The market is down 2 having been up 19 on the open. SFE Futures were up 20 this morning as the Dow Jones finished up 42 overnight. The Dow was up 67 at best and continues to make all-time highs.

The Fed’s latest Beige Book commentary, ahead of the next FOMC meeting on March 19-20 suggested the US economy was expanding at a modest to moderate pace across most regions and that cost pressures remained well contained.

The US ADP employment reading came in better than expected with 198,000 private jobs created in February. A good lead into the official jobs numbers on Friday.

US factory orders were down 2% in January, largely due to a fall in demand for military hardware and commercial aircraft.

European markets mixed — UK FTSE down 0.07%, German DAX up 0.63%, France down 0.35%, Spain down 0.76%, Italy down 0.47%.

The eurozone GDP number showed a 0.6% contraction for the December quarter, keeping annual growth at 0.9%. Consumer spending was down 0.4%, gross fixed capital formation was down 1.1%, government spending dropped 0.1% and exports and imports were off 0.9%.

Metals down — copper 1.07%, nickel down 1.08%, zinc down 1.34%, lead down 1.61%. Spot iron ore up 60c to $145.80. Gold up $7.10 to $1582.00.

The Australian trade deficit widened 54% to $1.057 billion, the market was forecasting a deficit of $510 million. The trade deficit widened more than expected in January, after narrowing significantly in the previous month.  The budget is in May.

  • Aurizon (AZJ) — Has secured a new long-term, performance-based contract with BM Alliance Coal Operations Pty Limited (BMA) and BHP Billiton Mitsui Coal Pty Limited (BMC) for the haulage of up to 65 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) of coal from their mine operations in Queensland. Managing director & CEO Lance Hockridge said: “BMA/BMC is a highly-valued Aurizon customer. We’re committed to delivering superior service to them today, tomorrow and well into the next decade.” AZJ is up 0.74% to 407c.
  • The AiG / HIA performance of construction index (PCI) rose by 9.4 points to an index level of 45.6 in February. It was the 33rd consecutive monthly reading below 50 (contraction) but was the best number since June 2010.
  • Telstra (TLS) — Is looking to raise  1 billion euros ($1.28 billion) through a bond issue. The bonds would mature on September 15, 2023, and have a 2.5% coupon rate. TLS is down 0.77% to 453.5c.
  • Santos (STO) 00 Has dismissed speculation that it is looking to write down the value of its coal seam gas assets in NSW despite concern over new legislation aimed at restricting activity in the sector. Last week AGL Energy warned it could write down the value of its CSG assets in the state valued at $325 million. STO is down 0.53% to 1322c.
  • UGL Limited (UGL) — Up 4.7% on the back of a broker upgrade this morning after an 18% fall in the share price since mid-February.