The market is up 20 points.

The Dow Jones closed up 25 at 16,097. The market traded in a narrow 50 point range and closed near its highs.

Volume was low in the lead up to Thanksgiving on Thursday. Markets are closed Thursday and there is a half-day on Friday. Many investors and traders are preparing for the holiday later this week.

Economic data was positive including weekly jobs claims, durable goods orders, the Chicago PMI and the leading indicator. Most of the focus was on the University of Michigan sentiment index, which rose to 75.1, higher than the estimate of 73.0 and the previous reading of 72.0. This contrasts with the disappointing Conference Board consumer sentiment index released just yesterday.

The S&P was up four at 1807.

Oil was down 1.47% at US$92.30.

Gold fell US$4.70 to US$1236.70 per ounce.

The US$ was stronger against most major currencies. The Aussie dollar drifted lower and is currently trading at US$0.9079.

VIX volatility index rose 1.33% to 12.98.

US treasury markets were weaker — the yield on the 10 year bond rose three basis points to 2.739%. The $29 billion seven year note auction was generally weak.

European shares were stronger — Germany rose 0.66% after Germany reached political coalition deal, the French CAC was up 0.36% and the UK FTSE rose 0.20%.

European bonds were weaker, with the yield on the Euro 10 year bond up three basis points to 1.719%.

Base metal prices were weaker — led by nickel down 1.28%, aluminium down 0.98% and copper down 0.71%.

Iron ore rose US$0.10 to US$136.00 a tonne.

STORIES

  • Murray Goulburn has increased its offer for Warnambool Cheese and Butter (WCB) to $9.50 a share, trumping Saputo’s most recent offer of $9.20. This values WCB at $531.7 million.
  • AGMs today from Seek (SEK), Troy Resources (TRY), Blackthorn Resources (BTR), CuDeco (CDU) and Link Energy (LNC).
  • Treasurer Joe Hockey has partially reversed Labor’s plan to scrap the so-called 25-90 rule. The rule allows a tax deduction on interest paid on debt to fund offshore growth. The Coalition government is keeping other changes such as strengthened powers for the tax office on transfer pricing.
  • The Federal Government’s decision to lower the GST-threshold on imported goods worth less than $1000 has been pushed back until March next year, meaning Christmas presents bought online this year from overseas will not be subject to the tax.
  • Forge (FGE) — Down 93% after issuing a $127 million write-down. Forge is an engineering, procurement and construction service provider to the power and infrastructure, minerals, resources and oil & gas sectors. The stock came out of a four week trading halt flagging massive financial losses and write-downs. This represents a loss in market capitalisation of about $300 million — it’s now worth around $60 million. The company has now been forced to increase its debt facility with ANZ. It expects a fiscal 2014 full year loss of $85-$90 million on earnings.
  • Qantas (QAN) — Shares are up 4.66% on the back of Joe Hockey’s comments to ease foreign ownership restrictions on the local airline.
  • Seek (SEK) — Shares are up 5% after its AGM. The company increased annual profit guidance for its domestic business, pointing to higher earnings overall than previously anticipated. It also reiterated revenue and profit overall in the year through June. SEK also says it will launch an IPO of its IDP Education joint venture on the next year.
  • McMillan Shakespeare (MMS) — Shares are up 7% after the company said that the disruption caused by the Federal Government’s FBT tax change is abating and it is approaching a business as usual footing.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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