The market is down 40.  The SFE Futures were down 28 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed down 88 on Friday after being down 188 points in the final hour of trade. The all important jobs numbers were in line if not a bit better than expected with the unemployment rate down to 8.9% — the lowest in 22 months. Fighting in Libya continues to intensify with concerns that it will spread to Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The oil price rose $2.51 to $104.42 with reports of Libyan oil facilities ablaze. Gold gained $12.20 to $1428.60 and the Aussie dollar fell to 101.28c.

Today’s main stories…

  • sale — Private Equity group CVC Asia Pacific sells its 49.1% stake in at 492c (last 524c) for $565m — a 6% discount. CRZ down 4% at 503c.
  • ConnectEast (CEU) has recorded its highest average daily traffic in February with average daily revenue up 11.3% from February 2010. CEU down 1.1% to 44c.
  • Allied Gold (ALD) says 3rd quarter production will be at the lower end of its guidance, while full year production forecasts remain unchanged. ALD unchanged at 65c.
  • Coal price up — Talk that Xstrata has tried to set a thermal coal price of $145/t FOB with a Japanese power company … higher than the spot price of $130/t. 11 coal stocks go into the ASX 300 on March 18th in the latest rebalance.
  • Salmat (SLM) have had a bit of a profits warning as Telstra cancels a call centre contract. It has knocked about 6% off guidance for the full year. SLM down 5.3%.
  • Iron ore resources in demand — The Chinese state at their National People’s Congress said that they are looking to diversify their iron ore supply away from the monopoly suppliers (BHP, RIO and Vale) and the interpretation is that they are in the market to buy their own resources involving taking stakes in Australian companies holding iron ore resources.
  • Fortescue (FMG) announced after hours on Friday a cut in March iron ore production guidance of 0.5mt to 8.5-9.0mt in the March Q thanks to wet conditions. There are some 2% earnings downgrades around this morning.  FMG unchanged at 660c.
  • Challenger Group (CGF) gets a good write up in The Australian highlighting that they are in sweet spot for offng annuities as an alternative to stockmarket investment for baby boomers. CGF down 1c to 490c.
  • Stocks going ex dividend today: BHP (45.803c), AGG, BPT, BXB, CDD, FLT, MML, MND, PAN, SFH, SXL, TOL.
  • Stocks hitting 52-week highs: ENV, FML, MQA, MTU, RPX, TAL, WOR, WRT.

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