The market is up 28. The SFE Futures were up 41 this morning.

The Dow closed up 69 points overnight after being down as much as 167 before rising in the final hour of trade. The jump came on news that Italy has asked China to make “significant” purchases of Italian debt. The Europeans are also talking about an “orderly” default for Greece. The Greek government has announced further spending cuts and tax hikes that will cut an extra €2bn off its deficit – an ECB requirement before they received further bailout funds. The gold price was down $46.20 to $1813.30, while the oil price was up 95¢ to $88.19. The Aussie dollar was down at 103.58¢ from 104.17¢.

Today’s main stories…

  • Metcash (MTS) says they intend to complete the $215m acquisition of the Franklins supermarket chain on Friday when they will be free to drop a key condition of the takeover offer. MTS up 0.7%.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) subsidiary Habtoor Leighton Group has been awarded a $US300m Oman government roads building contract.  LEI up 6¢ to 1788¢.
  • Nufarm (NUF) has settled its long-running dispute with Monsanto, saying they would take a $28m hit to profits when they finalise their accounts this month. NUF up 8.7% to 423¢.
  • Chinese mining investor Hanlong Mining had assets frozen and its executives banned from leaving Australia as part of an investigation into insider trading relating to their $1.3 billion of planned investments in Sundance Resources (SDL) and Bannerman Resources (BMN). Sundance down 15.7% before a request to be placed in a trading halt pending an announcement. BMN down 5.8%.
  • OneSteel (OST) CEO Geoff Plumer has called for interest rate cuts in response to the high Australian dollar. He said there were “distortionary”’ factors making the Australian dollar “unnecessarily high” and affecting the steel industry’s ability to compete. OST down 1¢ to 132¢.
  • Deloitte Access Economics reports that retailing posted its worst result in 20 years in 2010-11. They said prospects for the retail sector look set to go from “bad to worse” and that “the implications from the financial market volatility and further deterioration of consumer confidence in August are yet to be seen in the retail sales data”.
  • The NAB index of business confidence dropped 10 points in August to -8 from 2 in July. This was its lowest level since April of 2009 and below the long term average of 6 points.
  • Stocks hitting 52-week lows today: ALS, BCS, CSV, CTY, FPH, KAM, MCP, PPX, SXE, TAP

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