Markets Live: Stocks lift but caution remains – Sydney Morning Herald

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April 22, 2013 – 4:15PM

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The Australian sharemarket has closed at the day’s highs, with broad gains helping the ASX start the week on a winning note.

5:17pm: That’s all for Markets Live this Monday. We’ll see you again tomorrow.

Click here for a full wrap of the day’s session.

4:48pm: A late story for you, Commonwealth Bank’s one-fifth owned Chinese lender, Qilu Bank, is reported to have been embroiled in a government crack-down on illegal bond trading.

An executive from the regional lender Qilu was one of three people arrested last week by Chinese authorities, as part of an investigation into ‘‘skimming’’ client profits to benefit themselves, according to multiple media reports.

The practice allegedly involved fund managers transferring part of their portfolio to a counterparty account, and an investigation has been launched by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau.

Click here for the full story

4:29pm: Here are some of the biggers winners and losers today:

The best and worst performers on the ASX200 for April 22, 2013.

The best and worst performers on the ASX200 for April 22, 2013.

4:14pm: The sharemarket has closed at the day’s high, as the benchmark SP/ASX200 jumped 34.7 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4966.6, and the broader All Ords rose 32.4 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 4955.4.

4:06pm:QBE has had its credit rating cut by Moody’s due to weaker earnings growth and ongoing concerns about its debt levels.

After launching a review of the global insurer last year, Moody’s today said it would downgrade QBE’s credit rating from A3 to Baa1 with a “negative” outlook.

“The downgrade of the rating primarily reflects the group’s weakened earnings, internal capital generation and debt service coverage measures, as well as QBE’s sustained elevated financial and operational leverage profile, considered on both a nominal and tangible basis,” Moody’s analyst Alan Murray said.

Despite the downgrade, QBE shares were up 11 cents, at $13.11, in late afternoon trade.

4:00pm:A top Google executive insists the company’s ‘‘key’’ role in developing Britain’s electronic commerce sector should be taken into account in the row over its controversial tax arrangements.

According to figures cited by Conservative MP Charlie Elphicke, Google paid only STG3.4 million ($5.1 million) in British corporation tax in 2011 on revenues totalling about STG2.5 billion ($3.73 billion), sparking fury in austerity-hit Britain.

But Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt told BBC Radio 4’s World at One program on Monday the company had not acted illegally and had contributed significantly to Britain’s economic growth.

Defending the company’s tax bill, he said: ‘‘Of course that omits the fact that we also hire more than 2,000 employees and are investing heavily in Britain.

3:49pm:Generation Healthcare REIT has made its first NSW purchase being the Westmead Rehabilitation Hospital in Sydney for $20 million, writes BusinessDay’s Carolyn Cummins.

This is GHC’s ninth acquisition and largest purchase since the APN Funds Management Limited took over as the fund’s responsible entity from ING Real Estate Healthcare Fund in July 2011.

Under the plan, GHC has restructured the tenancy lease at the hospital with Pulse Health Ltd, an ASX-listed hospital operator and healthcare services provider for a new 25 year term. A $23.1 million fully underwritten institutional placement ($8 million) and entitlement offer of $15.1 million will fund the acquisition of the freehold asset.

The chief executive of GHC, Miles Wentworth said the equity raising was open to all exixting investors as well as enticing new institutional-grade shareholders onto the register.

He said the acquisition would help diversify the trust’s asset base which includes hospitals, medical centres, laboratories and other purpose built healthcare facilities.

In February GHC bought a 1.2 hectare site opposite Victoria’s Casey Public Hospital, with plans for a staged development of a $150 million healthcare campus.

3:39pm:Three more airlines have settled with the NZ Commerce Commission in the long-running air cargo cartel case, paying $9.6 million in penalties, and leaving national carrier Air New Zealand as the final airline yet to do so.

In the High Court, Cathay Pacific was ordered to pay $3.4m, Thai Airways International $2.7m and MASkargo System Berhad, replacing Malaysian Airlines, $2.6m for fixing air cargo prices between February 2000 and February 2006, the antitrust regulator said in a statement on Monday.

