The market is up 29. The SFE Futures were up 28 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed up 84 overnight. The Dow was up 105 at best and put on 0.7% on better than expected earnings results. Weekly initial jobless claims fell to 382,000 for the week ending March 19, from 387,000 last week. European stocks closed higher despite the Eurozone debt crisis coming back into focus with debt situation deteriorating on both Portugal and Spain. The oil price fell 15c to $105.60 and gold put on $3.10 to $1434.90. The Aussie dollar is at 102.13c compared to 101.24c yesterday; just shy of the 102.56c hit on New Years day.

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

  • Woodside Petroleum (WPL) up 4% to 4745c on talk it will be bid for by BHP Billiton after a $9bn currency trade goes through the market from euro to A$. Also talk it could be to finance a bit for Fosters beer division from SABMiller. FGL up 2.1%.
  • Premier Investment (PMV) has hired ex David Jones CEO Mark McInnes as the CEO of their retail business. PMV’s brands include Just Jeans, Peter Alexander and Portmans. PMV up 14c to 609c.
  • Brambles (BXB) has received final approval from the US regulator to go ahead with their $1.24bn acquisition of plastic container pooling service IFCO Systems. BXB down 9c to 694c.
  • BHP Billiton (BHP) announced they will spend around $US10bn to expand iron ore operations, energy and metallurgical coal projects in WA. BHP down 18c to 4453c.
  • ING Office Trust (IOF) announced they are in discussions concerning the future management of the funds. IOF currently in a trading halt and last traded at 57.5c.
  • Goodman Group (GMG) has placed their second bond issue so that the can repay existing debt at an effective fixed cost of 6.375% for a term of 10 years. GMG up 0.3% to 71c.
  • QR National (QRN) has approved a $185m expansion of the Goonyella coal rail network as part of a major expansion of the Hay Point Coal Terminal in QLD. QRN up 2c to 326c.
  • Centro Property Group (CNP) announces the sale of their US assets and major restructure developments. Patersons’ analyst has recommended avoiding CNP, which is trading at 7.1c, down 10% today.
  • Incitec Pivot (IPL) has signed a syndicated bank facility that will replace the syndicated bank facility entered into in September 2008. IPL down 1c to 433c.
  • The newspapers today report the Lachlan Murdoch wanted an executive role at Ten Network (TEN). TEN down 0.5c to 118.5c.
  • Companies going ex dividend today include: Around 25 REIT companies go ex distribution today. MYR goes 11c ex dividend, Crown 18c and Seven Group Holdings 18c.

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