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

Wall St. closed up 23 on Friday. The Dow was up 151 at best and down 54 at worst. Gold was the major story after falling $48.80 or 4% to $1169.50. The job numbers came in ahead of expectations suggesting the US economy might be on track for a turnaround. The unemployment rate fell to 10% from 10.2%. Oil closed down 99c to $75.47 and the Aussie dollar fell to 91.42c from 92.49c yesterday morning.

Making the news today…

  • Westpac Bank (CEO) has a strategy briefing this afternoon. It is likely to update the market on its St. George merger and what current trading conditions are like. CEO Gail Kelly will also come under pressure after WBC decided to increase mortgage rates by 45bps, 20bps above the RBA’s rate rise. WBC up 11c to 2415c
  • BHP and RIO formally agreed on the weekend to combine their iron ore mines and signed a binding agreement. It will put the $US116bn deal to competition regulators for approval. BHP down 75c to 4065c.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) announces it has sold its 50% stake in Hydrogen Energy International to BP for an undisclosed sum. RIO down 70c to 7115c.
  • Street Talk suggests Transurban’s Canadian bidders (Pension Plan Investment Board and Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan) may be back with another bid sooner than we think. Both are looking to lock in stable earnings that are at least indexed to inflation which makes TCL a perfect fit. TCL up 1c to 549c.
  • Talk of Fortescue Metals (FMG) announcing an upgrade of its estimated resource at its Solomon mine but is not expected to be a major catalyst for the share price which has funding issues hanging over it. FMG up 7c to 436c.
  • Metgasco (MEL) up another 18% today to 99c — it has doubled in the past week — after announcing a major conventional gas discovery in NSW.
  • Origin Energy (ORG) announces that it has been prevented from buying the whole 51.55% stake in Otway Gas Project from Woodside Petroleum (WPL) after a JV partner exercised its pre-emptive right in the project. ORG up 12c to 1583c, WPL down 41c to 4869c.
  • ANZ Bank (ANZ) has completed the acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland’s Viet Nam businesses. ANZ up 21c to 2219c.
  • The number of Job Ads increased 5.3% in seasonally adjusted terms in November from October to an average of 140,658 ads per week.
  • Construction Activity fell for the second month in a row — 3.3 points to 47.6c — meaning it contracted rather than expanded.
  • Stock hitting fresh yearly highs include: Cash Converters (CCV), Amcor (AMC), PanAust (PNA) and Red Hill Iron (RHI).

The Dow Futures are down 73 at midday.

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

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