Strong sales figures from major retailers kept the market steady.
The market is down five points.
The Dow Jones was up 45 points at 16,581, a record closing high — the market rose throughout the day, slipping slightly after weaker growth data but recovering strongly following the statement from the FOMC. There were a number of earnings results which were positive on balance. The market traded in an 85 point range on above-average volume.
The Fed confirmed it would reduce asset purchases by US$10 billion to US$45 billion this month, as expected. The statement included reassuring comments about the economy and the expected path of monetary policy.
US economic data was disappointing — the economy grew 0.1% in the first quarter, lower than the 1.2% rise expected and the lowest quarterly growth since the fourth quarter of 2012. But the ADP private sector employment report was better than expected, with employment rising 220,000, ahead of forecasts.
European markets were mixed — The UK FTSE was up 0.15% and the German DAX rose 0.20%, but the French CAC fell 0.23% and the Italian MIB fell 0.88%.
Overseas corporate news — French group Alstom rose 9.3% on reopening after a bid from General Electric last week. UK oil company Heritage rose 22% after agreeing to a takeover offer from a Qatari investment fund.
US bond markets rose after the FOMC comments, with the yield on the 10 year bond falling five basis points to 2.646%.
The Aussie dollar was stronger andis currently trading at US92.81c.
Iron ore fell US$2.90 to US$105.40 a tonne.
Base metals were generally weaker — copper fell 1.06%, aluminium fell 0.83% and zinc fell 0.50%. Nickel bucked the trend and rose 0.97%.
Oil fell US$1.54 or 1.52% to US$99.74 a barrel after record high inventories were recorded in the US.
Brambles (BXB 943c) — Shares closed -1.26% yesterday following a third quarter trading update. BXB says it is on track to achieve its full year profit guidance after increasing sales 6% during the first three quarters. They expect to make $US930-$US965 million for financial year 2014 thanks to solid revenue growth. They recorded sales revenue of $US3.97 billion for the nine months to March 31, up 6%.
Harvey Norman (HVN 328c) — Closed +0.61% yesterday following sales numbers for the nine months ended March 31. Sales were up 4% to $4.33 billion. Like-for-like sales for the nine months ended March 31 increased by 5.2%. The strong sales came on the back of a stronger euro and New Zealand dollar, increasing the performance of its international stores.
Woolworths (WOW 3732c) — Shares closed -1.89% following third quarter sales results which come in at $15.19 billion up 5.3% on year. The result was lower than an expected 6.5% increase to $15.33 billion. The result was driven largely by Australian food and liquor business, which increased 5.1% above an expected 3%. Sales from the company’s petrol business were also up 5.1% to $1.82 billion. Online sales increased more than 50%. The hotels business lifted sales 0.6% to $357 million. Sales from the NZ supermarkets were up 16% to $1.33 billion. Sales from Masters Home improvement division were up 29% to $374 million.
Singapore Telecommunications (SGT 327c) — Shares closed +1.24% yesterday after Optus announced they are cutting 350 jobs in the next four weeks to improve sustained profitability and increase efficiencies.