The Market is up 9. ASX 200 Futures were up 13 this morning. Dow Jones finished up 49 on above average volumes. The Dow was up 51 at best and down 34 at worst.

The materials sector performed well on the back of China’s better-than-expected trade balance numbers yesterday and Rio Tinto’s AGM statement saying it expects iron ore demand to remain intact.

BHP and RIO up 2.48% and 2.28% in ADR form in the US with BHP closing at the equivalent of 3460c up 30c on last night’s close here.

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

European markets up — UK FTSE up 0.40%, German DAX up 0.83%, France up 0.89%, Spain up 0.62%, Italy up 0.78%.

Metals up — copper up 2.15%, nickel up 1.39%, zinc up 1.25%, aluminium up 1.54%. Spot iron ore was up 20c to $130.20.

ANNOUNCEMENTS & STORIES         

  • Australia’s jobless rate fell 5.5% in April from 5.6% in March. Unemployment was expected to remain steady at 5.6%. The number of people employed rose by 50,100 compared with an expected 12,000 increase. The Australian dollar rose by more than half a cent against the U.S. It rather suggests that this week’s rate cut was unnecessary, on the jobs front anyway.
  • Chinese CPI inflation figures are reasonably encouraging and below expectations. No inflation issues there.
  • NAB — Has posted a $2.92 billion cash profit, up 3.1% and above a consensus forecast of $2.89 billion. Interim dividend of 93c only slightly above consensus. Net Profit was $2.52 billion, up 22.8%. Analysts says the result was “respectable” but point out that NAB’s new impaired assets are double those of WBC. NAB is down 1.18% to 3297c.
  • Santos (STO) — AGM — Is looking to reward shareholders as its profits rise and will review (raise) its dividend policy over the next 18 months. The company expects 2013 to be another busy year. Growth program is well funded with $5.8 billion in cash. No specific guidance given but they point towards growth. CEO David Knox says its LNG portfolio is on track. STO is up 1.42% to 1283c.
  • News Corp (NWS) — Has reported better than expected third-quarter revenue and earnings. Third-quarter profit has tripled to $US2.85 billion, up from $937 million on the back of acquisitions and sales in cable TV interests. Operating income was up 4% to $US1.36 billion. Revenue grew 14% to $9.54 billion.
  • AMP — AGM — Reported a strong quarterly performance across its retail platforms. Cashflows rose in the first quarter to $95 million up from -$292 million in the first quarter of 2012. AMP is down 0.18% to 555c.
  • Mirvac Group (MGR) — Strategic review — Confirms financial year EPS guidance of 10.7c-10.8c. MGR is up 0.58% to 173c.
  • Sigma Pharmaceuticals (SIP 77c) — Held their AGM yesterday. They expect to retain their high payout by delivering 90% of underlying net profit through fully franked dividends of 4c. The stock already has a gross yield of 8.0%. SIP is up 0.97% to 77.75c.

Peter Fray

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