The market is down 13. The SFE Futures were up 4 this morning.

The Dow Jones closed up 33 overnight. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% and broke above the 1333 resistance level. Portugal said that it will apply for bailout funds. There is a threat of a US government shutdown on Friday if leaders cannot agree on the budget – it was last shutdown in 1995. The gold price gained $6 to $US1458.50. The oil price gained 49c to $108.83. The Aussie dollar is now at a new record high of 104.7 US cents.

Today’s main stories…

  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) is in a trading halt pending an announcement “in relation to any revisions to previous guidance”. Thought to be a profit warning. LEI last traded at 2894c.
  • The FIRB has approved Japanese interests taking a stake in Lynas Corp (LYC). The Japanese company intends to put $325m into LYC in the form of a loan and the acquisition of $25m in new shares. LYC unchanged at 243c.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) said its interest in Riversdale Mining (RIV) has risen to 49.53%, edging it closer to securing the takeover. RIO last night secured the more than 47% stake it had been targeting, triggering an offer price increase to $16.50 a share to value RIV at US$4bn. The offer has been extended 5 times since December and is set to close April 20. RIO down 11c to 8599c and RIV up 10c to 1652.
  • In response to SGX’s takeover bid for ASX Ltd, Treasurer Wayne Swan is said to be preparing a major regulatory overhaul of Australia’s financial settlement systems, which could be released as early as Sunday. ASX down 42c to 333c.
  • Australia’s unemployment rate fell to 4.9% in March from 5.0% in February. Total employment rose by a seasonally adjusted 37,800 with full-time employment up 32,100 and part-time employment up 5,700. Economists had forecast total employment to have risen by 20,000 in March and the unemployment rate to remain at 5%. The participation rate was up 0.1% in March to 65.8%.
  • Seek Ltd (SEK) says the number of new jobs advertised was up 23% in March on the same time a year ago as Australia’s labour market continues to grow steadily. New jobs ads were up 2.6% in March and job applications have increased. SEK down 1.2%.
  • The AIG-HIA performance of construction index fell 5.2 index points to 39.4 points in March. Australian construction activity contracted for the 10th consecutive month due to falls in new orders and employment. A reading below the 50 point level indicates a contraction in activity.

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