The market is down 23. The SFE Futures were up 3 this morning.

The Dow closed down 36 on Friday. Dow up 1 at best and down 90 at worst. European markets also down. FTSE -0.76%. Dax (Germany) down 1.16%. CAC40 (France) down 1.42%. Oil down 43c to $59.93. Gold down $3.70. Aussie dollar down to 77.96c.

Lots of weekend press about the Chinese detention of four RIO executives involved in iron ore negotiations. They have been detained by the Chinese secret police and the development has struck fear into the world’s company executives dealing with China for a number of reasons. RIO down 2.1% to 4735c. BHP down 5c to 3260c.

Making the news today…

  • Karoon Gas (KAR) up 8% after its CEO talked up the company on ABC Inside Business on the weekend and compared it to Woodside Petroleum.
  • Fortescue Metals (FMG) – Quarterly Report – 4Q total ore mined came in at 8.9m tons compared to guidance of 7m tonnes, with 7.98m metric tons being shipped during the quarter, taking the total for the FY to 27.3m metric tons.
  • Pharmaxis (PXS) announced it will voluntary de-list from the Nasdaq Global market.
  • Innamincka Petroleum (INP) announces it is farming in to a significant opportunity in Bass Strait, earning it 5% participating interest which is located in a rich area.
  • Seven Network (SEV) confirmed its substantial stake of 18.3% in Consolidated Media Holdings (CMJ).
  • CSR Ltd (CSR) says it is considering a range of options for the planned demerger of its sugar and renewable energy business.
  • Babcock & Brown Power (BBP) says its bank syndicate has agreed to lower its loan facility and reiterates FY09 EBITDA forecast of $260m-$270m.
  • Virgin Blue (VBA) in a trading halt pending an announcement.
  • iSOFT (ISF) wins three new contracts worth $1.6m.

In other news…

  • Southern Cross Equities believes News Corp (NWS) is a growth stock “priced at a value multiple” and that recent management comments indicated earnings downgrade cycle has bottomed.
  • Some broker comments on Nufarm (NUF) this morning after cutting its profit guidance on Friday. UBS cut its target price to 980c from 1090c and has a Neutral recommendation and Merrill Lynch has a Hold recommendation saying caution is required.
  • Morgan Stanley lifted its rating on Transurban Group (TCL) to Equalweight from Underweight after a 52% fall in the stock since May 2007.
  • Chinese GDP numbers on Thursday. Expecting + 7.9% although the Chinese are talking it down to +7.5 from 6.1% last quarter.

The Dow Futures are up 19 at noon.

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

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