The market is up 23. The SFE Futures were down 2 this morning.

Wall Street closed down 19 overnight. Bernanke said the economy is barely expanding at a sustainable pace and US quantitative easing program bond purchases could be expanded. Obama says he is willing to compromise on extending Bush-era tax cuts beyond the YE. Euro zone finance ministers proposed increasing the size of the €750 billion bailout fund but were rejected by Germany.  The oil price was up 19c at $89.38. Gold was up $9.90 to $1416.10. The A$ fell 9c to 99.08c.

Today’s main points…

  • ASX Ltd (Ltd) says its merger with the SGX is in Australia’s best interest and that the government risk offending Asian investors if it blocks the sale. ASX up 4c to 3794c.
  • The AFR says Nathan Tinkler will take a 19.9% stake in Coalworks (CWK) as part of its $25.4m capital raising at 65c. CWK is in a trading halt and last traded at 70.5c.
  • Primary Health Care’s (PRY) Ed Bateman now owns 13.6% of Vision Group (VGH). PRY down 2%, VGH unchanged at 27.5c.
  • Treasurer Wayne Swan is expected to announce measures to increase competition amongst the banks and outline plans to create a fifth pillar.
  • Both the AFR and The Australian report that the new $12bn Westfield Retail Trust closed yesterday and the take-up will fall short of the $3.5bn worth of units on offer.
  • BlueScope Steel (BSL) is looking to take advantage of improved lending conditions and is seeking to refinance $1.25bn of bank loans. BSL unchanged at 207c.
  • Fairfax Media (FXJ) fell 2% yesterday after CEO Brian McCarthy resigned. FXJ up 2.1%.
  • QR National says all its rail lines that had been closed due to flooding and heavy rain are now re-opened and no impact on earnings is expected. QRN unchanged at 268c.
  • Stockland (SGP) has purchased a $4bn site 35km north of Melbourne to develop a master planned community. SGP up 0.8%.
  • The Oil price is now above $90 a barrel for the first time since October 2008.
  • Silver prices have hit 30 year highs on the back of European debt-contagion fears and Ben Bernanke hinting that he might have to engage in a third round of quantitative easing.

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