The market is down 29 — bit disappointing — underperforming the 26 point rise predicted by the SFE Futures this morning. All sectors down. Property falling heavily again on the back of the Westfield $2.9bn capital raising yesterday — 276.2m new shares — WDC down 13% early on — sector down another 8.3%. BHP is up 0.7% on posting interim results at the bottom end of the expected range. Fortescue up 5% early on restructuring some shipping contracts with Bocimar. RIO down 1.4%. Base metal stocks mixed. Industrials down 1.1%. Banks all down 1-2% except for Westpac Bank which is up 1.2%. The results season isn’t looking good and the market is sitting back to wait at this stage.

The Dow was up 141. Up 175 at best. Down 31 at worst. Positive December pending home sales and some positive quarterly results lifted the markets. 9 out of 10 sectors up. Tech stocks strong for the second day in a row. Some good earnings from healthcare stocks – Merck up more than 5% on positive 4Q results, Schering-Plough also posted results ahead of consensus — up 7%. House-builders up over 8% on the back of the unexpectedly high pending home sales figure — up 6.3% in Dec. Financials down 2.5% — uncertainty around the Obama stimulus package and “Bad-Bank-Plan.” PNC Financial’s lack of clarity regarding their balance sheet also hurt the sector. Citigroup planning on tapping part of the $36.5bn in TARP funds for new loans – announced plans to increase spending. BHP up 3.5% and RIO up 8.19%. Metals up. Oil price down 1.2%. Gold down. Bonds down. A$/US$ up 3.2% to 65.15c.

BHP Interim Results out. Made US$6.128bn before exceptional items up 2.2%. After exceptional items the result was down 56.5% to $2.62bn… but no-one focuses on that. The attributable profit number looks like the bottom end of expectations and compares with consensus range of $6.1bn to $8.1bn and consensus average of $6.9bn. Aluminium, copper and nickel weak (base metals down 103%), iron ore (up 147%) and coal good. Oil up 36%. Dividend in line with expectations at US41c. No definite earnings guidance.

  • David Jones (DJS) said they are on-track for 1H profit growth to be up 5% on year — reaffirmed guidance. 2Q sales down 6.6% on-year to $619.9m. 1H sales down to $1.06bn — down 6.5%.
  • Qantas (QAN) still in a trading halt over $500m capital raising. Also posted 1H net profit in-line with consensus at $210m. 1H passengers down 0.7%. 1H revenue seat factor down 2.4 points. 1H revenue up 1.7% on-year to $7.9bn.
  • Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) said Elders rural bank posted 1H net profit of $22.4m.
  • Australand Property (ALZ) FY08 net profit down 85% to $40.2m. Asset valuations down $97m at Dec 31. Final dividend will be 3c. Needs to refinance $563m before June 25.
  • Murchison Metals’ (MMX) Jack Hill resource exceeds 1bn tonnes.
  • Fortescue Metals (FMG) restructure their Bocimar shipping agreements giving a 4% boost to share price first thing.
  • PanAust Limited (PNA) says gold revenue planned to rise as feasibility resumes.

BROKER STUFF…

  • Macquarie Group kept BHP at NEUTRAL with a 3809c target before BHP’s results this morning. ABN AMRO had them at HOLD.
  • Macquarie Group maintain West Australian Newspapers at UNDERPERFORM with 325c target after their poor results yesterday. GSJB Were keep SELL and 420c target.
  • ABM AMRO cut target on Westfield Group to 977c after their $2.9bn raising. Merrills cut to 1350c. GSJB Were keep HOLD with 1139c target. Macquarie Group maintain OUTPERFORM with 1120c target.

OTHER…

  • ABN AMRO cuts contract coking coal forecast for 2009-10 to US$125/ton, down 38% from previous forecast and down from US$305 achieved during 2008-09 due to adverse weather.
  • The Australian government’s plan to roll out an additional $41.5bn fiscal stimulus package has hit a roadblock with the coalition saying it’ll oppose the measures, … says the package is more “than is appropriate” right now with the budget set to sink into deficit.
  • The Dow Jones futures suggest a 19 point rise on Wall Street tonight.

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