The market is down 36 — up 17 at best. The SFE Futures suggested a 10 point rise in the market this morning. Financials. Property stocks and industrials up early but all dropped into the red before noon. Resources and energy stocks down after their decent run yesterday. BHP and RIO down 2.3% and 2.0%.

The Dow was down 16. Up 33 at best. Down 63 at worst. ISM Services index better-than-expected. Bernanke optimistic — predicts the economy will return to growth this year. Investors more cautious on financials before the bank stress-testing results Thursday. Financials down 1.2%. Energy and material stocks down. Healthcare stocks down. BHP and RIO both down in ADR form overnight — 1.26% and 1.95% respectively. Metals mostly up. Oil down. Gold up.

Westpac Bank (WBC) — Interim Result — market seems to like it — WBC up 2.5%. Announced a 1H NPAT of $2.175bn down 1.2% from $2.202bn last year. Cash profit — closely watched by analysts — fell 6% to $2.295bn. Headline result in-line with general expectations. WBC cut its dividend by a higher-than-expected 20% to 56c from 70c. Provisions for bad loans were up more-than-expected to $1.56bn from $433m a year ago — partly reflecting WBC’s loan book quality and exposures to commercial properties. Revenues were strong with margins robust and above some broker’s expectations.

  • David Jones (DJS) released 3Q Sales numbers down 9.2% on-year to $411.6mn. DJS said 3Q sales better than expected but were down 10.8% on a like-for-like basis. Said they remain on track to deliver 0-5% growth in NPAT both in the 2H09 and for the FY09.
  • Boral (BLD) sells Adelaide Brighton (ABC) stake equating to 18% of shares on issue — worth $210.3m at $1.95/share. Sold stake to institutional investors to reduce debt and bolster their balance sheet.
  • Origin Energy (ORG) acquire Wind Power increasing their wind portfolio by 1460MW.
  • Santos (STO) reiterated 2008 production guidance of 52-56mmboe and will continue their capital management strategy.
  • AGL Energy (AGK) reconfirm FY09 NPAT, EBITDA and dividend guidance.
  • Iress Market Technology (IRE) note they expect EBITDA growth in the 1H09 over that of 2H08. Said flat EBITDA for FY is still possible.
  • Toll Holdings (TOL) acquires full ownership of ST-Anda Logistics in China by buying the remaining 49% stake.
  • Goodman Fielder (GFF) may divest non-core Comml Edible Fats and oil businesses to focus on consumer brands.
  • Commonwealth Property Office Fund (CPA) expects demand for office space to remain weak this CY — reaffirm distribution guidance for 4.2c/unit for the six months ending June 30.
  • CFS Retail Property Trust (CFX) note retail sales in its portfolio of shopping malls were resilient in the March quarter despite challenging conditions — reaffirm 12.5c distribution /unit in line with consensus.
  • AXA Asia Pacific (AXA) note 1Q inflows were down 37% on-year to $1.5bn with an increase in outflows.
  • Seek (SEK) announces that they expect FY09 NPAT and pre capital raising EBITDA to be lower than FY08.
  • United Group (UGL) maintain FY09 guidance albeit at the lower end of the 10-20% growth range.
  • Perseus Mining (PRU) out of a trading halt having raised $75m in capital.
  • Retail sales have come in better-than-expected — they grew 2.2% in March and 1% for the quarter. Economists had predicted a rise of 0.5% for the month and 0.8% for the quarter.
    Trade surplus has also come in better than predicted — it shot out to $2.50bn, the market expected $1.75bn.

The Dow Futures suggest a 30 point fall on Wall Street.

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