The market is up 38. The SFE Futures suggested a 2 point rise in the market this morning. The market is up despite starting the session down 31 points — a good effort considering the rapid fall in the 135 Dow futures yesterday afternoon and the 50 point fall in the Dow overnight — fear about swine flu relatively contained at this stage. Financials up 0.5%. Resources up 1.0%. Industrials and property stocks up 1.2% and 1.5%.

The Dow was down 51. Up 46 at best. Down 89 at worst. The WHO raised the global alert on swine flu to stage 4. Healthcare stocks, biotech and pharmaceutical stocks up. Insurers up. Airline and travel related stocks down on Swine Flu fears. BHP and RIO both down in ADR form overnight — 3.10% and 0.69% respectively. Metals down. Oil price down. Gold down. Bonds up.

NAB INTERIMS — National Australia Bank (NAB) have posted half year results — A little bit below expectations — 1H cash profit of $2.027bn just shy of consensus of $2.09bn (down 9.4% versus expectations of a 7% fall) — but broadly in line with analyst’s forecast range of $1.9bn-$2.27bn. Bad debts up to $1.8bn — a little above expectations. The 73c dividend was down 24.7% at the lower end of forecasts (72-75c) but in line with NAB’s own forecast. Bit of a cautious outlook statement. NAB down 1.8%.

Also in the news today…

  • Healthscope (HSP) at an investor briefing in Malaysia said their strong 1H performance is continuing in the 2H and are on track for guided FY result.
  • Macquarie Airports (MAP) post 1Q Copenhagen EBITDA down 29% on-year – below some analyst’s expectations with higher-than-expected operating cost.
  • James Hardie (JHX) notes the Chilean litigation case has resulted in the former Volcan Unit to pay US$13.4m in legal costs.
  • Roc Oil (ROC) agreed to a farmout agreement of its 45% interest in its only Angola asset to Argentina’s Pluspetrol Resources Corp.
  • UXC Limited (UXC) in a trading halt.

Other…

  • ABB Grain (ABB) is expected to issue a statement later this morning on a report in The Australian Financial Review that Canada’s Viterra is currently in talks to buy ABB. Viterra apparently approached ABB with offer of between 900c-950c/share. ABB up yesterday at 3 month high of 700c — a 13% gain from Friday’s low of 620c.
  • UBS cuts NPAT forecast on glass earnings at CSR Limited (CSR) but maintains BUY with 160c target.
  • AGL Energy (AGK) upgraded to BUY from Neutral by UBS with price target lifted to 16ooc from 1520c with upside from privatization of NSW electricity assets.
  • UBS cut Macmahon Holding’s (MAH) price target to 33c from 60c after downgrading FY09 NPAT guidance down to the $15-$20m range from $40m. RBS downgrade to HOLD from Buy.
  • RBS ups their Lion Nathan (LNN) price target to 1200c from 855c following the Kirin bid.
  • US Q1 GDP numbers on Wednesday night – expected to fall 4.0% to 4.9% … not as bad of the last Q fall of 6.3%.
  • Merrill Lynch says the 4% fall in Qantas’ (QAN) share price on the back of swine flu concerns is “overdone”.

The Dow Futures suggest a 29 point fall on Wall Street.

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

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