The market is down 17 points. US markets were closed overnight due to Thanksgiving Day. There is a half-day Friday.

Oil was down 0.05% at US$92.25 on higher than expected US inventories.

Gold rose US$6.70 to US$1244.50 per ounce.

The US$ was weaker against most major currencies, with the exception of the yen. The Aussie dollar was higher and is currently trading at US$0.9112.

European shares were stronger — the German DAX rose 0.39% and the French CAC rose 0.22%. The Italian market was stronger on optimism of Italian political stability following the expulsion of Silvio Berlusconi.

European bonds were stronger, with the yield on the Euro 10 year bond down two basis points to 1.696%.

Base metal prices were mixed — nickel was up 0.89%, and copper and zinc were both 0.05% higher. Lead fell 0.40%.

Iron ore rose US$0.40 to US$136.40 a tonne.

STORIES

  •  GrainCorp (GNC) — Treasurer Joe Hockey has blocked ADM’s $3 billion takeover offer for GrainCorp and said his decision on the matter was reached after “long and careful” deliberations. The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) was split on the takeover. Hockey said, “the proposed acquisition of GrainCorp has been one of the most complex cases to come before the FIRB and it is one of the most significant proposed acquisitions of an agricultural business in Australia’s history. For me to reject this proposal, I had to determine that the acquisition of GrainCorp by ADM is contrary to the national interest.” Out of 131 foreign investment applications, this is the only one that has been blocked. Some are saying the Nationals and some rural Liberals have opposed the GrainCorp sale, and perhaps the motive was political.
  • Rio Tinto (RIO) has announced it will spend $400 million to expand its Pilbara iron ore production capacity to 360 million tonnes per annum. RIO plans to boost production by 60 million tonnes per annum each year from 2014-2017, with the expansion coming from higher production at existing mines, productivity gains and development of the Silvergrass mine. The total expansion project will involve spending $3 billion less than the original expansion plans.
  • Qantas (QAN) — with Labor, the Greens, Qantas and PM Tony Abbott seemingly against easing the Qantas Sale Act, the only option is for the government to support the company. A government buyback of up to 10% of Qantas has emerged as the most likely option to solve their problems.
  • US markets were closed last night (Thursday) for Thanksgiving. Friday is a half-day. Volumes will be light as over the holiday period.
  • European data was stronger than expected. The European Commission economic sentiment index rose to 98.5 in November compared to expectations of 98.0 and 97.7 previously. The German flash CPI rose to 1.65 in November from 1.2%.
  • The Bank of England has halted one of its key housing market stimulus schemes. The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which offers incentives for mortgage lending, will be changed to redirect lending towards supporting businesses.
  • AGMs today include Primary Health Care (PRY), Beach Energy (BPT), Retail Food Group (RFG), Village Roadshow (VRL), Sundance Resouces (SEA) and Buderim Ginger (BUG).
  • No major results today.
  • No major domestic economic dataOverseas data includes Japanese CPI, industrial production and unemployment. In Europe there is CPI and unemployment. The focus will be the official Chinese PMI data released over the weekend.

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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