The market is down 23. The SFE Futures were up 9 this morning.

The Dow closed down 53 points after being up on the open on good economic numbers. The market reversed after Ben Bernanke ruled out another round of quantitative easing taking the gold price down 5% or $91.40 to $1696.30. The ECB lent another 530 billion euro under its LTRO program — it hardly moved the market. The Aussie dollar is lower after rising to its highest level in almost three weeks. After buying 108.57¢ last night, it is now at 107.34¢. Oil was up 0.3%. All S&P 500 sectors were lower except for consumer staples which ended the day up 0.2%. Material stocks were worst, down 1.9% as metal prices fell. Energy stocks also underperformed, down 1.1%. European markets were lower.

Main points:

  • Woolworths (WOW) net profit was down 16.8% to $996.9m in line with consensus. EBITDA was up 4.1% to $2.28bn. Profit fell on the restructure of its Dick Smith stores with comments about cautious consumer spending. Interim dividend of 59c below an expected 61c. Guidance for NPAT in the range of 2%-6% for the full year versus a consensus of 2.4%. WOW expects a $300m provision for the closure of its Dick Smith stores this year.
  • Henderson Group (HGG) interim results reported last night were in line with guidance. Profit up 59% to GBP159m in line with consensus of GBP156m. This does not take into account the Gartmore integration cost of GBP70m. Fund outflows (lost clients) were worse than expected, with GB1.6n in the 4th Q against the GBP1b expected. Weaker flow numbers and uncertain outlook has seen the share price down 2.7% in the UK.
  • Leighton Holding’s (LEI) subsidiary is being investigated by an Iraq Oil Ministry anti-corruption unit to determine whether it paid bribes for information allowing it to win a US$1.3n tender. Inside information would have allowed Leighton to acquire details of rival bids and tender the lowest bid.
  • Cockatoo Coal (COK) had results yesterday. Patersons has a HOLD recommendation and a 39c target price this morning in line with the current share price.
  • New Hope Corp (NHC) has terminated its sale process having had potential bidders doing due diligence for a while. It did not receive a “definitive proposal which appropriately reflects New Hope’s strategic value and growth prospects”. Remove the takeover premium and the Patersons target price is $4.90 per share.
  • Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (BEN) has announced it has been given the green light to complete the acquisition of Bank of Cyprus Australia.
  • Qantas (QAN) has won the Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) charter contract from Sky West Airlines. The contract is expected to be worth $35m in annual revenue. FMG plans to fly more workers into Perth this year as iron ore production expands.
  • Gloucester Coal (GCL) is due to update the market next week on whether the merger with Yancoal Australia is given the green light. The merged entity will be an $8 billion listed coal miner. If the deal does not go through it is expected GCL will sell a minority stake in its Abel mine.
  • Singaporean Wilmar International has not decided whether it plans to launch a full takeover of Goodman Fielder (GFF). There is speculation that the company is waiting for GFF’s share price to decline before making a move. GFF shares have risen 30% since Monday.

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