The market is down 49. The SFE Futures were up 13 this morning.

Dow Jones up 46. Third rise on the trot. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq fell. The Dow was up 140 at best on the back of surprise move by the People’s Bank of China to cut their benchmark interest rate (by 25bp) for the first time in four years. All markets spiked early in the session. The news came too late for Asian markets which will react today. Obviously it is a move to boost their softening economy but the news does suggest that the Chinese Industrial production, CPI, PPI and Retail sales numbers due out tomorrow may be weaker than expected. The early “China stimulus” rally faded after Bernanke’s testimony to Congress came up short of best expectations with no new stimulus measures. European markets were all up with the UK FTSE and Italy the best +1.18% and +0.88%. Fitch downgraded Spain’s credit rating three notches to BBB (anticipated) and said they will remain in recession for the rest of the year. Metals were all up on the LME with Nickel up 3.1% and Copper up 1.11%. Gold was down $42.90 to $1561.30. Oil was down $1.40 to $83.63. BHP and RIO ADRs are both up 1.88% and 3.84%. BHP up 98c on last night’s close helped by the China move. The A$ is at 98.96c.

Main points:

  • The Bank of China cut its one-year lending rate 25bp to 6.31% from 6.56% and the one-year deposit rate will reduce from 3.50% to 3.25% effective 8 June. Banks will also be allowed to offer a 20% discount to the lending rate, up from 10%, and savers can be offered up to 10% higher than the official benchmark. The move is important because it passes the message that the Chinese want to arrest their slowdown but it also passes a warning about tomorrow’s economic numbers.
  • Home loan approvals in April rose 0.2% to 46,632. Economists were forecasting housing finance commitments to be flat in April.
  • The ABS released the Balance on Goods and Services figures which showed a deficit of $203m in April better than the expected a deficit of $900m. Exports were up 3.0% while imports were down 1.0%.
  • ANZ Banking Group (ANZ) has cut their variable interest rate on home loans and business loans by 25 basis points.
  • Echo Entertainment’s (EGP) chairman John Story has resigned from his position after accepting the board’s view the campaign to remove him was damaging the company and it was not in the best interests of shareholders that he contests. Mr John O’Neill has been appointed as acting chairman. A meeting may still go ahead to consider CWN’s proposal for Mr Jeff Kennett to be nomimated as chairman. EGP is up 3.26% to 444c.
  • Santos (STO) and ConocoPhillips have agreed on a US$520m deal to sell a minority stake in the Caldita and Barossa gas discoveries offshore Australia to SK E&S which is a gas unit of South Korea’s SK Group. STO is down 0.92% to 1186c.
  • Flinders Mines (FMS) received more bad news in relation to the $554m takeover bid by Magnitogorsk Iron & Steel Works after a Russian court dismissed an appeal and adjourned a legal issue until after the takeover scheme was due to be implemented. Looks like an uphill battle from here. FMS is down 14% to 12c
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