The market is having another good day — up 35 — in line with the 44 point rise suggested by the futures this morning. The ASX 200 is now up 16.8% from its low of 3120 registered on Tuesday March 10.

The Dow was up 174. Up 181 at best. Up all session. Financials up 1% but lagged. Resources strong. The government unveiled their new financial rules to govern Wall Street — they propose a central exchange for derivatives trading and more power to intervene and close down large failing firms. Seven year treasury auction found good support. Tech stocks outperformed. Retailers and discretionary stocks up strongly — strong earnings from some major consumer brands. Final 4Q GDP read not as bad as expected. Initial jobless claims up. Continuing claims at record high. BHP and RIO both up in ADR form overnight — 5.05% and 8.35% respectively. Metals up. Gold down. Bonds up. A$ up. Oil up.

Rio Tinto (RIO) having a great day up 6.5% — it has hit a 4 months high after putting on 8.3% in ADR form and 7.35% in the UK overnight. Its CFO said even if the Chinalco deal didn’t eventuate, the company has a “Plan B”.

Oz Minerals (OZL) in a trading halt — suggestions yesterday were that if the takeover of OZL by China Minmetals failed, OZL’s only options would be sell assets (Crown jewels) to pay down its $1bn in debt. Suggestions BHP might be interested after it raised $US6.25bn in US and European bond markets over the past week.

In the news today…

  • Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) in its presentation pack said it remains cautious in the short to medium term due to increasing difficult market conditions. Said its credit quality remains strong ($82bn in liquid assets) and is not seeing any systematic issues in its commercial loan portfolio.
  • Crane Group (CRG) in a trading halt — it is planning an institutional placement of up to $40m for acquisition opportunities.
  • United Group (UGL) has extended a contract with the NSW government’s rail operator to supply 72 passenger railcars worth $320m.
  • Macarthur Coal (MCC) has provided an update on its currency hedge position — confirms FY09 sales targets of 3.9m tons a year.
  • Crown (CWN) has completed is share purchase plan at 495c a share raising a total of $340m.
  • St Barbara (SBM) has bought $22.5m worth of convertible notes.
  • Futuris Corp (FCL), Timbercorp (TIM) and Great Southern Plantation (GTP) has secured a Bluegum export price of $207.4 ton.
  • Bow Energy (BOW) doing well — an executive is set to tell an LNG conference in QLD today that the company is targeting “mid-tier company gas reserve targets” of around 2,500 petajoules of 3P reserves by 2011.
  • Ausenco (AAX) released their 2008 Corporate Review.
  • IBA Health (IBA) has repaid AEP the $61.9m it owed it.
  • DUET Group (DUE) says Multinet (it holds a 79.9% stake in it) has secured funding to refinance $135m in medium term notes.
  • Citadel Resources (CGG) has announced it will raise $22.4m shares by issuing 213.4m shares at 10.5c.
  • Lion Nathan (LNN) has appointed a new director.
  • Sunland Group (SDG) in a trading halt.
  • Hedley Leisure and Gaming Property Fund (HLG) announced a $5.5m 1H09 NPAT – in line with expectations but 41% below last year.

Broke Stuff today:

  • Merrill Lynch has cut BHP Billiton (BHP) to Neutral from Buy saying it much prefers Rio Tinto (Buy). They no longer find valuation compelling enough to maintain a “Buy rating”.
  • Royal Bank of Scotland has initiated coverage on Alumina (AWC) with a Sell recommendation and target price of between 123c-125c saying the recent re-rating on AWC is unjustified given inventories are at record levels.
  • Qantas (QAN) has been upped to Buy from Hold by Citi despite cutting its target price to 210c from 250c and expecting Standard & poor to downgrade QAN’s credit rating to BBB from BBB+ in the near future.

The Dow Futures suggest a 9 point fall on Wall Street.

MARCUS PADLEY is the Author of the MARCUS TODAY Daily Stockmarket Newsletter.

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