The market is up 15 — was up 26 earlier. Financials up 1% after a strong session in US financials Friday. Industrials up 1.2%. Major miners down — BHP down 1.4% and Rio down 1.9%. The zinc and nickel sectors are flying on higher metal prices. Major energy stocks mixed. Gold stocks all down on the falling gold price. BEN struggling after its trading update — down over 8.6%.

The Dow was up 39. Up 41 at best. Down 81 at worst. Financials led a rally at the end of the session — closed up 4.2%. Europe’s HSBC raises $17.7bn. US Healthcare stocks continue to struggle. Consumer staples underperform. Energy stocks up. Materials up on the higher metal prices. The US Government’s nonfarm job report showed another 663,000 out of work — unemployment rose from 8.1% to 8.5%, in-line with expectations. March manufacturing index down more than expected with economic contraction continuing. BHP and RIO both up in ADR form Friday — 0.20% and 1.76% respectively. Metals all up. Oil price down slightly. Gold down $11.60. A$/US$ down to 71.57c.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) getting smashed after releasing its Trading Update – says its final dividend will be cut and lowered its cash earnings per share guidance by as much as 25% to 70-75c (or $205m-$218m). It had previously forecasted EPS growth. It hasn’t ruled out further capital raisings despite saying it is comfortable with its capital position. It will also retain its dividend payout ratio of 60-70% and has experienced a deterioration of in net interest margins over time. BEN up 24.8% in the past month yet still down 39.7% in the past year.

Also in the news…

  • Crown (CWN) says it is not in any discussions with MGM or Dubai World in respect to any investment in City Centre despite what the newspapers are suggesting this morning.
  • IAG Insurance (IAG) says its share purchase plan raised $84.4m. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, IAG aims to at least double its presence in Asia, particularly in India.
  • ASX Ltd (ASX) says the value of trades fell 31% in March totaling $89.4bn. Daily average value fell 40% to $4.1bn.
  • Santos (STO) has acquired the remaining interest in the Chuchie Field.
  • Austal (ASB) has received an order for a 107 meter ferry for around $106m to be delivered mid 2010 to a Maltese operator.
  • ConnectEast (CEU) says traffic on EastLink was up 2% in March compared to February 2009.
  • Eastern Star Gas (ESG) and joint venture partner Orion Petroleum (OIP) has released a coal seam gas activity update.
  • Extract Resources (EXT) has recruited GRD Ltd (GRD) to conduct the feasibility study for its Rossing South Uranium Project in Nambia.
  • IBA Health Group (IBA) has opened its Lorenzo health studio in the US.
  • Industrea (IDL) has won a $20m contract with China Shenhua Energy Co.
  • Neptune Marine (NMS) has locked in a $10m contract with Woodside’s Pluto LNG Project.
  • Singapore Telecommunications (SGT) has released a company update.
  • IMF Australia (IMF) has been appointed by Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited to recover lost investment funds.

Other Stuff…

  • Citi suggest Seven Network (SEV) may make a takeover play for Fairfax Media (FXJ) at around 150c a share without having to take on any debt.
  • JP Morgan has upped Wesfarmers (WES) target price to 1987c from 1803c despite lowering their earnings expectations. Maintains Neutral ratings and expects only modest growth from Coles division.
  • Billabong (BBG) has been cut to Neutral from Buy due to recent outperformance. Maintains its 870c target price.

The Dow Futures suggest a 30 point rise on Wall Street tonight.

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

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