The market is up 6. SFE Futures were up 1 this morning.

Dow Jones closed up 19. The Dow was up 13 at best and down 47 at worst ahead of a week of company earnings and Ben Bernanke’s speech set to take place after Wall St closes today. Obama last night warned of a new economic crisis unless Republicans in Congress agree to raise the debt ceiling. “To even entertain the idea of this happening, of the United States of America not paying its bills, it is irresponsible, it is absurd,” Obama said. “Markets could go haywire, interest rates would spike for anybody who borrows money. It would be a self-inflicted wound on the economy.”

Apple down 3.57% to $501.75 on reports that production of the iPhone5 is being cut back in response to lower demand. Dell up 13% on talk of a private equity bid.

Best sectors — materials, consumer staples. Worst sectors — financials, technology, telecommunications.

European markets mixed — UK FTSE down 0.22%, German DAX up 0.18%, France up 0.06%, Spain down 0.38%, Italy down 0.64% and Greece down 1.71%. The Euro zone’s MonM Industrial Production was -0.3%, which was below the forecast of +0.1% and the previous reading of -0.1%.

Metals down — copper down 0.61%, nickel down 1.91%, lead down 0.41% and zinc down 0.97%. Spot iron ore was unchanged at $154.90.

  • Very low volumes today and trading in a narrow range.
  • Billabong (BBG) received a takeover offer (after hours last night) from VF Corporation. The proposal matches a $1.10 cash per share offer received in December from the Sycamore consortium led by former director Paul Naude. BBG is up 12.43% to 95c.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) — Fourth quarter operational review out later today — RIO will post iron ore production numbers for 2012. The market will be looking at any outlook comments for this year especially after the recent spike in the iron ore price. RIO is down 0.67% to 6555c.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) — Leighton PNG has been won a $200 million contract to construct Esso Highlands Limited’s permanent head office in Port Moresby, PNG. LEI is down 0.42% to 1875c.
  • Bluescope Steel (BSL) — Yesterday’s restructure announcement including production downgrades and 170 job losses will save as much as $2 million a month. BSL is down 3.91% to 356.5c.
  • Whitehaven Coal (WHC) — Chinese Shenhua Group and a Japanese company have approached the Nathan Tinkler creditor about his 19.4% stake in WHC. WHC is down 1.02% to 339.5c.
  • ANZ job Ads yesterday saw the number of job ads fall for a 10th straight month. Job dds are down 20% from their peak in Feb 2012.
  • BHP still in dispute with the PNG Prime Minister who rejected details of an Australian Financial Review story about him yesterday.
  • Australian employment numbers on Thursday are expected to see unemployment up from 5.2% in Nov to 5.4% in December

Peter Fray

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