The airlines were also ordered to pay the commission’s costs. That takes the total penalties to more than $35m.

3:33pm: The Australian stock market notched up a day of gains to start the week thanks to solid performance from the blue chip mining and banking stocks, CMC Markets trader Tim Waterer says.

“The calmer finish to the week from US equities as well as the upward move in resource prices allowed the ASX200 to make forward progress, however there was still a cautious tone present in the market today ahead of the next Chinese economic indicator due on Tuesday (HSBC Flash Manufacturing PMI).”

3:26pm: Gas distributor Envestra hopes to raise $240 million to expand infrastructure and deliver more gas.

The company has launched a share offer at 99 cents per share, to be taken up between April 22 and May 15.

Participation in the offer is open to all shareholders who were on the company’s register on April 8.

The company expects to spend $240 million upgrading old cast iron and steel mains and enhancing the capability of its networks.

Shareholders can place offers in bundles of between $1,000 and $15,000.

Envestra shares are up 0.7 per cent to $1.0375.

3:13pm: The US economy will officially become 3 per cent bigger in July as part of a shake-up that will see government statistics take into account 21st century components such as film royalties, RD spending, and other intangible assets, the Financial Times notes.

A BEA official said it would be the biggest change since computer software was included in GDP in 1999. The impact.

3:01pm:Spot iron ore prices may approach their lowest level for the year this week with Chinese mills in no rush to stock up on the steelmaking raw material given an uncertain outlook for steel demand in the world’s top consumer.

Shanghai steel futures were steady today, having recovered only modestly after hitting seven-month lows last week during a broad-based commodities selldown, suggesting investors were not too confident that demand would gather pace in the near term.

“Mills are still in a slow mode in terms of buying any seaborne cargo especially if the shipment date is a bit forward,” a Shanghai-based iron ore trader said.

“They would prefer to take prompt cargo, or those due to arrive in ports in one to two week’s time, because they are sure where prices stand, for both iron ore and steel. When there’s a lot of uncertainty, mills won’t take the risk of picking up forward cargoes.” 

Benchmark 62 per cent grade iron ore dropped 0.4 per cent to $US138 a tonne on Friday, the lowest level in almost two weeks, according to data provider Steel Index. The price touched a low of $US132.90 in mid-March.

Investment bank Macquarie said the results of its steel survey in March of 40 steel mills, 30 steel traders and 30 iron ore traders showed that “neither mills nor traders have seen a clear improvement in demand, but expectations remain that this is coming”.

“Traders are signalling that they expect a pick-up in sales in April, and this should help inventory fall further,” Macquarie said in a note.

2:44pm: As the country gets ready for its 23rd millionth Australian, BusinessDay‘s Michael Pascoe has written a cracker story just for the occasion.

Congratulations are indeed deserved because, Baby 23,000,000, you will have won the equivalent of the global lottery just by being born here. If your mother is an unmarried teenager reliant on our social welfare system, you’re still much better off than most babies born on April 23. Odds are that you will have better housing, better health and much longer life expectancy than your mewing peers.

You have a universal free health care system serving your immediate needs when the world’s richest nation still can’t organise such a thing and most of the babies born tomorrow will do so in quite basic circumstances. You’ll have doctors and nurses concerned for your welfare and the start of an immunisation program that gives you a world-leading chance of making it to primary school – unless you’re unfortunate enough to score one of those dipsy organic Mosman mums.

And talking of school, you have the promise of 13 years of free education, if you want it and have the ability and common sense to grab the opportunity when much of the world is lucky to finish primary. Thereafter, we have a HECS system that offers you the chance of tertiary education without your parents being rich and/or apprenticeships in very valuable trades.

You have struck it particularly lucky in being born in a country that enjoys the rule of law – more-so if you’re rich and white, but it’s still there. You’ll get to decide which bunch of politicians is less-worse than the other on a regular basis and make your way in a society that is one of the least corrupt on the planet. (Everything is relative.)

