The market is up 178. 55 points are thanks to the big four banks. The SFE Futures were suggesting an 11 point rise in the market this morning despite a 448 point rise in Wall St in the last two sessions.

Dow Jones was up 187 overnight on good home sales numbers and a continued rebound in financials. It was up 261 at its peak. Bloomberg says the S&P is trading on a PE of 13.82x, the first time it has been below 14x since October 1990. Financials up 3.4% at the peak. Banks, brokerage and insurance sector up 0.7% and up 14% in a week. JP Morgan upped their offer price for Bear Stearns from $2.52 to around $10 and bought a 39.5% stake through a new issue of stock supported by the Bear Stearns board without the need for a shareholders vote – a slightly symbolic event suggesting maybe the bottom of the credit market trouble has been hit. The stock hit a high of $171 last year. Existing Home sales has their first rise in seven months – up 2.9% against forecasts of a fall of 0.8%.

Some fuss about the 20% fall in the HBOS share price in the UK on Thursday (followed by its quick recovery). There was talk that the Financial Times was going to run a story saying they have 128bn pounds of customer liabilities that needed rolling in credit markets and that they needed to be bailed out by the Bank of England. The FSA are conducting a criminal investigation into who started the rumours.

  • Both BHP and RIO up in ADR form overnight, 1.48% and 2% respectively. BHP up 93c to 3480c and RIO up 270c to 11890.
  • Metals down overnight – Zinc down 6.2%, Aluminium down 2.7% and Nickel 2.8%. Copper down 1.8%. Zinifex up 32c to 957c.
  • Oil price down 87c to $101.70 – China’s crude oil imports increased by more than 18% last month compared to a year ago to 3.6m barrels a day. Woodside down 4c to 5122c.
  • Gold down $1.30. Newcrest down 82c to 3048c.
  • Bonds down with the 10 year yield up to 3.53% from 3.34%.

Making the news today…

  • ABC Learning Centres (ABS) has extended its talks about the sale of its US assets with Morgan Stanley Private Equity by a day. ABS up 9c to 139c.
  • AGL Energy (AGK) announced it will sell its GasValpo Chilean gas distribution business and associated assets for US$90m. AGK up 44c to 1120c.
  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) and St. George Bank (SGB) both expect a before tax gain from their shareholdings in Visa Inc after it listed on the NY stock exchange last week, gains of $355m and $75m respectively. CBA up a big 6.8% or 270c to 4200c and SGB up 6.5% to 2779c.
  • The ANZ Bank Directors (including Charles Goode) who bought into their own shares recently were derided for their futile effort at support of the share price. It matters no longer what people think….they are all now making money. ANZ up 4.5% to 2403c.
  • IBA Health Group’s (IBA) UK division has won a $47.8m contract extension with the NHS Shared Business Services. IBA up 3c to 48c.
  • Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP) announced a 24% fall in FY net profit to $77.2m, analysts expected $78.87m. SIP up 5c to 127c.
  • Santos (STO) has announced its Managing Director John Ellice-Flint will step down after 8 years. STO down 2c to 1301c.
  • No news from CBH Resources (CBH) after a Sydney Morning Herald report on Friday saying the company had reached a $500m all-stock merger with Perilya (PEM). CBH unchanged at 25c and PEM unchanged at 100c.
  • Mincor Resources announced a new nickel resource of 20,800 metric tons contained metal. MCR up 12c to 273c.
  • Woodside Petroleum (WPL) said production as its Neptune oil and gas project in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to be down by 150,000 barrels of oil equivalent per month from April 1 due to ongoing problems. WPL down 30c to 5096c.
  • A lot of property trusts go ex dividend today.
  • The Federal government says it wants to assume control of regulation regarding margin lending, mortgage broking and non-bank lending from Australia’s stat and territory governments.

In the MARCUS TODAY newsletter today we have an article titled “Innocent Beliefs” – it includes a lot of ingrained beliefs in the Australian market that have recently been punished – many of which are now probably worth buying into at the bottom of the market.