The market is down 17. The SFE Futures were down 17 this morning.

The Dow closed down 65 overnight after the Federal Open Market Committee statement. The S&P 500 was down 0.4%, a day after rising to its highest level since 2008, and the Nasdaq down 0.2%. European markets were down. The Australian dollar is lower at 103.14¢, down from 104.19¢. Metals are mixed on the LME. The gold price was down $7.70 to $1672 an ounce. Oil was down 86¢ to $104.02 a barrel. Ten-year Treasury bonds yields rose to 2.300%. All 10 S&P 500 sectors were down. Energy, Materials and Industrial stocks were worst.

Main points:

  • AGL Energy (AGK) says the ACCC has extended the approvals process for a proposed acquisition of the Loy Yang A power station requesting further information from AGK by April 18. AGL already owns 32.5% of the power station which provides 33% of Victoria’s power. AGK plans to buy the remaining stake but requires ACCC to remove Federal Court undertakings that limit AGK’s ownership to 35%.
  • Transfield Services (TSE) has cut forecasts profits from its Easternwell oil and gas acquisition for the second time. Bad weather was blamed. The company has also lowered 2012 group earnings guidance by nearly a quarter. FY net profit is now expected to be $105m down from $135m.
  • Whitehaven Coal (WHC) says it will be providing its Quarterly operations report for the three months ending 30 March 2012 in late April. Due to rain and flooding WHC has cut saleable coal output by 400,000 tonnes.
  • Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) has received a $31.5m payment from Fosters Group which has previously promised to update its IT system before it was acquired by SABMiller PLC. TWE has agreed to assume responsibility in completing the upgrade in exchange for the payment from Fosters.
  • QBE Insurance Group (QBE) expects to raise its premiums by more than 7% in 2012 after a number of natural disasters. The company has had a positive start to the new year and expects large catastrophic claims in the 1st Q to be US$700m lower. QBE reiterated guidance for a 2012 profit margin of 13%. Last year was described as one of the worst years for catastrophic events which contributed to a 45% fall in profit.
  • Metcash (MTS) yesterday revealed a 45% slump in bottom line profit this year after axing almost 10% of its workforce as it undertakes a major restructures due to cautious consumer spending and price deflation triggered by discounting from Coles and Woolworths (WOW).
  • The AIG/CBA Performance of Services Index (PSI) shoed activity in Australia’s service sector contracted for a 2nd month in March as companies complained of soft consumer demand and a high dollar. Overall PSI edged up 0.3 points to 47.0.

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