The market is doing well – up 102 on the back of the strong rally late in Friday’s trading in the US. Financials outperforming with the CBA and the NAB up 4.6% and 4.2%. Resources up 2% with BHP up 1.5% and RIO unchanged despite the sharp fall in commodities Friday. Rio facing negative broker comments. Fortescue, down 1.8%, was downgrade by Macquarie Group to a target price of 100c. Leighton Holdings up 9.8% on winning a major $2bn contract for the extension at Dubai Airport.

The Dow was up 259. Up 310 at best. Down 258 at worst. Financial and tech stocks rallied hard in the last hour. Terrible jobs data – 6.7% unemployment – the highest in 15 years. Commodities down on poor jobs numbers. Treasuries down – bond investors take profits. Both BHP and RIO up in ADR form on Friday, 1.2% and 6.9% respectively. Oil price down $2.79 to $41.01 – analysts’ say oil markets should brace for a surprise decision on output cuts when OPEC meets on December 17. Gold down $13.30 to $752.20. A$ up 0.37% against the US dollar.

The cancellation of iron ore contracts – Suggestions on the front page of The Australian noting comments from the UK based Steel Business Briefing report that the Chinese are about to cancel a bunch of BHP and RIO contracts for iron ore in the first Q of 2009 saying they don’t want to be paying 2008 prices in 2009 (prices were up 86% last year). It appears to be part of the 2009 iron ore price negotiations due to begin in April although the China Iron and Steel Association want them to begin in January. 42 out of 71 Chinese steel makers lost money in October.

In the news today…

  • Santos (STO) doing well on the back of a report in the South China Morning Post saying China National Petroleum Corp is considering getting together with a partner and bidding for STO.
  • Pacific Brands (PBG) says although it will not require an equity raising it is considering its dividend policy.
  • PaperlinX (PPX) says its EBIT for the 1H will not vary by more than 15% from a year earlier.
  • AGL Energy (AGK) has released its 2008 sustainability report.
  • Arrow Energy (AOE) has temporarily relocated one of its coal seam gas drilling rigs in India because of a dispute with local villagers.
  • Qantas (QAN) CEO Alan Joyce is likely to reveal information regarding the progress of a possible merger with British Airways when he speaks at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
  • ConnectEast (CEU) announced actual average daily trips fell 3.6% in November compared to October.
  • James Hardie (JHX) has responded to an ASX share price query by saying negotiations with the tax office are ongoing.
  • Wesfarmers (WES) announce there was an incident at its Curragh coal mine with the costs impact yet to be fully assessed. There has been no structural damage to the drag line.
  • Lend Lease (LLC) has won a $1.4bn contract to deliver a new Gold Coast University Hospital.

Broker Stuff today…

  • UBS Warburg says Oz Minerals’ (OZL) balance sheet updates highlighted the worst fears regarding its refinancing situation.
  • Lots of broker comments this morning on Fairfax Media (FXJ) after its CEO David Kirk resigned on Friday. Credit Suisse maintain their Outperform recommendation and 270c target price saying Wednesday’s board meeting could well be the catalyst for the stock. J.P. Morgan has a Neutral recommendation and Macquarie Equities tip the stock to Outperform with an 184c target price. They expect stand in CEO Brian McCarthy to be confirmed as FXJ’s new CEO.
  • J.P. Morgan has cut its target price on Rio Tinto (RIO) to 3360c from 4550c despite maintaining their Neutral recommendation after revising their assumptions on production, prices and interest charges.
  • Macquarie put Fortescue Metals at UNDERPERFORM.
  • Merrill Lynch has revised its coal price forecasts and has upgraded Centennial Coal (CEY) to Neutral from Underperform but cuts Gloucester Coal (GCL) to Underperform from Buy and also cut Macarthur Coal (MCC) to Underperform from Neutral.

Other Stuff today…

  • Zimbabwe has issued a 200 million dollar bank note. Inflation is running at 321 million percent.
  • India cut interest rates for the third time since October. Their economic growth is the slowest in 6 years.
  • The Dow Futures suggest a 24 point fall on Wall Street tonight.

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