The market is up 32. The SFE Futures suggest a 19 point rise in the market this morning.

The Dow Jones was up 34 overnight – It moved in a relatively narrow 52 point range and finished higher for the third consecutive session on the back mixed economic numbers and a good performance from the energy sector thanks to a 3% rise in the oil price. There was plenty of economic data for the market to digest, sales of new homes fell 8.3% in August to the lowest level in 7 years, GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.8% in the 2Q, less than the 4% rise previously reported, and 15,000 less Americans claimed unemployment benefits last week. In other news, Sallie Mae put on 9.1% after a consortium led by J.C. Flowers said it is trying to renegotiate a deal with the company and Wal Mart announced they are expanding their drug prescription program by about 10% in a hope of stealing market share and boosting sales. The NASDAQ closed up 0.4%, the US Federal Trade Commission is questioning whether Google’s $3.1bn acquisition of DoubleClick Inc. will give them a “stranglehold” in the online advertising market. Google say they are confident the acquisition will be approved.

Resources outperforming today, +1.9% this morning compared to the 0.8% gain from ASX200. BHP up 127c to 4479c and RIO up 115c to 10860c. Metals mostly up overnight, Zinc up 2.9%, Copper up 2.2%, Nickel down 2% and Aluminium was unchanged. Zinifex up 22c to 1822c. Oil price up $2.55 to $82.86 on concerns that the tropical storm near Mexico will disrupt supplies. Woodside up 130c to 5022c. Credit Suisse maintained their “Neutral” recommendation and 5250c target price on the back of WPL’s decision yesterday to sell its Mauritanian assets to Petronas for US$418m. They say the sale price “looks attractive”. Gold up $4.40. Newcrest up 75c to 2935c. The stock is up 30% in the last month.

The market is doing well today but a quiet today on the news front. The market is about to enter the Dec quarter – it has been a good Q, particularly for the ASX200, the average rise in the last 6 Dec Q has been a huge 6.78%.

  • The AFR has reported that the Seven Network (SEV) is in advanced talks to buy Austar’s (AUN) regional Wi-max spectrum. AUN up 5.5c to 162.5c this morning on the back of the news. SEV down 4c to 1321c.
  • Lend Lease (LLC) announced it is forming a JV deal with Grosvenor Group to acquire a 50% interest in a developing project in Preston, UK known as Tithebam worth around $1.6bn. Construction is expected to start in 2010 and finish in 2013. LLC has put on 18% in the past 12 months but is down 9c today to 1881c.
  • Macquarie Bank (MBL) announced they have received approval from the Federal Treasury for their proposed restructuring of the company. ABN AMRO maintained their “Buy” recommendation after announced yesterday it had acquired Canadian financial company, Orion Financial. They have an 11000c target price and say the takeover should provide a useful platform for MBL’s continued expansion into Canada. MBL up 95c to 8476c.
  • UBS Warburg maintained their “Buy” recommendation on Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and 2800c target price saying they remain positive on ERA because of mine life extensions at their Ranger mine. ERA up 4.5% today to 1934c.
  • Toro Energy (TOE) announced this morning that Oxiana (OXR) has accepted their takeover offer for its shares in Nova Energy (NEL). TOE, who is offering 5.5 of its share for every NEL, has now taken its relevant interest in Nova to 60.2%. NEL up 15% to 360c, TOE up 0.5c to 81.5c and OXR up 8c to 387c.
  • According to JP Morgan, AMP and AXA remain top picks in the insurance sector. They have a “Buy” recommendation and say both are capable of surprising on the upside. They have an 1179c target price for AMP.
  • STW Communications (SGN) up 4% to 260c after the The Australian said UK’s WPP Group could make a bid for the company as soon as today. No announcement as yet…WPP upped their stake in SGN to 19.5% from 18.2%.
  • Australian September TD-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge +0.2% from +0.5% in August.
  • US$ fell to new lows overnight the Euro.
  • Companies going ex-dividend include – AUB, CWP, MCK, MRM, NBL, PMP, SGM, SSM, TRG.

MARCUS TODAY will not be publishing on Monday – it is a holiday in most states, however the market is open but it is expected to be pretty quiet (a non-settlement day for the ASX) – it is also the first day of the school holidays for NSW.

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