The market is down 4.  The SFE Futures were up 18 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed up 8 overnight after being up as much as 57. The ADP Employment report ahead of the main jobs numbers on Friday showed more private sector jobs were added was than expected in February. The oil price rose $2.60 to $102.23, its first close above the $100 level since Sept of 2008, as US demand numbers rose and Gadhafi ordered air strikes on protesters near a key oil terminal. Gold rose $6.50 to $1437.70, another record high. The Aussie dollar is buying 101.54c.

Today’s main stories…

  • Downer EDI (DOW) has completed the institutional component of its $279m capital raising. It raised $200m from the 1-for-4 capital raising at $3.25 per share and the 1.8m shares remaining were then sold through a bookbuild at $3.75. DOW will now undertake the $79m retail component of its capital raising, which opening March 8. DOW down 2.3% on the theoretical ex rights price.
  • The AIG /CBA Performance of Services Index was up 3.2 points at 48.7 in February, but remained below the 50 level that separates expansion from contraction. This is the fourth consecutive month the service sector has contracted and business conditions in Queensland are expected to weigh on service industries “for several months”.
  • Telstra (TLS) is looking into outsourcing up to 1,200 back-office jobs to lower-cost destinations, in the first step of “Project New to reduce costs, boost productivity and improve customer service.” TLS down 0.4%.
  • The AFR says the ACCC is expected to announce that Chi-X will be granted permission to operate a second exchange as early as September or October. Goldman Sachs says if the merger between SGX was rejected, ASX would trade between $31-$34. ASX up 1.3%. Now 3608c.
  • In response to the proposed carbon tax, BlueScope Steel (BSL) CEO Paul O’Malley said that BSL would not be able to afford the $300m-$400m a year in additional taxes that a $25/tonne tax would impose and would have to shut its Port Kembla steelworks in NSW. OneSteel (OST) said the tax would threaten the survival of its Whyalla steelworks in SA and cost $115m. BSL down 2%, OST up 1.1%.
  • Total dwelling approvals dropped 16% to 12,342 in January after a 10% rise in December. The number of houses approved fell by 2.4%, while “other dwellings” dropped 31%.
  • Stocks going ex dividend today: FWD, IAG, IFL, ILU, KCN, PPT, WAN.
  • Stocks hitting 52 week highs: AQG, BPT, CWP, MND, MTU, RCR, RPX, TAL, UXC.

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