The market is up 37 points.The Dow Jones was up 182 at 16,247 — the market jumped early in the session after positive leads from Europe and closed near the highs in a 200 point range. Volume was again light.
In Crimea — markets remained calm following the non-violent referendum where 95.5% voted to break away from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Crimea’s government officially asked Russia to annex the region. Vladimir Putinhas signed an order recognising Crimea’s sovereignty and Russia’s lower house of parliament said it will pass legislation allowing Crimea to join the nation in the “very near future”.
Sanctions — U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions on 11 Russians and Ukrainians blamed for Russia’s military incursion into Crimea. The EU will also impose travel bans and asset freezes of 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials. White House officials also warned more sanctions would follow if Russia proceeds with the formal annexation of Crimea. Putin is scheduled to deliver a speech on Tuesday.
No big surprise with events in Crimea so far — the diplomatic standoff didn’t end with the referendum but markets are relieved an escalation has not threatened economic growth … so far.
US economic data stronger than expected — industrial production rose 0.6% in February, better than the expected 0.2% and the most in six months. The March Empire State Factory Index climbed to 5.61 in March from 4.48.
The Chinese share market rose 1% yesterday after a positive reaction to the government’s “National New-type Urbanisation Plan” unveiled on the weekend. The plan aims to move around 100m people from the rural hinterland to the growing cities and involves a massive building program of transport networks, urban infrastructure and residential real estate from now until 2020.
Gold fell US$11.60 to US$1367.40 an ounce.
RBA minutes are out today — no major change in message is expected. It’s all about stability.
The US dollar was slightly weaker and the Aussie dollar is stronger, currently trading at US 90.87c.
Euro zone inflation — revised CPI dipped to 0.7% year-on-year, the slowest pace since November 2009.
- Nufarm (NUF) — Will cut jobs as part of a cost-cutting restructure of its Australian operations. They are looking to save up to $13 million. The restructure will include the closure of their Welshpool, WA, manufacturing facility which produces herbicides, and its Lytton, Queensland, plant which makes insecticides and fungicides. Nufarm’s Victorian plants will be expanded to produce the products currently made at the sites that will close. A one-off restructuring cost of up to $39 million will be booked in the current financial year.
- David Jones (DJS) — Reappoints Adviser to Assess Myer Merger Bid. The company has re-appointed management consulting firm Port Jackson Partners as its strategic adviser. Port Jackson Partners will assist DJS in undertaking a review and assessment of the value of synergies that can be extracted if David Jones and Myer were to merge.