The market is down 16. The SFE Futures suggested a 2 point rise in the market this morning.

The Dow Jones closed down 11.9 – It moved in a relatively large 120 point range and closed slightly down for the first time in six days on the back of an unexpected fall in new-home sales, increasing concern of a slowing economy. New home sales fell 3.9% in February to annual rate of 848,000, lower than the 985,000 expected. The oil price was in the news, it closed at its highest level for the year after tensions between Iran and the West intensified following Iran’s detention on British naval personnel. A few are beginning to think the conflict could cut Persian Gulf oil exports, pushing the price higher. The market will be looking for some direction this week with the Conference Board’s consumer confidence survey out tomorrow and the gross domestic product report due on Thursday. The NASDAQ continued its good run closing up 0.3%.

Resources mixed today. BHP down 21c to 2983c. Its vice president of business development said the company’s US$2.2bn Ravensthorpe nickel project in Australia was more than 80% complete, the first shipment for nickel refining set to occur later this year. RIO down 9c to 7833c. Metals mostly up overnight, Zinc up 2.8%, Zinifex up 9c to 1631c. Aluminium down 1.4% and Nickel up 0.7% following yesterday’s large 7% fall. Copper up 1.9%. Oil price up 70c to 61.77 on the back of falling US oil inventories and continued tension between Iran and the West. Woodside up 74c to 3897c. Gold up $6.60. Newcrest down 9c to 2372c.

Not much going on today… Nickel stocks are flying on the back of Xstrata’s bid for LionOre.

  • We might be set for some consolidation amongst mid cap nickel companies – Xstrata announced a $4.6bn offer for LionOre Mining (LIM) last night, an offer that was unanimously approved by the LIM board. LIM up 251c or 14.27% to 2010c, its stock price had risen 177% since June 2006.
  • Fortescue Metals (FMG) up 89c to 2359c after announcing late yesterday that it had secured a off-take agreement with China’s Baosteel for a period of ten years for its $3.7bn iron ore project in the Pilbara. The stock is up 33% in the past two weeks.
  • Centrebet International (CIL) up 4c to 245c after forming a new strategic alliance and introducing a new betting product to the German market across a range of distribution channels in on and off-course outlets, online and mobile phones.
  • Monadelphous Group (MND) down 7c to 1029c after announcing it acquired Hunter Valley based coal services business Ellavale Engineering for $7.25m.
  • Ten Network (TEN) reports tomorrow…no doubt the result will be overshadowed by CanWest’s stake sale. Credit Suisse are expecting a flat 1H NPAT of $42.9m, with a 9c dividend, UBS Warburg is forecasting a 3% increase in NPAT of $44.3m.

The uranium sector is continuing its rise; it seems the party never stops. There is an article in the MARCUS TODAY newsletter “Big Game Hunters” detailing the rise of uranium stocks and why many might have missed out on the 200%+ gains. Warning: The email directly under the article might make you weep.

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