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News: Outlook: ASX set for breather after buoyant week



  1. Following a strong run of gains the Australian share market is set to take a breather after Wall Street fell off session highs. US investors become unnerved as the oil price moved lower amid reports the European Central Bank will not accept Greek government bonds as collateral. In China the nation’s central bank has moved to boost liquidly through easing its bank reserve requirements. Today in Australia a number of company earnings results are due and official retail sales numbers are expected for the month before Christmas. 
     
    Global markets
     
    Wall Street ended mixed on Wednesday: The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.04 per cent to close at 17,673, the S&P 500 slipped 0.4 per cent to close at 2,042 and the Nasdaq dipped 0.2 per cent to close at 4,717.
     
    European markets saw a soft finish to Wednesday’s session: London's FTSE 100 lost 0.2 per cent, France's CAC 40 added 0.4 per cent and Germany's DAX firmed 0.2 per cent.
     
    Asian markets put in a mixed performance on Wednesday: Japan’s Nikkei climbed almost 2 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lifted 0.5 per cent, and China’s Shanghai Composite fell 1 per cent.
     
    The Australian share market soared 1.2 per cent yesterday and posted its tenth straight day of gains: The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 70 points to close at 5,777 on Wednesday. On the futures market the SPI is 10 points lower. 
     
    Currencies 
     
    The Australian dollar at 8:25am was buying $US0.777, 51.14 Pence Sterling, 91.05 Yen and 68.47 Euro cents.
     
    Economic news due out today
     
    Australian Bureau of Statistics: Retail trade data for December
     
    National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB): Business survey for December quarter
     
    Housing Industry Association: New home sales figures for December
     
    Company news
     
    Nufarm Limited (ASX:NUF) has unveiled a $100 million cost cutting drive and announced the resignation of its Managing Director and CEO Doug Rathbone. The agricultural chemical company has appointed commercial operations executive Greg Hunt as acting CEO as it starts the global search for a new boss. Shares in Nufarm dropped 3.99 per cent to close at $5.77 following the announcement. 
     
    Vocus Communications Limited (ASX:VOC) has announced a fibre construction joint venture with Spark New Zealand Limited (ASX:SPK) called Connect 8. Vocus will sell its New Zealand construction division to the new JV and Spark will acquire 50 per cent of the JV for an upfront cash payment and an agreed level of annual construction spend. Shares in Vocus Communications dropped 2.86 per cent to close at $6.12 following the announcement. 
     
    Ex-dividends 

    Australian Foundation Investment Co. Limited (ASX:AFI) paying a 9 cent fully franked dividend
    Advanced Share Registry Limited (ASX:ASW) paying a 2 cent fully franked dividend
     
    Commodities 

    Gold has gained $4.20 to $US1,265 an ounce for the April contract on Comex. 
    Silver has risen $0.07 to $17.40 for March. 
    Copper has added $0.01 to $2.59 a pound. 
    Oil has dropped $4.60 to $US48.45 a barrel for March light crude in New York.

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