Click here for the full story

2:31pm:Qantas has diverted $15 million in funding for marketing campaigns from Tourism Australia to NSW’s tourism body, as the breakdown in relations between the airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce and his former mentor Geoff Dixon shows no signs of ending.

As part of a three-year deal totalling $30 million, Qantas and the NSW will each invest $15 million in marketing campaigns to promote Sydney and regional NSW to overseas tourists.

Mr Joyce said it would be ‘‘by far the biggest’’ of Qantas’ contribution to a state tourism body – money which would have previously gone to Tourism Australia.

The partnership will include international advertising and marketing campaigns, and activities focused around major events. They will start in September.  

Premier Barry O’Farrell welcomed the new agreement in a bid to attract more visitors from China, South-East Asia, Japan, New Zealand, the US and Europe.

2:20pm: The coalition can’t commit to returning the federal budget to surplus in its first term because it can’t rely on the government’s figures, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey says.

Treasurer Wayne Swan on Sunday revealed budget revenue had taken a $7.5 billion ‘‘sledgehammer’’ hit because of a high dollar and lower terms of trade.

Mr Hockey says that amount represents less than two per cent of revenue, showing Mr Swan is ‘‘adjusting numbers to suit his political spin’’, making it difficult for the coalition to base any promises on them.

‘‘He releases what he thinks is a revenue number but he doesn’t talk about expenditure, how much more they might have spent than they were expecting or how much they’re going to spend between now and the end of the financial year,’’ Mr Hockey told Fairfax radio.

2:10pm:Self-managed super funds will be among the biggest buyers of corporate bonds issued under new laws designed to bolster the fledgling corporate debt market, Treasury says.

In an attempt to give people a greater opportunity to invest in fixed-income products, the government plans to make it simpler and cheaper for big companies to sell corporate bonds to retail investors.

With Parliament now assessing the legislation, Dr Richard Sandlant from Treasury’s retail investor division today predicted the products would be particularly appealing to older investors and SMSFs.

Bonds pay investors a fixed return and are typically more stable than equities – which are the biggest asset in most superannuation portfolios.

Debt securities accounted for only 0.7 per cent of self-managed super funds’ assets, he said, citing figures from the Tax Office.

1:56pm: Here’s a look at how the region is going today:

  • Nikkei(Japan): +1.9%
  • Shanghai: -0.4%
  • Taiwan: +0.5%
  • South Korea: +0.8%
  • Singapore: +0.1%
  • New Zealand: +0.7%

1:40pm: This is an interesting yarn from Paul Krugman of The New York Times: America’s jobless trap.

(Former US president) Franklin Delano Roosevelt told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself.

But when future historians look back at our monstrously failed response to economic depression, they probably won’t blame fear, per se. Instead, they’ll castigate our leaders for fearing the wrong things.

For the overriding fear driving economic policy has been debt hysteria, fear that unless we slash spending we’ll turn into Greece any day now. After all, haven’t economists proved that economic growth collapses once public debt exceeds 90 per cent of gross domestic product?

Well, the famous red line on debt, it turns out, was an artifact of dubious statistics, reinforced by bad arithmetic. And America isn’t and can’t be Greece, because countries that borrow in their own currencies operate under very different rules from those that rely on someone else’s money.

After years of repeated warnings that fiscal crisis is just around the corner, the US government can still borrow at incredibly low interest rates.

Click here for the full story

1:28pm:China’s CITIC Pacific is delaying completion of its $8 billion Sino Iron project in Australia until late May because of engineering problems, the latest in a series of setbacks to plague China’s single-largest foreign mining investment.

Sino Iron had already missed a February start date for the project, which was originally expected to ship its first ore in 2010 to Asian steel mills eager to cut reliance on mega-suppliers Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton

CITIC Pacific is set on Tuesday and Wednesday to face Australian mining magnate Clive Palmer’s company Mineralogy Pty Ltd, which holds lease rights to the project, in the Supreme Court of Western Australia in a dispute over royalty payments.

Mineralogy believes CITIC Pacific should already be paying royalties, distilling the case down to a clause in the right-to-mine pact that states a royalty must be paid when the ore is taken.

