The market is up 23. The SFE Futures were up 38 this morning. Solid start to the week.

The Dow closed up 97. Dow up 101 at best and down 23 at worst. Gold price fell $1 after two consecutive days of heavy gains, Oil price jumped 3.3% and the Aussie dollar was at 85.21c vs 83.97c Friday morning.

Junior iron ore miners, Atlas Iron (AGO), Brockman Resources (BRM), BC Iron (BCI) and FerrAus (FRS), have appointed an engineering company to undertake a pre-feasibility study into a 50m metric ton export port in Port Hedland. The cost and availability of ship-loading facilities has always been a major issue for smaller iron ore players. The alliance has the potential to deliver 50m tons of iron ore by 2013, delivering $200m in new royalties for the state. The alliance is also not limiting its numbers to four, it has been approached by other companies which are currently in discussions.

In the news today…

  • Sigma Pharmaceutical (SIP) is in a trading halt until September 11 pending an announcement on an acquisition and potential capital raising. SIP last traded at 121.5c.
  • Spotless Group (SPT) has made a cash takeover offer for the all the shares in NZ based Taylors Group that it doesn’t already own. SPT is seeking a unanimous recommendation from the independent directors of Taylors. SPT up 3c to 238c.
  • Elders (ELD) down 44.8% after announcing at the close on Friday a FY loss of $415.4m and a $550m capital raising, of which $475m will be underwritten. The size of the raising is surprising considering it only has a market cap of $319.5m. The CEO was on the TV at the weekend saying they came close to bankruptcy.
  • Orica (ORI) has announced an extension of $2.1bn in debt facilities with existing lenders. Its gearing in March stood at 26%, down from 43% in September last year. It has $1.48bn worth of debt on its balance sheet. ORI is up 61% in 2009. ORI down 1.5% today.
  • Street Talk say the ACCC has sent letters out to mortgage industry participants asking for their view on the NAB’s planned acquisition of Challenger Financial Group’s mortgage business. NAB up 20c to 2741c.
  • The Australian says BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto are in talks about a potential $1bn merger of their Canadian diamond operations. It won’t make a material impact to earnings.
  • Macquarie Airports (MAP) said an independent expert has labeled its $345m management internalization proposal fair and reasonable. Security holders will vote on it on September 30.
  • Myer is set to officially agree to a $3bn IPO at a meeting on Thursday with the company set to list before Christmas.
  • IMF ups its economic growth forecasts.
  • The CBA PERLS offer to institutional investors and sophisticated investors has by all accounts been well oversubscribed with significant scale backs in stock allocations expected.
  • The AIG-HIA performance of construction index increased 2.9% in August. Apartment buildings fell for the 19th consecutive month.

Notables going ex-dividend today include: AMP Ltd (AMP) 14c, Leighton Holdings (LEI) 55c, Lend Lease (LLC) 16c, Mitchell Communications (MCU) 2.1c, Seek Ltd (SEK) 4.7c and Woolworths (WOW) 56c.

The Dow Futures were unchanged at midday.

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

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