The market is up 67. The SFE Futures suggested a 40 point rise in the market this morning. The All Ords is testing a 3700 resistance ceiling — technically the next target up is 3950. Zinc stocks flying again. Gold stocks down.

The Dow was up 95. Up 139 at best. Down 67 at worst. Financials up 0.6% but underperformed the broader market. Industrials up 2.9%. Consumer discretionary stocks up 3.4%. Initial jobless claims better than expected. March housing starts down 11%. March permits less than expected. GE and Citigroup to post quarterlies before Friday’s trading bell. BHP down 0.33% and RIO up 4.25% in ADR form overnight. Metals all down. Oil price up 71c. Gold down $13.70. Bonds down. A$/US$ down.

Woolworths (WOW) post 3Q sales broadly in-line at $12.3bn – up 6.5% on-year. Said it’s on track to deliver sales growth in the upper single digits for the full year.

Lend Lease (LLC) said its Bovis construction unit was awarded two New South Wales state government contracts for the upgrade of 380 schools, with a combined value of $675 million.

  • SP AusNet (SPN) said that Victoria bushfires in February damaged less than 1% of its electricity distribution network. SPN said the damage wasn’t as bad as it expected and it hasn’t impacted its annual earnings guidance for the year to March 31.
  • Iluka (ILU) intends to accept an offer for its 51% Consolidated Rutile Ltd (CRT) stake by Unimin Australia.
  • Macquarie Infrastructure (MIG) post YoY declining revenue and traffic data in the March Quarter – weak economic conditions in Europe and the US impacting patronage.
  • United Group (UGL) said has been awarded a $230m construction contract at Woodside Petroleum (WPL) Pluto liquefied natural gas project.
  • Union Resources (UCL) make a takeover bid for its JV partner Bonapart Diamond Mines NL (BON). Minemakers Limited (MAK) made a previous bid for BON.

Other…

  • Australian import price index falls 2.8% in 1Q vs 4Q whilst the export price index dropped 4.6% over same period — a deterioration in country’s terms of trade.
  • Gunns (GNS) hit a 2.5-month high — financing for the proposed $2.2bn Bell Bay pulp mill likely to be finalized by end of June, according to Australian Financial Review.
  • Merrill Lynch note copper is up 74% since the December 2008 low, and don’t think there are any fundamentals which suggest it should stay that high. Expect more copper production and project cuts globally.
  • Kagara Limited (KZL) up over 20% this morning. Yesterday China’s second largest nickel producer, Jilin HOROC Nonferrous Metal Group Co, increased its stake in Australia’s Metallica Minerals (MLM — up 3%) to 15.1% to become its largest shareholder. Jien Mining Pty Ltd, an Australian subsidiary of Jilin, recently bought 14 million shares from Kagara (KZL), on top of 3.25 million shares it bought previously.
  • Credit Suisse upgrade Caltex (CTX) to NEUTRAL from Underperform due to share price underperformance.
  • Santos (STO) cut to NEUTRAL from Outperform by Credit Suisse due to a run up in their share price.
  • RBS Equities cut OneSteel (OST) to SELL from Hold and cut target to 210c from 230c after yesterday’s announcement about the $559m capital raising to pay down debt. RBS says OST’s debt covenants may be at risk. Macquarie Group keep NEUTRAL with 290c price target. Merrill Lynch up price target to 250c from 220c saying OST is now better positioned with production flexibility. Goldman Sachs JB Were say BUY but cut price target to 265c from 357c.
  • The IMF warns that the financial crisis is likely to be “unusually long and severe” and followed only by a “sluggish” recovery.
  • The Wall Street Journal, Westfield Group might be having a crack a US mall owner General Growth Properties after it sought bankruptcy protection.

The Dow Futures suggest a 20 point fall on Wall Street.

Peter Fray

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