Markets Live: Stocks tipped to open flat

Australian shares are expected to open flat despite modest falls on Wall Street on fiscal cliff concerns and declines on European markets as the region slipped into its second recession since 2009.

10.02am: Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has defended attempts by his company, Fortescue Metals Group, to defer more than $200 million in royalty payments to the Western Australian Government, saying the failed attempt was based on “sound logic”.

In comments that amount to the first time Fortescue has admitted seeking to avoid the payment, Mr Forrest said the deferral was designed to ensure the restart of expansion works at the Kings iron ore project went ahead.

Mr Forrest said the deferral had been designed to ensure the expansion could continue if iron ore prices stayed around $US90 a tonne but had become redundant when it recovered to $US120 a tonne, where it still rests today.

“We put that logic to the WA Government,” he told ABC Radio.

Read the full story here

9.58am: There’s bad news for the big banks this morning with research showing none of the four heavyweights rank in the top 10 when it comes to Australia’s preferred financial services provider.

Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank and ANZ are all outranked by their smaller rivals, according to data compiled by consumer feedback website ProductReview杭州夜网

ING Direct is number one, followed by Heritage Bank, a customer-owned business, and ME Bank, which was established by super funds and unions.Other top-10 banks include Bendigo Bank, Bank of Cyprus and Macquarie Bank.

All four of the big banks received an average rating of 2.6 out of 5.0 on the ProductReview website, leaving them well down the list.

9.53am: The 17-nation eurozone economy is back in recession – its second since 2009.

The figures – a shrinkage of 0.1 per cent compared with the three months to June when it contracted 0.2 per cent – made grim reading.

“The data confirmed that, despite continued growth in Germany and France, the eurozone as a whole is now officially in recession. We expect the recession to deepen markedly in the coming quarters,” Capital Economics analysts said.

The news sent Europe’s big markets backwards, with the DAX 30 in Frankfurt closing down 0.82 per cent to 7043.42 points, while in Paris the CAC 40 fell 0.52 per cent to 3382.40 points.

In London, the FTSE 100 index of leading companies dropped 0.77 per cent to 5677.75 points, hit also by worse-than-expected British retail sales.

9.50am: Recent analyst rating changes:    QBE cut to ‘negative’ by A.M. Best    Cochlear cut to ‘underperform’ at Credit Suisse    Iluka cut to ‘underperform’ at Macquarie    Iress cut to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs    CSR upgraded to ‘neutral’ from ‘buy’ at Goldman Sachs    Seven West Media raised to ‘buy at Duetsche Bank

9.47am: BP has agreed to pay a record $4.36 billion in fines for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and will plead guilty to obstruction and criminal negligence in the deaths of 11 workers.

The company’s reputation was ravaged after an April 20, 2010 explosion on the BP-leased Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and unleashed the biggest marine oil spill in the industry’s history.

The massive criminal fine – which will be paid over six years – will be relatively easy for BP to absorb. It has a market value of $US127 billion and last month hiked its shareholder dividend after posting a bumper third quarter profit of $US5.43 billion.

Group chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg said the ‘‘resolution is in the best interest of BP and its shareholders.’’

Read more here

9.40am: On the ASX24, the SPI futures contract was 3 point higher to 4353. The slide in the Aussie dollar continued. The local unit was recently buying $US1.0324, about 1.25 US cents since late Wednesday, and down from yesterday’s close of $US1.0355. It was also buying 83.81 yen, 80.86 euro cents and 65.16 pence.

What you need to knowThe SPI was 3 points higher at 4353The $A was trading at $US1.0324In late trade, the S&P500 was down 0.12% to 1353.87In Europe, the FTSE100 lost 0.77% to 5677.75China iron ore added 40 US cents to $US122.80Gold lost 0.9% to $US1713.80 an ounceWTI crude oil lost $US1.33 to $US84.99 a barrelRJ/CRB commodities index added 0.61% to 293.92

9.33am: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Thursday.

Contributors: Thomas Hunter, Richard Hughes, Jens Meyer, Max Mason

This blog is not intended as investment advice

BusinessDay with agencies

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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