The market is down 21 points. The Dow Jones was up 19 at 16,198. The market rose in early trade but then range traded around yesterday’s closing level before rising late in the session in a 100-point range.

Housing data dominated the US market –– New home sales rose 9.6% in January to a five-and-a-half-year high with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 468,000 units compared to the 400,000 units expected, easing recent market concerns. Earlier in the day, weekly mortgage applications fell to the lowest level in nearly two decades heading into the normally buoyant spring housing season

US earnings results were generally positive — Target rose after beating expectations. It said the December data breach took 2c off earnings and impacted sales, but sales trends have improved in recent weeks. Home improvement company Lowe’s also rose after good numbers, continuing the housing theme after Home Depot’s good performance yesterday. Lots of companies are expected to report after the market close.

The S&P was flat at 1845. Oil rose 0.68% to US$102.52.  Gold fell US$12.20 to US$1,330.50 per ounce. The US$ was stronger against most major currencies and the Australian dollar was weaker, currently trading at US89.70c. VIX Index fell 4.97% to 14.35. US treasury markets were stronger — The yield on the 10-year bond fell 4 basis points to 2.664% following a successful auction of US$35 billion in five-year notes.

European shares were weaker — The UK FTSE fell 0.46%, the French CAC fell 0.40% and the German DAX fell 0.39%. European bonds were stronger — The yield on the euro 10 -ear bond yield fell 3 basis points to 1.616% and the UK 10 year bond yield was also 2 basis points lower at 2.725%. Base metal prices were mixed — Lead rose 0.79%, zinc rose 0.65% and aluminium was up 0.22% but nickel and copper were down 0.57% and 0.41% respectively. Iron ore fell US$1.70 to US$117.80 a tonne.

  • Qantas Airways (QAN) — First half underlying net loss of $252 million, which was a broker guidance range for a loss of between $250 million to $300 million. The airline is to cut 5000 more jobs and to cut capex by $1 billion in the 2015 and 2016 financial years. They will also scrap Perth-to-Singapore route, suspend Jetstar Asia growth and sell Brisbane airport lease. All part of a restructure and cost cutting drive that aims to eliminate $2 billion in costs over the next three years. Job cuts will create $500 million redundancy cost. Of the planned job cuts, Qantas says 1500 will come from management and non-operational roles. The remainder will come as a result of changes to the fleet and network, the restructure of maintenance operations and the restructure of catering facilities. Wages for all staff will be frozen. 50 aircraft will be deferred or sold.
  • Independence Group (IGO) — Net profit of $21.5 million, up 30.3% and in line with a broker consensus forecast of $22.9 million. Revenue was up 36.5% to $166.7 million. Fully franked dividend of 3c up 200%.
  • iSelect (ISU) — Profit up 1698% to $3.686 million Revenue of $55.8 million up 18.3%. No dividend.
  • Nine Entertainment (NEC) — 1H earnings moderately ahead of underlying PDS forecast. On a Reported basis, prior to Specific Items, Revenue increased by 23% to $800m, Group EBITDA improved 48% to $185m and Net Profit increased from a loss of $80m to a profit of $89m. Reported net profit of $31.7m versus losses of $93.8m in the pcp. Confident of delivering FY Result Forecast in Prospectus. No dividend.
  • Transfield Services (TSE) — Underlying profit of $9.9m up 47.8% but below an expected $12.1m. 1H Net Profit $4.6m Vs $246.7m loss year earlier. No interim dividend. Reiterated guidance of $65m-$70m.The company has also won $190m of new contracts. The company plans to sell their Indian operations and a minority stake in Ratch-Australia.
  • Perpetual (PPT) — Underlying profit of $48.1m up 37% which was in line with broker expectations. NPAT was $33.3m up 22%. Fully franked dividend of 80c up 60%. Strong improvement as a result of Transformation 2015 strategy. Improvement in net funds flow and one month’s contribution from The Trust Company Transformation. On track cost savings of $44m at the end of 1H14.
  • Seven Group Holdings (SVW) — Underlying profit of $131.8m which was down 44% and slightly below a broker consensus forecast of $135.9m. EBITDA of $213.7m down 47%. Interim dividend of 20c. On market buyback of up to 11.9m ordinary shares or 3.86% of shares outstanding commencing in March. We maintain our guidance of full year FY14 underlying EBIT to be at the low end of 30% to 40% below FY13.
  • Sedgman (SDM) — Reported net loss after tax of $6.7m in line with previous company guidance. Underlying Net loss of $5.6m down from a $15m profit the year earlier. Dividend of 2c. Sales revenue of $153.9m.
  • NRW Holdings (NWH) – NPAT of $22.4m down from $48.6 previously and below an expected $31m. Revenue of $520.9m. Interim dividend of 4c. Net Debt/Equity ratio at 11%. $1.3bn order book and a robust tender pipeline of $3.3bn provide the basis for revenue growth in the second half and good visibility for FY15. Revenue guidance for the full financial year is reconfirmed at $1.0 to $1.2 billion.

Peter Fray

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