The market is down 9. Our futures were up 12 this morning, with the Dow Jones up 89. The Dow was up 112 at best as European markets posted solid gains on the back of better than expected PMI readings. All readings were better than expected but still remain below 50 (expansion).

Best sectors — healthcare (+1.4%), consumer staples (+1.1%), and consumer discretionary (+0.9%). Worst sectors — materials (-0.9%), energy (-0.5%), and industrials (-0.1%).

European markets up — UK FTSE up 1.23%, Germany up 1.91%, France up 1.98%, Spain up 1.65%, Italy up 1.41%.Eurozone unemployment remained at 12% in February and the broader European Union employment rate was up from 10.8% to 10.9%.

The Cypriot Finance Minister resigns; aid package takes shape. The beleaguered Cypriot Finance Minister has resigned as an inevitable probe into the country’s economic crisis got underway.

Metals down — Copper down 0.99%, nickel down 1.70%, zinc 2.51%, tin down 0.97%. Spot iron ore was down $1.20 to $137.40. Gold down $24.40 to $1575.60. Oil down 21c to $96.86.

  • The RBA index of commodity prices climbed 0.2% in March. That followed a revised 2.6% increase in February and was the fifth straight month of gains. The largest contributor was the increase in the price of iron ore and coking coal.
  • The HIA New Home sales index fell 5.3% in the month following a 4.2% increase in January. In February, detached house sales fell by 13.7% in Victoria, 2.8% in New South Sales and 6.7% in South Australia. Western Australia and Queensland posted increases of 1.9% and 0.8%.
  • Billabong (BBG) — The media says negotiations between the two private equity-lead suitors would likely enter a sixth day. While the final price is not known, it will be lower than the 110c offer which valued the company at $527m. Some say the bid could be lowered to be between 80c-90c. The trading halt is expected to remain until Thursday.
  • ANZ — Head of international and institutional banking Alex Thursby has resigned to take up a new job in the Middle East. He will leave at the end of April to become CEO of a Middle East bank. ANZ is unchanged on 2882.
  • Dart Energy (DTE) — Fell 43.81% yesterday after the company cut 70% of its workforce to reduce costs in response to tighter government restrictions on coal seam gas projects. DTE is down 8.47% to 5.4c.
  • Sundance Resources (SDL) — Will terminate takeover talks with China’s Hanlong Mining as soon as today amid speculation the company will attempt to strike a new deal with a state-owned Chinese player.
  • Qantas Airways (QAN) — Is likely to experience delays in the delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner due to problem’s with the aircraft’s battery. The first Dreamliner is due in August. QAN is up 2.46% to 187.5c