The market is down 30. SFE Futures were down 2 this morning as the Dow Jones finished up 5 on below average volumes overnight.

The Dow Jones was up 23 at best and down 38 at worst on better then expected economic data. All three sessions this week have seen US markets opening flat, with bargain hunters coming into the market later in the day. This is the ninth consecutive session of gains on the Dow, the longest winning streak since 1996.

US retail sales were up 1.1% in February, which was well above the forecast of +0.5%. Excluding autos, gasoline and building, sales were up 0.4%, beating the forecasts of +0.2%.  The better-than-expected reading suggests the tax increase implemented at the beginning of the year has not affected the consumers demand in terms of retail. In the February US employment report it highlighted a strong gain in wages also.

Best sectors — industrials (+0.5%), consumer services (+0.4%) and utilities (+0.3%). Worst sectors — basic materials (-0.5%), telecoms (-0.4%) and energy (-0.2%).

European markets mixed — UK FTSE down 0.45%, German DAX up 0.06%, France down 0.10%, Spain down 0.40%, Italy down 1.74%. The eurozone industrial production was down 0.4% in January, which missed the forecast of -0.1%, to be down 1.3% for the year.

Metals mixed — copper down 0.51%, nickel down 0.50%, zinc down 0.43%, aluminium down 0.80%. Spot iron ore was down $4.40 to $139.00. Gold down $4.50 to $1587.20.

  • Employment went up by 71,500 in February above an expected 8000. The jobless rate unchanged at 5.4% ,stronger than an expected 5.5%. The Aussie dollar has risen by more than half a US cent on the back of this news.
  • Myer (MYR) — Interims better than expected — NPAT of $88 million in the first six months of its financial year, which was better than an expected profit of $85 million. Total sales were $1.73 billion, up 2% from $1.7 billion in the pcp. Fully franked interim dividend of 10c. MYR is up 3.45% to 300c.
  • Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP) — Underlying NPAT of $52.3 million, which was above an expected $52 million. Sales revenue rose 3.1%. Final dividend of 2c. SIP is up 3.15% to 65.5c.
  • Western Areas NL (WSA) — Released an exploration strategy and activities update. Company still on track to beat 2-13 financial year nickel guidance. Repaid over $150 million in debt over past eight months. WSA is down 3.54% to 354c.
  • NAB — Finished down 1.87% yesterday after it unveiled a major overhaul of its top executive ranks as part of restructure plan to boost performance and cut $800 million a year in costs. Citigroup has downgraded the stock with a target price of 2975c, as the broker is seeing the stock as expensive on valuation grounds. NAB is down 0.19% to 3089c.
  • AJ Lucas Group (AJL) — Down 10.45% after Cuadrilla Resources (44% owned by AJL) confirmed its commitment to environmental assessments.