The market is down 35.  The SFE Futures were up 2 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed down 1 overnight, while the Nasdaq closed down 0.5% on ongoing weakness in the semiconductor sector and a weak outlook from Texas Instruments. European debt crisis back in focus with Portugal’s 10-year bind yield rising to a euro-era record high. The oil price fell 64c to $104.38 on US inventory numbers and the prospect of a special meeting of OPEC. Gold up $2.40 to $1429.60 and the Aussie dollar up 5c to 101.03c.

Today’s main stories…

  • Unemployment numbers weaker than expected with unemployment at 5.0% and unchanged with job numbers down 10,100 instead of up 20,000 as expected – there was some suggestion it would go under 5% at which point it is generally seen as full employment and inflationary. Delays the need for a rate rise. QLD unemployment 5.6%. 4.2% in WA. 2.3% in NT. 5.0% in VIC. SA 5.8%. ACT 3.5%. 4.8% in NSW.
  • Rotation — Resources really taking it in the neck today. There is a rotation from resources to more defensive stocks including the banks and bonds as the market becomes more risk averse in the face of Middle East and European deterioration.
  • A $21bn US bond auction was well bid last night.
  • Gaddafi is sweating on the imposition of a no-fly zone. Western and Libyan jets going head to head is probably not something traders want to wake up to.
  • There are ‘Day of Rage’ protests in Saudi Arabia tomorrow.
  • A host of Chinese economic numbers are due out today and tomorrow.
  • RIO has upped its bid for Riversdale Mining (RIV) to 1650c on the condition it gets more than 50% interest by the 23rd March. RIV up 2c to 1515c.
  • Equinox (EQN) — EQN has announced a better than expected 4th Q and Full Year profit today with the headline “Equinox generates operating cash flow of $467m in 2010”. The $4.6bn Lundin bid has dragged the price down 23% in a week. EQN down 3.4%.
  • Woodside (WPL) East Timor have threatened the development of the $14bn Sunrise LNG project (Woodside has 33.4% with Shell and ConocoPhillips most of the rest) saying they would consider cancelling the 50 year treaty over the project with Australia if the gas is not pumped to an LNG plant on East Timor. WPL up 0.3%.
  • Neptune Marine Services (NMS) starts trading again today. It was suspended at 22c last year and has just completed a $65m 3.6 for 1 entitlement capital raising (by Patersons and Euroz) at 5c to pay down debt and provide working capital. Opened at 5c and hit 5.5c.
  • Seven Group (SVW) is suing Ten Network (TEN) and its newly appointed CEO, former Seven executive James Warburton over an apparent breach of employment contract. SVW down 0.2%, TEN down 4.3%.
  • New Zealand’s central bank has cut its benchmark interest rate 0.5 points to 2.5%.

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