The market is down 16. The SFE Futures were down 5 this morning.

Wall Street closed down 10 overnight but was down as much as 83. The Dow ended its eight-day rally. The federal budget deficit grew $49.8bn in January, less than the $59.5bn expected. Initial claims and wholesale inventories were also better than expected. Egyptian President Mubarak said he will not stand down until September’s elections. The gold price fell $3.00 to $1362.50 while the oil price was up 2c to $86.73. The A$ fell from 101.18c to 100.41c.

Today’s main stories…

  • Rio Tinto (RIO) released earnings results last night. Underlying earnings in line with expectations — Underlying earnings came in at $13.99bn, up 122% from last year, in line with analysts’ expectations of $14.1bn. They also announced a $5bn share buyback. RIO down 1.4% today to 8741c — the broker research this morning was extremely positive.
  • Newcrest Mining (NCM) — increased underlying profit by 96% to $523.1m, this excludes the restructuring of hedges and costs associated with the Lihir Gold acquisition. Declared a final dividend of 10c. CEO Ian Smith will step down and be replaced with executive director Greg Robinson on July 1. NCM down 32c to 3738c.
  • The ACCC has approved Fletcher Building Group’s $797m takeover of Crane Group (CRG). CRG up 3c to 945c.
  • Telstra (TLS) up 5c today to 293c after Communications Minister Stephen Conroy announced that TLS and NBN Co have finalised the key commercial terms for a deal allowing NBN Co to use Telstra’s infrastructure to build the national broadband network.
  • Aquarius Platinum (AQP) – H1 net profit was $94.3m, up from just $3.9m for in H1 2010 due to higher prices for precious group metals and greater output from its mines. AQP up 2% to 645c.
  • Guinness Peat Group (GPG) will sell down its assets in a “strategy to realize value”. It is planning an initial capital return to shareholders of $119.4m. GPG said it would not make new investments, but would contribute capital to existing investments if that was viewed as value enhancing. The market likes the announcement — GPG up 11% to 59c.
  • Gunns (GNS) has entered a trading halt pending a “a transaction which is relevant to the finalisation of the half year results release”. GNS last traded at 52c.
  • RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the RBA board had the view was that while the impact of the floods on the short-term path of output and prices would be quite substantial, monetary policy should not respond to those effects. He added that “while the recovery efforts may add a little to aggregate demand over the latter part of 2011 and 2012, those effects should be manageable”.

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