The market is down 12. The SFE Futures were down 16 this morning.

The Dow closed down 3 points after being down as much as 53. The S&P 500’s slight Friday fall was driven by declines in seven of its 10 industrial sectors. The gold price was down $12.40 to $1709.80. Oil down $2.14 to $106.70 a barrel. Each of the 10 S&P 500 sectors was down except Consumer Staples. European markets were mixed. Spanish and Italian 10 year bond yields below 5% — seems the market has pigeon holed Greece as a problem and is otherwise not concerned about Europe in the short term. Aussie dollar was down buying $107.38.

Main points:

  • Chinese growth forecasts downgraded – China’s Premier Wen Jiabao talking at the National People’s Congress in Beijing says China is targeting 7.5% growth this year with an inflation target of 4%. That’s the lowest GDP target since 2004 and below the consensus forecast of 8.5% growth. Growth was 8.9% in the 4th Q. For the full year 2011 growth was 9.2% against 10.4% in 2010…and it is notable that the growth target for both those years was 8.0%…so the target may well be conservative rather than a leading indicator.
    A lot of ex dividends today including: QBE, BXB, ILU, WOR, AIOCoca-Cola Amatil (CCL) has decided not to proceed with the acquisition of Foster’s Australian spirit and spirit RTF businesses. As a result of this decision CCL will receive $34m from SABMiller.Western Areas NL (WSA) has reached an agreement with Kagara (KZL) to acquired 100% of Kagara Nickel P/L for $68m. WSA will fund the purchase from either its cash reserves or established banking facilities.
  • Singapore Telecommunications (SGT) Optus’ parent company will restructure its business into three separate units from the 1st April. The company also announced the acquisition of US mobile advertising company Amobee for US$321m. The acquisition will expand SGT’s presence into mobile advertising sector. SGT is unchanged on 232c.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) said they may slash 600 jobs from its Bell Bay aluminum smelter owing to negative effects caused by the high Aussie dollar and low metal prices. The smelter was losing up to $200,000 per day.
  • Southern Cross Media Group (SXL) has endorsed a plan to have a specific set of rules on what is acceptable to say on air whilst broadcasting on radio. It is estimated the company lost $10m in advertising revenue after radio host Mr Kyle Sandilands insulted a female journalist.
  • Gloucester Coal (GCL) is expected to update the market on the progress of its $8b merger with China’s Yancoal Australia this week.

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