The market is down 4. The SFE Futures were down 3 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed down 6 overnight, but hit a new 52-week intraday high. The Fed released its policy meeting minutes which showed officials are increasingly concerned about the inflationary effects of rising food and energy prices. Bernanke said that inflation must be watched “extremely closely”. China increased its benchmark interest rate by 25-basis points. The gold price reached a new record high of $US1458.60, while the oil price fell 13c from a 30-month high. The Aussie dollar dropped from 103.69c to 103.21c after the RBA left interest rates on hold.

Today’s main stories…

  • Flight Centre (FLT) are on track to achieve a record full year pre-tax profit of $220m to $240m, reflecting a 10-20% improvement on the prior year, with guidance not materially affected by recent natural disasters. The company said that trading in most of its markets is performing well. FLT down 0.2% to 2257c.
  • Ausdrill (ASL) plans to sell $149.5m in new shares to fund the purchase of plant and equipment for new projects. The company will seek to raise $129.5m from institutional and sophisticated investors at $3.50 per share, a 9% discount to yesterday’s close of $3.85 and an additional $20m from retail shareholders under a share purchase plan. ASL is in a trading halt and last traded at 385c.
  • Foster’s Group (FGL) may face a $39.5m tax claim related to their former brewing business in India, which is now owned by SABMiller. FGL down 0.9%.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) said its interest in Riversdale Mining (RIV) has risen to 46.78%, just below their target of 47% that they set for effective control ahead of a deadline this evening. RIO down 61c to 8555c, RIV up 7c to 1644c.
  • Southern Cross Media (SXL) plans to sell $471m in new shares after reaching 90% acceptances for the takeover of Austereo Group (AEO). SXL will pay AEO shareholders an additional 10 cents per share in cash after reaching the 90% level and proceed with compulsory acquisition of the remaining shares. SXL will now raise equity in an underwritten 6-for-7 accelerated renounceable entitlement offer at $1.45 per new share. SXL is in a trading halt and last traded at 173c.
  • Newcrest Mining (NCM) up 2.7% after gold hit a new record high overnight.
  • The number of home loans approved in February fell 5.6% from January. A 1.5% fall had been forecast by economists. Total housing finance value fell 4% in the month, to $19.34bn.
  • Stocks going ex-dividend today: ASL, AUB, AUF, DJS, GBT.

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