The market is unchanged having been up 12. It is trading in low volume in a narrow range. SFE Futures were up 13 this morning.

Dow Jones closed up 12. The Dow was up 54 at best and down 43 at worst. Volumes were light again on small gains with ongoing speculation as to the timing of when (not if) Spain would ask for a formal bailout. The “risk off” trade (buying defensive rather than recovery/growth stocks) was reinforced by a fall in energy stock with the oil price down $3.93 on disappointing economic data coming out of Europe (PMI numbers disappointed) and oil inventory numbers.

The good news was that the US ISM non-manufacturing index hit a six-month high of 55.1 for September and the ADP employment report showed that US private sector jobs were up by 162,000 for September. Hewlett Packard down 13% after a revenue guidance downgrade for FY13.

Best sectors — utilities, consumer discretionary, telecoms. Worst sectors — materials and energy. Metals mixed — copper down 0.48%, nickel up 0.39%, aluminium down 0.23% and zinc down 0.65%. The spot iron ore price was again unchanged at $104.20 (fifth consecutive day). Oil down $3.93 to $87.96. The oil price is currently sitting on a long-term support level of about $87.90.

The Aussie dollar is at $102.20 hitting new lows on the back of the recent rate cut and weak Australian trade deficit numbers yesterday — the biggest trade deficit since March 2008 on the back of a 20% fall in exports to China since the peak in May.

  • ANZ will spend $1.5 billion upgrading its local business over the next five years to boost market share. The plan has been called “Banking on Australia” and includes extending refurbishments of its domestic branch network and launching several new mobile-banking applications to help increase efficiency and attract more customers. ANZ is up 0.94% to 2528.5c.
  • Elders (ELD) — Has been approached by Ruralco about a merger deal worth $500 million. The deal will see Australia’s second and third biggest rural services groups merge so that they will become more competitive with Landmark. Elders is believed to have turned down the offer saying the proposal did not contain enough detail. If a detailed proposal was to be presented, the board has said it would review it. Ruralco has a 12% stake in ELD. ELD is up 4.81% to 27.25c.
  • Drillsearch Energy (DLS) — Has made a $118 million bid for oil and gas explorer Acer Energy (ACN). DLS is offering 25.5c Acer share representing a 31% premium to the stock’s last trade of 19.5c. Acer was formally known as Innamincka Petroleum, owns permits in the Cooper Basin energy hub, which straddles the borders of South Australia and Queensland. DLS is down 2.53% to 154c and ACN is up 35.9% to 26.5c.
  • Centro Retail Australia (CRF) has confirmed that it is in talks over the potential sale of half stakes in some of its shopping centre assets. The company is having discussions with $8 billion super fund ISPT to purchase 50% stakes in five of its shopping centres, with the potential deal worth nearly $400 million. CRF is unchanged on 214c.

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