The market is up 82 — strong day. The SFE Futures suggested a 58 point rise in the market this morning. All sectors rising. Resources up 2.9%, Industrials up 2.6%, Financials up 2.5% and Property up 2.9%. Banks all up 2-3% with NAB leading the way. BHP and RIO up 3.0% and 3.7%.

The Dow was up 168. Up all session — 241 at best. Best session in a week. The Fed Reserve said the recession is starting to ease. Financials stocks up the most. Advance quarter GDP much worse-than-expected. Investors chose to look at the bright spots of personal consumption and spending in the FOMC minutes. Fed Funds rate maintained at 0-0.25%. Fears about big banks including Citigroup and Bank of America requiring more capital. BHP and RIO both up in ADR form overnight — 5.22% and 7.45% respectively. Metals up. Oil price up $1.18. Gold up. Bonds down. A$/US$ up.

ALUMINA (AWC) raising $1.02bn through a deeply discounted share issue to reinforce the balance sheet. Expecting an issue of $644m in a 7 for 10 non-renounceable issue at 100c a share and will also raise up to $378m through a retail offer at 100c. Now in a trading halt at 149c.

  • Westfield Group (WDC) gave their quarterly review — retail sales in the March quarter slowed further — retail sales in the US which account for about half its malls contracted 8.4% on-year and down 3.2% on the last quarter. Overall, the Australian segment was resilient, and the US and the UK remain weak with continuing tough conditions. WDC reaffirmed FY EPS and distribution range at 94-97c.
  • Lihir Gold (LGL) posted strong 1Q gold output at 318,000 troy ounces, in line with guidance of 300,000+ ounces. Strong production driven by better-than-expected grades at Lihir Island and Bonikro.
  • Arrow Energy (AOE) reported a 16% fall in 3Q gas production, due to the sale of 30% of its local coal seam gas acreage to Royal Dutch Shell.
  • Avoca Resources (AVO) posted 3Q gold output at 270,688 tonnes at an average gold price of $1,365/oz. Said they had $43m in available funding at the end of the quarter — $36.8m in cash at the bank.
  • Woodside (WPL) said Vincent production wouldn’t resume until the end of June 2009.
  • Macquarie Infrastructure (MIG) posted March quarter traffic down 6.4% on-year.
  • BHP Billiton (BHP) announced they reached an in principle agreement with Alcoa to acquire JV interests of BHP in Suriname.
  • Qantas (QAN) posted March passenger numbers down 2.7% on-year to 3.2m.
  • Commonwealth Bank (CBA) note that Bankwest posted a $139m loss for 2008 pulled down by bad loans.
  • Gunns Limited (GNS) up another 5% early on confidence about the Bell Bay pulp mill financing arrangements being on track.
  • The ANZ Bank announced lower-than-expected 1H09 earnings yesterday — brokers react this morning with three NEUTRALS, one SELL and one OUTPERFORM.

The Dow Futures suggest a 39 point rise on Wall Street.

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

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