The market is up 40.  The SFE Futures were up 19 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed up 67 overnight. The Dow was up 98 at best and down 46 at worst. Commodity prices dominated the headlines overnight. The oil price hit a 30 month high and gold put on $10.40 to $1438, its sixth straight session of gains. The copper price increased by 2.5% and Zinc and Tin both added 4%. New home sales fell 16.9% in February to 250,000, from 301,000 homes in January, the lowest level of new home sales since data was first collected in 1963. The Aussie dollar increased to 101.24c compared to 101.10c.

Today’s main stories … quiet day on the news front.

  • David Jones (DJS) up 3c to 463c after getting a mixed review from brokers following their interim earnings result yesterday. The general consensus is that the retail sector is sill on the dive and DJS is well placed to take advantage of any cyclical upturn.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) has been awarded $317m worth of new gold mining contracts. A $200m contract with Newcrest Mining at their Telfer mine and a $117m contract with Crocodile Gold. LEI up 8c to 2924c.
  • Westpac Bank (WBC) says the quality of their lending assets is improving after a solid start to the year. Their balance sheet remains strong with a Tier 1 capital ratio of 9.2%. WBC up 24c to 2327c.
  • Qantas Airways (QAN) has increased their fares for domestic, regional and trans-Tasman flights for the second time since February as a result of fuel prices. QAN up 4c to 213c.
  • The ACCC has given preliminary approval to current access arrangements for bulk wheat exports at ports operated by GrainCorp (GNC). GNC up 13c to 745c.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) has upped its ownership in Riversdale Mining (RIV) to 37.25%, up from 35.89% yesterday. They offer was extended to April 6. RIO is up 83c to 8151c.
  • IOOF Holdings (IOF) and Centro Properties Group (CNP) are both in a trading halt. IOF last traded at 57.5c and CNP at 7.9c.
  • Caltex Australia (CTX) announced that margins in its refining business fell in the month of February due to a rise in the oil price. CTX down 5% to 1535c.
  • Acrux (ACR) has declared their first dividend of 60c a share (unfranked). ACR up 7% to 370c.
  • Patersons maintain their Buy recommendation and 985c target price on Bradken (BKN) and believe the recent sell off has been overdone. BKN announced a lower than expected earnings result. BKN up 4c to 763c.
  • Companies going ex dividend today include: CPT Global (1.5c), IMF (10c), Oroton Group (22c), The Reject Shop (23c) and Webjet (5c).

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