The market is down 6. ASX 200 SFE Futures were up 11 this morning. Dow Jones finished up 60 and made a new all-time high on below average volumes. The Dow was up 103 at best and down 15 at worst.

BHP and RIO up 4.47% and 5.72% in ADR form in the US with BHP closing at the equivalent of 3388c up 77c on last nights close here. BHP and RIO were up 3.51% and 4.80% in the UK.

US wholesale inventories were down 0.3% in February — the biggest decline in almost 1.5 years. The forecast was for a 0.5% lift.

Alcoa (ended unchanged at 839c) started off the first quarter reporting period with strong bottom-line earnings. Company’s revenue of $5.83 billion represented a 2.9% year-on-year fall, and missed the estimate.

US 10-year bond yield was up 3bpts to 1.75%.

Best sectors — materials (+1.1%), technology (+0.8%), and energy (+0.8%). Worst sectors — utilities (-0.3%), consumer discretionary (-0.2%), and consumer staples (-0.1%).

European markets mixed — UK FTSE up 0.58%, German DAX down 0.33%, France up 0.11%, Spain up 1.10%, Italy up 1.26%.

Metals up — copper up 2.45%, nickel up 0.98%, aluminium up 1.6%, zinc up 1.52%. Spot iron ore up $1.50 to $139.10. Gold up $12.50 to $1585.00.

  • Telstra (TLS) — Tony Abbott has reassured shareholders they will not be hurt by the Coalition’s plans to scale back the NBN network. Under his plan, 70% of homes would get speeds of at least 50 megabits per second by 2019 using fibre to the node technology. A cheaper but slightly slower version of the Labor plan. TLS is down 0.87% to 454c.
  • Crown (CWN) — The NSW government is assessing an application by Echo Entertainment (EGP) to extend its monopoly casino licence beyond their 2019 expiration. If successful, the move would block Crown’s plans for a second high-roller casino in Sydney. Only one company will proceed to Stage 3. CWN is down 0.63% to 1252c and EGP is down 1.88% to 356c.
  • Nufarm (NUF) — Shares have fallen 30% after the company lost a key distribution deal and a profit downgrade after a dry, hot summer hit crop protection sales. NUF is down 0.8% to 431.5c.
  • Ramsay Health Care (RHC) — Sources say the company is already looking at half a dozen new deals after only recently forming a $500m JV with a Malaysian group. RHC is down 1.34% to 3170c.
  • Sundance Resources (SDL) — After officially terminated the takeover proposal by Chinese Hanlong Mining, the company will focus their efforts on talks with other parties including Chinese groups that had expressed interest in the project. SDL is down another 6.82% to 10.25c.
  • Billabong (BBG) — Down 26% so far — Major shareholder Gordon Merchant and fellow director Colette Paull have backed a $287 million takeover proposal put together by Sycamore Partners & Paul Naude. The deal is 10 days away from being finalised.