The market is up 67. The SFE Futures suggest a 25 point rise in the market this morning.

The Dow Jones was up 27 – It moved in a relatively narrow 70 point range and closed higher for the second consecutive session on a heap of takeover activity. There were close to $40bn worth of deals done overnight, the biggest one involving Kohlberg Kravis Roberts paying $29bn for First Data. The subprime mortgage issue was back in the news, home lenders closed down after New Century Financial announced it would file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The NASDAQ closed slightly higher helped by Apple Inc after it announced it had reached an agreement with EMI to sell the record label’s songs online without copy protection software. The oil price continued its push towards $70 a barrel, not helping the mild inflation concerns.

Resources doing well today. BHP up 51c to 2986c and RIO up 109c to 7829c. Metals mixed overnight, Zinc down 3.3%, Zinifex down 8c to 1524c. Nickel up 1.8% and Copper up 1.6%. Aluminium down 0.9%. Oil price up 9c to $66.03. There are now reports that a US citizen is missing in Iran which could escalate the standoff between Iran and the West leading to a disruption in oil supplies. Suggest you fill up early this week before petrol prices rip up ahead of the Easter break. The ACCC have said they will be keeping watch for price gouging (like that will matter). Gold up $2.70. Newcrest up 20c to 2353c.

The market is well up today suggesting the 1.3% fall yesterday on the back of strong retail and construction figures was an overreaction. The $A surged to a 10-year high overnight on belief that the RBA will hike rates come tomorrow morning 9.30am. The probability of an interest rate rise is now 66% according to the bond market, up from 40% early yesterday.

  • The big news this morning is Coles Group and Wesfarmers have both requested a trading halt. Wesfarmers (WES), one of the Macquarie consortium members has raided the Coles share register overnight and bought 11.3% at 1647c. Solomon Lew, who controls Premier Investments sold a 5.8% stake into the buying. With both WES and CGJ in a trading halt the next thing we are expecting to see is a bid for Coles at 1647c. From there we could see any number of other interested parties launch a bid including the KKR consortium and maybe even some of the European retailers including Tesco and Carrefour.
  • The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Macquarie Media Group (MMG) is set to bid for Southern Cross Broadcasting (SBC) as soon as tomorrow morning. The new media legislation comes into effect tomorrow morning. MMG is already sitting on 13.8% stake bought at 1650c. SBC is up 57c or 3.77% to 1680c and MMG up 5c to 446c.
  • Qantas (QAN) up 2c to 518c this morning. Deutsche Bank announced it has now upped its stake to above 10%.
  • Bank of Queensland (BOQ) have interim results tomorrow. They are bidding cash and shares for the Bendigo Bank (BEN) at the moment so their share price is all important — expect a decent set of results. UBS Warburg is forecasting NPAT of $50.8m. BOQ up 30c to 1730c.
  • Austal (ASB) up 13c or 4.1% to 330c after announcing a $223m contract to build four fast ferries, its largest individual contract to date. The ferries, due to due for delivery in 2009 will be built in Australia. Of course Bob Browning (ex Alinta) recently joined Austal to head up its US operations.
  • Stem Cell Sciences announced it closed its offer early and oversubscribed raising $12m. The company is expecting to list on the ASX under code STC on April 12.
  • Telstra (TLS) up 2c to 464c. The stock is up 13% since the beginning of March — JP Morgan has come out this morning saying it is 10-15% overvalued.

All eyes on the RBA tomorrow, the Media sector tomorrow and the possibility of a bid for Coles at 1647c. You should also know that $3.5bn worth of cheques are landing in BHP shareholder accounts this week…enough to keep the BHP share price aloft for a week or so as the money from the buyback is re-invested.

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