick up a little bit,’’ he said. ‘‘That’s why share markets and some commodities and currencies like the Aussie went up.’’
9.42am: Here's a few analyst rating changes:
- Perseus Mining rated new 'strong buy' at Fraser Mackenzie
- Hyflux raised to 'neutral' at CIMB
- SMS Management cut to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse
- Transpacific Industries cut to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse
9.39am: A final note on US economics data. Tonight, official unemployment data for October and it's expected to show a modest rise to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent. Depending on where it lands, this number could have a political impact for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney as they enter the last few days of campaigning for the presidency. Barack Obama would probably accept a small rise to 7.9 per cent and is no doubt hoping it doesn't bouce back above the 8 per cent level it fell from last month.
9.35am: Looking at the US data a bit more closely, consumer confidence surged in October to its highest level in nearly five years as shoppers were encouraged by recent declines in the unemployment rate. They responded by spending more on cars and trucks, at retail businesses and on goods produced at US factories.
Also, manufacturing expanded for the second straight month, largely because of higher consumer demand.
And weekly unemployment applications fell 9,000 to 363,000 last week, which suggests hiring is unlikely to pick up much from its current pace of about 150,000 new jobs a month. But at least things aren’t getting any worse. You can read more about the data here.
In the US tonight, however, official unemployment data for October and it's expected to show a modest rise to 7.9 per cent from 7.8 per cent. This number could have a political impact and Barack Obama and Mitt Romney enter the last few days of campaigning for the presidency.
9.32am: Local stocks are expected to hitch a ride higher today on good economics news from the US. Jobs and consumer confidence numbers impressed investors in both Europe and on Wall Street, sparking a rally in both places. We'll take a closer look at those in a moment.
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 43 points higher at 4479
- The $A is higher at $US1.0405
- In the US, the S&P500 rose 1% to 1426.65
- In Europe, the FTSE100 rose 1.37% to 5861.92
- China iron ore added $US1 to $US120.30 a metric tonne
- Gold added 28 US cents to $US1721.65 an ounce
- WTI crude oil added 74 US cents to $US86.98 a barrel
- Reuters/Jefferies CRB index rose 0.21% to 295.85
9.30am: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Friday.
Contributors: Thomas Hunter, Jens Meyer, Max Mason
This blog is not intended as investment advice
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