Mineralogy contends “taken” means when ore is mined. CITIC Pacific’s interpretation of the term is when ore is exported.

1:17pm:OZ Minerals is trading at a 10-year low, after the company conceded it would produce about 8 to 10 per cent less copper than forecast this year, writes BusinessDay‘s Peter Ker.

The production downgrade was reported after OZ suffered a wall slide at its flagship Prominent Hill mine in South Australia, which could take until August to be remediated.

The company’s share price hasn’t been this low since April 22, 2003, having fallen a further 37 cents, or 7.1 per cent, today to be fetching $4.44 shortly after midday.

Share price comparisons over such a distance can be deceptive with OZ Minerals, given the company only came into its current structure in 2008 when two companies – Oxiana and Zinifex – merged to become OZ.

The company also changed significantly in 2009 when most of its assets were purchased by Chinese controlled miner MMG.

But nonetheless, the share price has never been lower since the company took on its current structure.
The wall slide comes just weeks after Rio Tinto reported that a wall slide at a US copper mine would reduce copper refining by close to 30 per cent.

1:08pm:Australand Property Group could still see a change in ownership of part of the company of the whole of it.

Chairman Olivier Lim says the process that could lead to a change is well underway and is being conducted in conjunction with a review of CapitaLand’s investment in the group.

Mr Lim on said confidential information had been provided to selected parties as part of the process.

‘‘No conclusion has been reached at this point and I would like to emphasise that there is no guarantee that any proposal will be developed for securityholders’ consideration,’’ Mr Lim said at the group’s annual general meeting in Sydney.

‘‘The management team and our advisers are focused on bringing the process to a conclusion as efficiently as possible, and we will advise the market of the outcome in due course.’’

In early February, Australand said it was working with CapitaLand, its major securityholder, to establish whether any proposal arising from CapitaLand’s review of its investment in Australand could be developed that was in the interest of all Australand securityholders.

12:50pm: Commonwealth Bank maintains its lead over rivals in terms of customer satisfaction rankings, latest figures from Roy Morgan Research shows.

In March some 80.4 per cent of CBA’s customers were satisfied, followed by the National Australia Bank on 79.3 per cent (up 0.1 percentage points). ANZ on 77.3 per cent (up 1.1 percentage points) overtook Westpac on 77.1 per cent (down 0.6 percentage points).

The latest figures come amid a period where there has been no interest rate moves which can often trigger a negative reaction. Customer satisfaction remains a closely watched indicator among banks as it can often be a forward barometer for new business.

The Roy Morgan figures show banks’ efforts to win over customer satisfaction has been focused more on lower value customers as this group has shown the  greatest improvement over the last 12 months.

12:42pm: Meanwhile, gold is extending its recovery from last week’s slump, gaining another $US15.19 to $US1419.04.

Traders say the precious metal is being supported by physical demand and as hedge funds and other big speculators plough new money into gold.

12:38pm: Sticking with commodities, US crude oil is up for a third day to trade near the highest price in a week. Hedge funds cut bullish bets on WTI by the most in almost two months.

WTI for May delivery, which expires today, rose as much as 33 cents and last traded at $US88.27. The more-active June future gained 29 cents to $US88.56. Brent for June settlement increased 33 cents to $US99.98 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange.

‘‘While we’re holding around this zone, the outlook is starting to look more positive for oil,’’ says Michael McCarthy, a chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney. ‘‘We should see a floor under oil at current levels. A lot of the falls that we’ve seen, not only in oil but other industrial commodities, were related to the weaker growth numbers that we’ve seen out of China and the US.’’

12:34pm: Copper has declined for a second day amid speculation that an earthquake in China’s Sichuan province will hurt demand for the metal in the near-term before it boosts consumption in the reconstruction.

Metal for delivery in three months fell as much as 1.5 per cent to $US6888.75 a metric tonne on the London Metal Exchange, before trading at $US6935.50, headed for the lowest close since October 2011. Copper declined for a fifth consecutive week and dropped into a bear market.

