The market is down 3 and lifeless – not as good as the 36 point rise the SFE Futures had predicted this morning.

WALL ST UP 36 – Wall St. moved in a 183 point range and finished the session higher on expectations of further interest rate cuts. Energy stocks closed up for the third consecutive day – Exxon Mobil up 1.79% and ConocoPhillips up 2.1% – after another 2% rise in the oil price overnight. Bank of America and Chevron Corp finished higher after being added to the Dow Jones Industrial Average. General Motors put on 6.4% on expectations it will announce a better-than-expected profit result. AIG did cause a few concerns, the world’s largest insurer by assets had its worse session in 20 years – down 12% – after it was established the company used faulty accounting and understated losses on some holdings. The company acknowledged that its credit-derivatives portfolio lost $4.88bn in market value in October and November, more than four times the $1.15bn executives had estimated in December. The NASDAQ finished 0.7% higher – Yahoo hit a 3 months high after it officially rejected Microsoft Corp’s $44.6bn takeover offer, claiming it “substantially undervalues” the company and that it would need to be increased.

There are a number of companies that have reported results today and fallen over despite the results being outwardly OK. Cochlear down 7.5%, JB Hi-Fi down 9.6%, Mirvac down 5.8%. In this market good results are OK and OK results are not good enough. In the news today…

  • The NAB’s business confidence index has taken a dive – down 9 points to minus 4. Loest since 9/11 2001.
  • AWE has identified hydrocarbon showings at its Lisah-1 exploration well in Indonesian. AWE up 2c to 326c.
  • Construction at Babcock & Brown Power’s (BBP) 330 megawatt Neerabup power station will begin immediately. BBP unchanged at 226c.
  • According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Macquarie Group (MQG) is in talks to buy Allco Finance (AFG). AFG still in a trading halt, last traded at 305c, MQG down 40c to 5966c.
  • BHP sent a letter to shareholders that says they will be patient and discipline in the takeover bid for rival Rio Tinto. BHP up 51c to 3636 and RIO up 313c to 12493c.
  • Allegiance Mining (AGM) has applied to the Takeovers Panel to declare unacceptable circumstances in relation to Zinifex’s $775m bid. AGM down 2c to 104c. ZFX up 24c to 925c.
  • Cochlear (COH) announces a 1H NPAT of $57.1m, up 17%. A touch below the $60m analysts expected. COH down a big 7.5% or down 485c to 6015c.
  • JB Hi-Fi (JBH) releases better-than-expected 60% increase in 1H net profit to $41.9m. JBH getting thumped – down 9.6% or 121c to 1143c.
  • Mirvac (MGR) announces operating profit of $215m, up 41% from last year. MGR down 24c to 424c.
  • Webjet have had good results this morning – doubled profit. Made $3.4m EBITDA against forecasts of $3.1bn. They have beaten forecasts despite a profit upgrade from the company ahead of the results. WEB up 8c to 152c.
  • Macquarie Equities say UK economy is trouble, including the UK property sector.
  • Bradken goes ex-dividend today 15c.

The market is beginning to feel very bearish. It seems unlikely to make consistent progress until we can see through to the other side of this global slowdown. For now we still seem to be in the early stages of realisation, a long way from rationalisation and even further from resurrection.

Got some advice from my wife last night. Valentines Day doesn’t mean flowers and chocolates, but it does mean I want “something”. Anything. Some sign that the fires haven’t gone out. You have two days to sort it out. There should be a help line for this sort of thing. 1300 INLOVEBUTBUSY.

In the MARCUS TODAY newsletter today we have an updated Results Diary.


Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey