The market is up 7. The SFE Futures were down 22 this morning.

Wall St. closed down 49. The Dow was down 2 at best and down 74 at worst. Market fell all day on mixed economic data. Gold fell $1.10 to $1122.70. The Aussie dollar fell to 90.68c versus 91.63c yesterday morning. The FOMC decide on interest rates tonight.

Making the news today…

  • Westpac Bank (WBC) — AGM — CEO Gail Kelly tells shareholders that the bank has started the 2010 financial year strongly and that it is well positioned given the improving economic outlook. She reiterated that impairment charges to bad loans had most likely peaked and that the Australian financial system is in excellent shape. WBC up 15c to 2395c.
  • Front page of the AFR tells us that Qantas (QAN) has the green light to merge with another airline after the federal government eased foreign ownership restrictions on the company. It must however remain 51% Australian owned. QAN up 1c to 270c.
  • Orica (ORI) says despite the strong Aussie dollar, earnings for the first two months of the financial year are tracking ahead of last year. It is also alert to merger and acquisition opportunities arising from the financial crisis and but is focused on growth in its existing opportunities. ORI up 12c to 2518c.
  • Mirabela Nickel (MBN) has successfully raised $37.8m through a placement of 16.4m shares at 230c to mostly institutional investors. MBN unchanged at 242c.
  • APA Group (APA) announces its estimated interim distribution of 15.25c for the six months, a 5% increase on last year. Morgan Stanley recently raised its target price on APA to 346c from 301c.
  • Argo Investments MD Rob Patterson says it is happy to be guided by AXA’s board decision on the improved AMP takeover offer. ARG up 4c to 665c.
  • Stockland (SGP) has raised $300m through a new February 2015 bond which is issued in exchange for buying back $175m of maturing June 2011 notes. SGP up 1c to 394c.
  • Australia’s GDP increased by a lower than expected 0.2% in the 3Q and rose 6.5% from the year-earlier period. Economists expected a 0.4% rise.
  • Macquarie Media Group (MMG) says it sees a pick up in the Australian advertising market but its US unit continues to struggle. It will pay an interim distribution of 3.5c and estimates 1H operating cash earnings of 11.7c. MMG down 2c to 194.5c.
  • Street Talk says if the implied valuations from Exxon Mobil’s $US41bn takeover offer for XTO Energy in the US are on the money, then Santos (STO) and Origin Energy (ORG) are “dirt cheap” targets. STO up 1.7% to 1384c and ORG up 1.06% to 1618c.

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

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