The August futures contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange dropped 1.1 per cent to 50,110 yuan ($US8107) a tonne.

The death toll rose to 188 today with more than 11,500 injured after a magnitude 6.6 earthquake hit Lushan county on April 20. Coal mining infrastructure also suffered serious damage, according to Xinhua News Agency.

‘‘The event adds to the negative sentiment for copper,’’ says Lian Zheng, an analyst at Xinhu Futures. ‘‘This may hurt demand first before it boosts consumption in reconstruction. Copper may head to test $US6500.’’

12:14pm: The NSW government must start building a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek after Melbourne announced plans to develop Avalon airport, the NSW Business Chamber says.

Victoria today moved a step closer to opening a second international airport with the signing of a new deal giving the Philippines the rights for the first international flights into Avalon Airport, about 55km southwest of Melbourne’s CBD.

‘‘I don’t believe that Sydneysiders want to see Australia’s global city eclipsed by Melbourne but that is exactly what we are going to get if we don’t end the standoff and get on with the job of developing the Badgerys Creek site into a major Airport for western Sydney,’’ NSW Business Chamber CEO Stephen Cartwright said.

Around Sydney, there are four potential sites – each favoured by different levels of government, business groups and unions.

The federal government is due to hand down a 3200 page report in the coming weeks, examining Wilton, northwest of Wollongong, and Richmond, north of Penrith, as potential sites.

The business chamber and Unions NSW both say Badgerys Creek, about 55 kilometres southwest of the CBD, is the best choice.

However, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell wants the second airport built at Canberra with a high speed rail link between the nation’s capital and Sydney.

12:03pm:Discovery Metals’ top shareholder and former suitor, Chinese firm Cathay Fortune, said it will not support the Africa-focused copper producer’s plan to shore up its funding.

Cathay Fortune, a private equity firm founded by Chinese billionaire Yu Yong, working with the China-Africa Development Fund, scrapped an $824 million bid for Discovery Metals in February over concerns about the target’s key copper project in Botswana.

But it remains Discovery’s top shareholder, with a 13.7 per cent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data.

Discovery said in its quarterly report released late on Friday that it had $16.9 million in cash, down nearly two-thirds from the amount available in December.

Discovery Metals went on a trading halt on Friday pending an announcement on a financing plan.

11:53am:NAB’s Manufacturing Activity Index improved in Q1, up to neutral levels – driven largely by less negative levels for business confidence. The index implies no growth in quarterly manufacturing activity – which would represent a slowdown according to recent official data. 

The index edged higher in the March quarter – back up to neutral levels, from -0.3 points in Q4 2012. This index level implies that there was no growth in quarterly manufacturing activity in Q1.

11:41am: A radical decision by ratings agency Standard Poor’s to turn $3.6 billion of equity into debt could see Australian firms shun once-popular hybrid securities and seek refuge in far simpler forms of debt such as retail bonds.

In a game-changing move announced early this month, SP overhauled its criteria on hybrids, a blend of debt and equity, and revoked the 100 percent equity credit the agency assigned when the securities were initially sold.

“We continually reassess our ratings methodologies, adopting changes as needed, including to respond to changing market conditions and behaviours,” SP said when it revoked the equity rating.

The severity of the changes caught some borrowers off guard as the once-cheap equity suddenly became very expensive debt.

“It’s very simple, if you want equity, issue equity. If you want debt, issue debt,” said Simon Milne, a former treasurer at gaming group Crown and toll road operator Transurban. “But don’t do a hybrid.”

11:30am: In morning trade, the Nikkei share average climbed 2.1 per cent to a near five-year high, with exporters taking the lead as the yen weakened after the Group of 20 economies stopped short of criticising Japan’s sweeping monetary expansionary policies.

The Nikkei was up 286.59 points at 13,603.07 after trading as high as 13,611.58, its highest since June 2008.

Exporters charged higher as the dollar firmed against the yen to within a whisker of 100 after the G20 refrained from singling out Tokyo’s reflationary policies as some in the markets had feared.

