A quiet day on local markets, as US data trickles through.
The market is down one point.The Dow Jones was flat at 16,573 — The market opened higher and drifted lower throughout the day before a late recovery to finish unchanged. Volume was below average and the market traded in a 75 point range.
US economic data was mixed — US weekly jobless claims increased to 326,000, higher than expectations of 317,000. The government’s monthly jobs number is out tonight. The ISM service sector index rose to 53.1 in March, slightly below the 53.5 expected but above 51.6 previously.
The ECB made no changes to its policy stance, but ECB President Mario Draghi said that the central bank was committed to using unconventional measures if necessary, to ensure low inflation does not take hold for too long. He confirmed that all measures - including quantitative easing - were discussed by the Governing Council.
The Australian dollar was weaker and is currently trading at US92.31c.
US ECONOMIC DATA
Challenger Job Cuts: Actual -30.2%, prior -24.4%
Initial Claims: Actual 326,000 consensus 320,000 prior 311,000 (revised 310,000)
GLOBAL ECONOMIC DATA
The Markit Eurozone composite PMI was 53.1 in March, lower than 53.3 previously and a flash estimate of 53.2 But the number was consistent with Markit’s forecasts for a 0.5% increase in GDP for the March Q, up from 0.3% in the December quarter. The best result was from Ireland, where growth surged to a seven-year record, followed by Germany.
Eurozone retail sales rose 0.4% in Feb and 0.8% over the year.
Companies going ex-dividend today — DJS (10c). Chinese mini-stimulus — China’s State Council said it was ramping up spending on railways, which will be funded by $26.2 billion in new bonds, as well as offering small business tax breaks and funding for low cost housing. Analysts still expect more stimulus in the form of looser monetary policy, such as a cut in bank reserve requirements. CSR and Boral (BLD) have announced that they propose to form a joint venture to combine their brick operations on the east coast of Australia. The proposed joint venture will be owned 60% by CSR and 40% by Boral. There is no cash consideration. The proposed transaction will enable efficiencies unavailable to the parties acting independently, including: consolidating overhead costs including sales, administrative and marketing through a single management structure; Developing more efficient freight and distribution networks and leveraging the location of the combined manufacturing footprint to improve service and reduce costs. Cost synergies are expected recover the cost of capital over the longer term, ensuring the sustainability of the Boral and CSR bricks businesses. So overall another positive announcement.