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E.L. & C. Baillieu Morning Wrap; Weaker dollar pushes gold marginally higher

Proactive Investors
Sunday, 22 April 2012

*Author: E.L. & C. Baillieu Stockbroking - by Andrew Thain**HEADLINES*
 
- The Dow industrials rose after better-than-forecast quarterly reports from Microsoft and General Electric pushed blue chips to their first weekly gain this month, while Apple's slide helped lead the technology oriented Nasdaq into the red.
 
- European stock markets inched higher, as banks rallied on a rise in a German business-climate index and strong retail sales data from the U.K.
 
- Crude-oil futures ended higher, rising with stock markets and helped by a falling dollar, as improving economic data in Europe led to some hopes for strengthening energy demand.
 
- Gold futures edged higher Friday, underpinned by a weaker dollar but for the most part lacking catalysts to make real headway and not enough to erase a weekly loss.*US MARKETS*
 
The Dow industrials rose after better-than-forecast quarterly reports from Microsoft and General Electric pushed blue chips to their first weekly gain this month, while Apple's slide helped lead the technology-oriented Nasdaq into the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 65.16 points, or 0.5%, to 13029.26. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index advanced 1.61 points, or 0.1%, to 1378.53. Both benchmarks snapped two-week losing streaks. The Dow climbed 1.4% this week, while the S&P 500 added 0.6%.

Microsoft rallied $1.41, or 4.6%, to $32.42, to lead the blue chips' advance after the software company reported fiscal third-quarter results late Thursday that exceeded both revenue and earnings expectations.

Fellow Dow component General Electric tacked on 22 cents, or 1.2%, to 19.36, after the conglomerate reported first-quarter results that topped forecasts. Earnings declined 12% but slightly beat Wall Street estimates, fueled by renewed profit growth in its energy infrastructure division.

McDonald's advanced 66 cents, or 0.7%, to 95.94, after the fast-food chain's first-quarter earnings rose and sales increased slightly faster than expected.*EUROPEAN MARKETS*
 
European stock markets inched higher, as banks rallied on a rise in a German business climate index and strong retail sales data from the U.K.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index closed up 0.5%, at 257.79, after swinging between small gains and losses through most of the session. For the week, the index rose for the first time in five weeks, up 1.7%.

Germany's DAX rose 1.2%, to 6750.12, adding 2.5% for the week, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 climbed 0.5%, to 5772.15, ending the week up 2.1%. Both indexes snapped four-week losing streaks. France's CAC-40 added 0.5%, to 3188.58, falling less than a point on the week.

*
ASIAN MARKETS*
 
Asian stock markets were mixed Friday, with disappointing U.S. economic data depressing demand but the Shanghai exchange rising to a one-month high, boosted by expectations of further policy easing.

South Korea's Kospi was the top loser, down 1.3% to 1974.65, while Japan's Nikkei Stock Average fell 0.3% to 9561.36.
 
Hong Kong's Hang Seng both edged up 0.1%, to 4366.5 and 21010.64, respectively, and the Shanghai Composite Index rose 1.2% to 2406.86, its highest close since March 19.

*
AUSTRALIAN MARKETS*

Australian equities defied negative offshore leads to close on a firmer footing on Friday as the market recorded its second consecutive week of gains.
 
The S&P/ASX 200 Index inched up 0.1 per cent to 4366.5 on the last day of the week despite downbeat US economic data and the ongoing travails of the European debt crisis.
 
Bradken was the worst performer on the S&P/ASX 200 Index as it slumped 10.8 per cent to $7.55 after it downgraded its 2011-12 full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) guidance to between $210 million and $220 million.

*
OIL*
 
Crude-oil futures ended higher, rising with stock markets and helped by a falling dollar, as improving economic data in Europe led to some hopes for strengthening energy demand.
 
Light, sweet crude for May delivery settled 78 cents, or 0.8%, higher at $103.05 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The May contract expires at settlement Friday and futures for June delivery settled $1.16 higher at $103.88 a barrel.*METALS*
 
Gold futures edged higher Friday, underpinned by a weaker dollar but for the most part lacking catalysts to make real headway and not enough to erase a weekly loss.
 
Gold for June delivery advanced $1.40, or 0.1%, to settle at $1,642.80 an ounce on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange. 
Andrew Thain can be contacted by email; CLICK HERE.

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*Proactive Investors is a market leader in the investment news space, providing ASX “Small and Mid-cap” company news, research reports, StockTube videos and One2One Investor Forums.*
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