In a communique after a two-day meeting, the G20 simply said it would be “mindful” of possible side effects from extended periods of monetary stimulus.

11:21am: Looking across the ditch, New Zealand’s tourist numbers are up, thanks in part to an early Easter, the England cricket team’s tour of the country and marketing campaigns centred on the release of The Hobbit.

The latest figures from Statistics New Zealand show that international visitor arrivals for March were up 13 per cent on figures from March 2012.

The figure of 270,700 arrivals last month was the highest ever recorded for March, easily surpassing the previous high of 250,800 arrivals in March 2008, Statistics New Zealand population statistics project manager Susan Hollows says.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says there have been strong arrivals from several target markets, including Australia, North America, the UK and Germany.There was an almost 16 per cent growth in visitors from the UK, helped by having the Barmy Army in town to watch the English cricketers, Mr Bowler says.

Further, growth in the US and Canadian markets is partly being put down to tourism campaigns leveraging off the release of the first film in The Hobbit trilogy.

11:11am: Copper producer Oz Minerals has lowered its output forecast and raised its cost estimate as it grapples with a slippage at its main mine, writes BusinessDay‘s Glenda Kwek.

The Australian firm said in a statement to the ASX today that it was lowering its 2013 production expectations down to 82,000 to 88,000 tonnes copper from 90,000 to 95,000 tonnes.

Its production guidance for gold remained unchanged.

Oz Minerals also raised its cost estimate from $1.50-$1.65 a pound to $1.65-$1.80 a pound.

The company said it was working on remediation following further slippage in the overburden material in the south wall of the Malu open pit at Prominent Hill in South Australia.

Oz Minerals will hold its annual meeting in Melbourne on May 28.

The quarterly report came as copper followed gold downwards on global markets last week.

Copper recorded its biggest weekly loss for 16 months, with the London Metal Exchange down 1.4 per cent at $US6988 ($6797) a metric ton.

11:04am: Still basking in the glow of its much-hyped alliance with Emirates, Qantas faces a better outlook in the domestic aviation market, which represents the core of its earnings. 

RBS Morgans analysts say the capacity glut in the domestic market is showing further signs of easing. They point to airline schedules for September showing a 1 per cent decline on the same month last year.

‘‘With Qantas continuing to trade below [net tangible assets], we see further upside potential in the share price with the capacity issue subsiding, the Qantas international business on the path to recovery and the potential for the dividend to be reinstated at the full-year result,’’ the analysts said in a note today.

RBS Morgans analysts estimate the domestic market has excess capacity of about 3 per cent.

‘‘A 1 per cent decline is expected for September as the carriers rationalise capacity and Tiger shifts capacity to smaller routes,’’ they said.

‘‘This strengthens the likelihood that the market will be back in balance within six months.’’

Shares in Qantas rose 1.7 per cent cent to $1.78 this morning, while Virgin Australia was up 1.2 per cent at 43.5 cents.

10:55am: Australian drug maker Pharmaxis is in a trading halt ahead of the release of its Phase III bronchiectasis clinical trial (B305) of cystic fibrosis drug Bronchitol.

The trial is a significant milestone for the biotechnology firm, which was hit by a setback earlier this year when the US Food and Drug Administration rejected Bronchitol for marketing in the country.

“B305 is a large trial and the results require detailed analysis,” the company said in a statement to the ASX this morning.

“Pharmaxis requests an immediate trading halt of its securities pending the analysis and announcement of the results of the trial.”

Gary Phillips, Pharmaxis’ newly appointed chief executive, told investors in an earnings call earlier this month that he expected a new trial designed with the help of the FDA would begin in the first quarter of 2014.

Pharmaxis reported a net loss of $9.7 million in the three months to March 31, as compared to a $9 million net loss in the previous corresponding period.

