The market is up 11 points. DOW up 62. ASX Futures up nine.
US economic news — weekly jobless claims fell 26,000 to 323,000, the lowest in three months and better than expected, but productivity rose 1.8% in the December quarter, lower than the 2.5% expected and factory orders fell more than expected, down 0.7% in January.
The Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) both kept interest rates on hold at record lows. ECB President Mario Draghi reiterated that the modest recovery in the euro zone was continuing. He indicated the risk of deflation in the euro region had abated and targets expected to be reached by the end of 2016.
EU heads of state met at a summit on Thursday to discuss developments in the Ukraine region as tension between Ukraine and Russia escalated this week.
Crimea’s parliament voted to join Russia and scheduled a referendum for March 16 on the move which would bring Crimea, which has an ethnic Russian majority and has effectively been seized by Russian forces, formally under Moscow’s rule. Russia’s MICEX Index closed lower by nearly 1%.
President Barack Obama ordered the freezing of US assets and a ban on travel into the United States of those involved in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He said a proposed Crimea referendum violates international law, and called on Congress to support the International Monetary Fund’s capacity to lend to the nation.
Going ex-div today — for us the key ones are IRE (24.5c — we hold in the MT Portfolio), IVC(19.5c — we hold in the MT Portfolio) PPT (80c — we hold in the MT Portfolio), BXB (13.5c — we hold as a trade) and MND (60c — we hold as a trade). Also today ARI (6c), IIN (9c), SWM (6c)
Australian economic data — AIG/HIA Performance of construction Index.
The Aussie dollar is trading above US90c after strong retail sales and trade data yesterday. Retail sales rose 1.2% (Est 0.4%) and the trade balance came in at a $1.4bn surplus.
RBA Governor Glenn Stevens appears before the House of Representatives at the House Economics committee. The challenge will be balancing discussions about the recent strong economic data while trying to keep the Aussie dollar in check.
Chinese CPI today. Trade data will be out over the weekend.
US economic data tonight — Employment report, international trade, consumer credit
US companies reporting tonight — Foot Locker
Other international economic data — German industrial production
German industrial orders were above expectations, rising 1.2% in January against expectations of 0.7%.
UK house prices rose 2.4% or 7.9% over the year, above expectations of a 7.2% increase.
- Carsales.com.au (CRZ) — Closed up +4.95% yesterday after announcing a deal with SK C&C. The agreement will see CRZ buy 49.9% of South Korea’s leading automotive trading business, including SK Encar and online assets, along with data, online automotive products and car dealership assets. The stake in SK Encar will cost $126 million. More than 1.6 million new vehicles are expected to be sold in South Korea in 2014, nearly 60% more than in Australia.