The market is up 5. The SFE Futures suggested a 34 point rise in the market this morning.

The Dow Jones was up 75.7 – It moved in a relatively large 126 point range and closed in record territory for the second consecutive session on the back of better-than-expected earnings results and lingering takeover activity. Mastercard, Time Warmer and Cablevision Systems all reported better-than-expected results ahead of analysts’ forecasts and the Bancroft family, owner of Dow Jones & Co. rejected News Corp’s $5bn bid. The Bancrofts have been unwilling to sell in the past but talk is they will turn to other media companies in order to generate a bidding war. In economic news, the Commercial Department announced factory orders increased 3.1% in March, more than the 2.2% economists expected. The S&P 500 finished at 1495.92, its highest level since September 2000 and the NASDAQ closed up 1% to levels not seen since February 2001.

Resources mixed today. BHP up 20c to 2996c and RIO up 55c to 8330c. Metals mixed overnight. Copper down 0.4%, Nickel up 0.4% and Zinc up 0.1%. Zinifex up 37c to 1734c. Aluminium down 0.5%. Oil price down 65c to $63.78 after an Energy Department report showed that refiners increased fuel output last week. Woodside up 47c to 4085c. Gold down $2.20. Newcrest down 8c to 2252c.

The market is looking a little more stable today after yesterday’s massive 92-point gain in the ASX 200. Westpac (WBC), Corporate Express (CXP) and Western Australian Newspapers (WAN) all reported good earnings today. (see below) A bit of takeover activity and talk around…pretty normal these days.

Westpac (WBC) have put out their interim results this morning and the share price is down a bit. Basically the results are in line with expectations. Cash earnings are $1.672bn versus consensus of $1.66bn. The dividend was 63c against some forecasts for a bit more than that. No earnings guidance of note other than to say they expect strong earnings growth in 2007. All a bit of a yawn although they are still good results. Here’s a stock consistently yielding 6.4% including franking and growing earnings at 13.8%. Not many of those around. Its shares are down 17c to 2737c, one technical analyst on the news wires is saying the price chart suggests likely rise to 2850c target of bull flag pattern with support at 2743c.

  • Corporate Express (CXP) was another one to report this morning, its stock is up 14c to 748c after it reported a 14% increase in NPAT to $23.2m, slightly better than expected. The AFR also reported that it could be a potential bid target for its Dutch parent.
  • Austar (AUN) is the big mover today, up 13c or 8.2% to $1.73 after the AFR reported today that Foxtel or one of its owners are finalising a bid around the 180c mark.
  • Westfield Group (WDC) had its AGM today, Chairman Frank Lowy said he’s “confident the coming year will be another good one, with increased operational segment earnings” and he talked about being well positioned to keep growing organically and via acquisitions. There are whispers about a major capital raising underway somewhere in the local property sector. WDC up 9c to 2141c.
  • Bolsini Gold (BSG) remains in a trading halt after it jumped 7.5% yesterday. Talk is that it will announce a capital raising and buyback of Canadian listed Palmarejo Silver & Gold (which is 74% owned by Bolnisi already) although there are also suggestions they have had a bid approach. BSG was last quoted at 330c.
  • Western Australian Newspapers (WAN) has announced its normalized profit (excluding one-off items) was up 20% to $93.7m for the nine months to 31 March. The result was helped by strong economic conditions in WA as revenue jumped close to 32% to $333.1m. WAN down 13c to 1652c.
  • Qantas (QAN) up 3c to 537c. APA acceptances for the bid are up from 25.94% to 32.96% with the general expectation that they will get to 50% by Friday 7pm allowing the bid to be extended by two weeks.
  • There is talk of a Leightons (LEI) bid for Multiplex (MXG). MXG was up 4.7% yesterday. If you remember Multiplex have announced a bid approach already from Canadian private equity firm Brookfield Asset Management Inc who want to buy their operating businesses but not their property trust. Both MXG and LEI have denied the bid speculation according to the newswires. LEI is up 3.33% on the back of that thinking. They have also been rumoured as buyers of United Group (UGL). Lot of smoke in the sector. Where’s the fire?

We have an article in Marcus Today listing Cheap Stocks, the 40 stocks in the ASX 200 with a PE under 15x. Even if the market is expensive (average industrials PE is now 18.1x) it doesn’t mean there isn’t value on offer. Play the balls not the course.

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