10:50am: And the losers:

  • Oz Minerals: -5.4%
  • Medusa Mining: -4.4%
  • Resolute Mining: -4.1%
  • Drillsearch: -3.5%
  • Atlas Iron: -2.5%

10:48am: In early trading, here are the biggest winners:

  • Coalspur mines:+7.4%
  • Boart Longyear: +6.1%
  • NRW Holdings: +5.7%
  • James Hardie: +4.2%
  • Iluka: +3.2%

10:38am: What a NSW judge found will send shock waves through the ranks of economic consultants, Peter Martin writes in this interesting yarn:

Rio Tinto lashed out at the NSW Land and Environment Court last Monday after it overturned government approval for a massive expansion of its Warkworth open cut coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

The decision was ”significantly obstructing investment and job creation in New South Wales”, the mining giant thundered.

It was ”a blow to our plans for the Mount Thorley Warkworth mine and the jobs of the 1300 people who work there”.

As it happened the judge spent a good deal of time considering the impact on jobs, especially Rio’s far-fetched claim that its plan would have created an extra 44,600 jobs.

It will never again be safe to come up with a big number for jobs created (”direct and indirect”) expecting the decision-maker to give it a tick because it’s the outcome of an economic model.

The Treasury has been on to the scam for a long time.

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10:30am:Shares in OZ Minerals are down 21 cents to $4.60 after the miner reduced its copper production forecasts and raised cost estimates.

10:26am:Live betting odds are set to be banned during sports after the industry’s peak body, Free TV Australia, said it would draft a new code of practice, writes BusinessDay‘s Lucy Battersby.

In a move that would severely restrict the appearance of bookmakers like Tom Waterhouse, the new code also bans commentators and guests from promoting live betting odds during play and for 30 minutes before and after events.

It was designed to “reduce and control the promotion of live odds during the broadcast of live sporting events”, FreeTV said in a statement this morning.

The proposed code was open for public comment until 20 May, after which it would be submitted to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

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10:16am: Early on, the benchmark SP/ASX200 is up 21.4 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4953.3 while the broader All Ords has added 20.4 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4943.4.

10:12am:Also, iron ore slipped 0.4 per cent to $US138 per tonne.

10:03am: On Friday, US stocks rose as earnings from Google and other companies lifted tech shares, but the gains weren’t enough to stop the SP 500 from suffering its worst week since November.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average on Friday rose 10.37, or 0.1 per cent, to 14,547.51. The index rallied after spending much of the day in the red.

The Dow was held back by shares of IBMs, which posted their largest drop in eight years after the company’s quarterly results missed estimates. IBM’s stock ended down 8.3 per cent at $US190.

The broad-based SP 500 jumped 13.64, or 0.9 per cent, to 1555.25, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index added 39.69, or 1.25 per cent, to 3,206.06.

For the week, the SP 500 ended down 2.1 per cent. The index, however, managed a finish above its 50-day moving average after ending below the level on Thursday for the first time this year.

Boosting the SP 500 on Friday were shares of Google, which gained 4.4 per cent to $US799.87 a day after posting upbeat results.

9:49am: The Australian dollar is lower, hitting a six-week low of $US1.0259 before recovering slightly to $US1.0273 as its US counterpart rallies amid concern about the weak global economic growth.

Bank of New Zealand currency strategist Mike Jones said the Australian dollar lost ground during the offshore session on Friday as the greenback  rallied against the Japanese yen.

‘‘That stronger US dollar was the catalyst for the sell-off in the Aussie late in the Friday session,’’ Jones said from Wellington. ‘‘There is that cloud of uncertainty and negativity lingering over markets as we’re seeing some signs that global growth is dropping back a little bit.”

The dollar is also buying 102.6 yen and 78.7 euro cents.

9:45am: The Australian share market is expected to open in positive territory after Wall Street and other overseas markets posted gains on Friday. Here’s how the main markets performed in offshore trade:SPI future are 11 points higher at 4937

  • The Australian dollar is buying $US1.0279
  • On Wall Street, the SP500 rose 0.9%
  • London’s FTSE gained 0.7%, Frankfurt’s Dax fell 0.2%
  • Gold rose 0.2% to $US1395 an ounce
  • Brent oil added 52 cents ot $US99.65 a barrel
  • Copper fell 1.4% to $US6988 a tonne

For more details on international markets, read this morning’s need2know.



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