The market is up three points. Dow Jones was down 62 points to 15,619. The market reached an early intra-day high of 15,721 but was down over 100 points at the low of 15,575.

The S&P was down 9 to 1763.

No FOMC Rate Decision — The Federal Open Market Committee left rates on hold and made no moves towards tapering. “Available data suggest that household spending and business fixed investment advanced, while the recovery in the housing sector slowed somewhat in recent months … we await more evidence that progress will be sustained in the jobs market …” the FOMC statement said. This was largely expected but there’s still a lot of pondering. The consensus is that nothing will happen until April — when the short term impact from the partial government shut-down has been sorted through and new Fed Chair Janet Yellen has had time to get her feet under the desk. A little clarity on timing was expected from the Fed so there’s a bit of disappointment; there’s even some talk about the quantitative easing program continuing indefinitely.

Economic data — weaker than expected. The ADP jobs reports showed 130,000 jobs were created against expectations of 150,000, the lowest since April. And there are no inflationary pressures with Core CPI up just 0.1%.

Oil fell 1.6% to US$96.59.

Gold was down US$2.90 to US$1342.60 per ounce.

The US$ rose against most major currencies despite the continuation of quantitative easing at its current pace. While talk of tapering was off the table, the Fed gave no indication on the likely timing — as was hoped. The Aussie dollar was up against yesterday’s close and is trading at US$0.9486.

VIX volatility index rose 1.79%to 13.65.

US treasuries were weaker — The 10 year yield rose four basis points to 2.543%.

European share were weaker. The UK FTSE was up 0.04%, but the French CAC fell 0.09% and the German DAX was down 0.13%. European bonds were generally stronger. The peripheral markets were weaker.

Base metal prices rose — Copper and nickel both up more than 1%.

Iron ore down US$0.10 a tonne to US$131.20 a tonne.

STORIES

  • NAB posted financial year cash profit of $5.94 billion up 9.3% and in line with forecasts. The bank’s net profit, which includes one-off financial items, was $5.45 billion up 33.6% from $4.08 billion in the pcp. Fully franked dividend 97c. Total final dividend 190c. The solid numbers came on the back of lower bad and doubtful debts and stronger earnings across most of its businesses. Operating income was $18.58 billion up 2%. NAB’s total bad and doubtful debts charge was $1.19 billion, a reduction of $681 million. NAB attributed it to improved asset quality trends, particularly in the UK business and business banking. ANZ and NAB have both reported better than expected numbers setting the tone for MQG (tomorrow), WBC (November 4) and CBA first quarter trading update (November 6).
  • Woolworths (WOW) — First quarter sales were up 3% to $15.68 billion. The figure includes sales from across the Woolworth’s supermarkets, liquor stores, Big W, petrol stations, hotels and home improvement division. Sales were up 6.4% across the supermarkets and petrol outlets, which collectively sold more than $13.8 billion worth of goods. Sales from its home improvement division were up 28.2% on the back of the roll-out of Masters stores.
  • Leighton Holdings (LEI) — Has won a $249 million contract to provide services to the Isaac Plains coal mine in Queensland’s Bowen Basin.
  • OceanaGold (OGC) — Has reported a $43.7 million profit in the third quarter after a loss of $70.5 million in the pcp. The company also maintained financial year gold production guidance and increased its copper production guidance. OCG now expects to produce 18,000 to 20,000 tonnes of copper in 2013 up from 15,000 to 18,000 tonnes. Gold production of 285,000 ounces to 325,000 ounces is expected.
  • Myer (MYR) — Is set to lose millions in annual sales after Hugo Boss ditched the department store in favour of rival David Jones (DJS). Hugo Boss products would be sold in every David Jones store from February next year. Media reports say it could cost Myer $7 million in annual sales.
  • Mesoblast (MSB) — Up 6% after the FDA clears Phase 3 Heart Failure trials.
  • Lynas (LYC) — Quarterly Production numbers — It expects first quarter rare-earths output  to be 253 million tonnes which will build up through the second quarter.
  • Wesfarmers is apparently in talks to sell its $2 billion insurance business to Zurich. The Wesfarmers business is the fifth largest general insurance company in Australia, followed by Zurich. Wesfarmers were hoping to use the Coles retail chain to distribute its house and car insurance but both it and Zurich have struggled in a market dominated by the four big general insurers. The insurance business only accounts for 5% of Wesfarmers’ earnings. We’d expect the announcement to be positively received — it’s a handy injection of cash and reduces volatility in earnings.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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