The market is up 9. The SFE Futures were up 2 this morning.

Wall Street closed up 1 overnight after reaching a two and a half year record high yesterday. We wake up to Anna Bligh’s “Tremendous relief” over tropical cyclone Yasi. Insurance stocks bouncing. In Egypt, pro Mubarak supporters clashed with protesters — a bit of a sideshow but everyone has an eye on it. The US ADP employment report showed more jobs were added in January than expected — main jobs numbers on Friday. The oil price was up 9 cents to $90.86. Gold was down $8.20 to $1332.10. The A$ was down to 100.84c from 101.17c.

Today’s main stories…

  • News Corp’s (NWS) 2nd Q earnings doubled on strong advertising markets. The results were in line with analysts’ expectations. NWS up 2.6%.
  • TABCORP Holdings (TAH) — Solid Interim Result — Net profit up 2.9% to $265.5m on revenue of $2.25bn. Declared a fully franked interim dividend of 24c as forecast at the time of the  demerger last year. Each of its three operating divisions reported positive revenues. TAH up 3.2%.
  • The ACCC has approved a 5-year alliance between Virgin Blue Holdings (VBA) and Etihad Airways. The airlines will cooperate on joint pricing and service scheduling across their networks, but will not share revenue. VBA up 1.3%.
  • BHP Billiton (BHP) has moved the Jansen Potash Project into the project feasibility stage — an “advanced stage of its approval process”. Jansen is expected to begin producing saleable potash from 2015. More oppress today about the pressure on BHP and RIO to pay bigger dividends after Vale ups their payout by 60-% and BP resumes paying dividends in the UK. BHP up 1.3%.
  • Insurance companies up as cyclone Yasi causes less damage than expected overnight. IAG up 3.6% and Suncorp up 3.1%.
  • QBE Insurance (QBE) is in a trading halt pending an announcement “on flood costs and other matters” including perhaps the Bank of America selling its Balboa Insurance unit to QBE. QBE unchanged at 1694c.
  • Maryborough Sugar Factory (MSF) in a trading halt pending a market update on the effects of cyclone Yasi on the company’s mills and crops. MSF unchanged at 300c.
  • The AIG /CBA Performance of Services Index (PSI) fell 0.9 points in January to 45.5. A reading below 50 indicates contraction in activity. A high Australian dollar, rising interest rates and the Queensland and Victorian floods to blame for the weak number.
  • Buildings approvals rose 8.7% in December but are down 5% in the year to December.
  • Stocks hitting 52-week highs: AGO, EZL, GIR, MTU, PFL, SGN, SPL, TSO.

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