The market is up 9.  The SFE Futures were up 20 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed up 96 overnight. The Dow was up 2.8% last month and the S&P 500 gained 3.2%.  It was the third straight month of gains for the Dow and the sixth straight for both the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Personal income jumped more than expected in January after a cut in payroll taxes, while personal spending came in lower than expected. The oil price lost 60c to $96.97 as the Saudis and Kuwait say they will make up lost Libyan production. Gold gained 91c to $1409.90. The Aussie dollar is at 101.97, up from 101.46c.

Today’s main stories…

  • The results season is over.
  • Centro Properties Group (CNP) will sell its 588 US shopping centres to Blackstone Group for US$9.4bn Covering $8bn of debt in the Us operation. Centro will come out of the deal with over $1bn to pay down debt on its Australian operations. CNP last traded at 15c.
  • The Gillard government will today announce cuts to pathology sector funding in the May budget with Health Minister Nicola Roxon set to outline favoured options to industry today. Primary Health Care and Sonic Health-care have warned shareholders of the government’s cuts and also told patients to expect more out of pocket charges and reduced services. PRY down 3.1%, SHL down 1.6%.
  • ABARE has forecast Australia’s wheat and barley production to fall next year, but cotton output will soar. Wheat production will fall 7.6% in the year starting April 1 from record levels this year.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) has raised its stake in Riversdale Mining (RIV) to 16.99% as it pushes ahead with its $3.9bn bid for the company. The offer is subject to Rio Tinto acquiring more than half of Riversdale. RIO up 0.9%, RIV down 0.9%.
  • Equinox Minerals (EQN) down 6.3% after announcing a C$4.8bn hostile takeover bid for Lundin Mining. Lundin has said the offer is insufficient and has no strategic benefit, and several analysts agree, suggesting a higher offer may be necessary.
  • The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority yesterday ruled that billions of dollars of bonds held by banks would not qualify as liquid assets under Basel II guidelines. The ruling will have a marginal affect on funding costs with banks facing an increase in the cost of doing business.
  • Infigen (IFN) reported a first half net loss of $34.4m down from a loss of $15.8m in H1 2010. Depressed energy prices and foreign exchange movements impacted the result. IFN declared an interim dividend of 1c per share. IFN down 8.5%.
  • Downer EDI (DOW) announced a $279m capital raising yesterday (1-for-4 at 325c). The last price was 392c. They should open for trade tomorrow and will reflect weaker than expected results yesterday, no dividend and reduced full year guidance.

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