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Local stocks have now gained just under 6 per cent in the last fortnight.

At the close this afternoon the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3 per cent higher after a solid 1 per cent bounce from this morning s low.

The index finished the week 1.5 per cent higher, which adds to a 4.3 per cent gain last week.

Major banks were mostly stronger today, with CBA lifting 0.3 per cent, Westpac adding 0.7 per cent, NAB rising 0.9 per cent, while ANZ fell 0.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, BHP Billiton lost 0.5 per cent and Rio Tinto fell 0.4 per cent, while Woodside Petroleum managed a 0.3 per cent rise.

Telstra fell 0.6 per cent, CSL rose 0.4 per cent and Wesfarmers gained 1.2 per cent.

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Australians are working more hours than pretty much everyone else, Maria Sharapova is losing millions in sponsorship amid her doping scandal, and a look at the world’s most expensive steak. Here are Chris Kohler’s Best Three.

With just over an hour remaining in the trading day the local market is steaming towards a strong finish.

At 3pm AEDT the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.5 per cent higher at 5177.2 points, which marks a 1.2 per cent bounce from this morning s low.

As it currently stands the index has gained 1.7 per cent for the week and has piled on 6.2 per cent in the last 10 days.

BHP, ANZ, Rio Tinto and Telstra were the only market majors not seeing gains this afternoon.

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(Pic Joshua Lott/Getty Images/AFP)

The five-year return investors can expect from equity and bond investments is at near-financial crisis lows, according to the latest Capital Market Assumptions report from the BlackRock Investment Institute.

BlackRock says it expects compressed market returns in the next five years due to stretched valuations and moderate economic growth.

Its base case calls for 2 per cent real GDP growth for advanced economies, inflation below central banks targets and 4 per cent to 5 per cent growth in emerging markets.

But analysts also expect equities to strongly outperform fixed income over the next five years.

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Small and mid-cap listed investment fund Mirrabooka said it has been buying leisure group Ardent and healthcare group SomnoMed to add to its its 80-plus share portfolio in recent weeks.

As a fund focussed on shares outside the top 50 stocks Mirrabooka has no holdings of banks, but is skewed to healthcare, consumer discretionary and industrials.

Mirrabooka has posted 1 year asset growth of 4.3 per cent (including dividends) and 11.7 per cent over 3-years.

Mirrabooka tells investors at the company s annual meeting this morning that the small and mid-cap sector is providing opportunities for investments in to growing areas of the economy, however the fund is cautious about valuations in some sectors of the market. Dominating the $380 million Mirrabooka portfolio is Treasury Wines, Qube Holdings, Iress and Vocus Communications.

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Mirabooka has added Adrent Leisure, which owns and operates Dreanworld, to its portfolio (Pic Adam Head)

AUD/USD rose from 0.7459 to 0.7479 after PBoC fixed USD/CNY at a two-month low of 6.49050. The 0.34% fall in the fixing was the biggest drop in the past four months.

Persistently lower USD/CNY fixings are frustrating the consensus view that China needs a lower exchange rate to prevent capital outflow swamping its foreign currency reserves.

A stronger CNY is also seen as reducing the need for a lower AUD to maintain exports.

But the USD/CNY fixing is largely tracking the USD index, in line with the PBoC s commentary that it s focussing on stability against a trade-weighted basket of currencies.

AUD/USD last 0.7467.

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(AAP Image/RBA)

Aussie shares have seen a modest bounce a lunch but remain in negative territory as major stocks tick lower.

A bit of a topsy-turvy week on the local market, the index is currently 0.8 per cent higher for the five sessions with less than four hours remaining.

At 12:30pm AEDT the S&P/ASX 200 was 0.3 per cent weaker for the day at 5136.3, up from a low of 5118.5 points hit late this morning.

Banks are slightly weaker, with the exception of ANZ, which has lost 1.4 per cent, while Telstra is down 1.2 per cent.

BHP has lost 1.2 per cent, Rio Tinto is trading flat and Woodside Petroleum has given up 1 per cent.

Australians are among the most dedicated workers in the developed world, with new OECD data showing1 Aussies are putting in more hours at work than pretty much everyone else.

The below graph shows the percentage of workers in OECD (which stands for Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development) countries that usually work more than 50 hours a week and as you can see Australia is second on the list with 14 per cent fitting that category.

But don t complain to a Japanese worker those guys are properly chained to their desks with over 22 per cent knocking out 50 hour weeks.

It s probably not a great thing to be putting in some of the longest hours at work in the world but on the positive side, the data also show Australian job security, employment rate, personal earnings, disposable income and time dedicated to leisure activities are all very good.

The point is if your boss catches you sneaking out of work early, just tell them that as an Australian you ve earned it.

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Australia s S&P/ASX 200 falls 0.5% to a two-day low of 5121.1 in cautious trading after global share markets reacted negatively to the ECB s signal that its done cutting interest rates.

Caution also building before China s latest activity data tomorrow including industrial production, retail sales and fixed assets investment.

A break of Wednesday s low at 5081.9 would be a clear signal that recent consolidation has turned into a serious failure near the downtrend line drawn from the April 27 2015 peak.

Such a move would target potential support from the former neckline resistance of the recent inverse head & shoulders pattern and the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement of the February-March recovery, near 5000 points.

If it breaks 5000 points, the index could retest the 2.5 year low near 4700.

Morgan Stanley has identified five structural themes it expects to affect the Australian share market outlook over the next five-to-ten years, and ten companies that will benefit.

The themes are: global expansion by Australian companies, new economic infrastructure, the new export economy, disruptive technology, and demographics.

The companies tipped to benefit from these themes are: Domino s Pizza, Goodman Group, Virtus Health, Lend Lease, Vocus Communications, Mantra Group, Treasury Wine Estates, Aconex, Aveo Group and Sonic Healthcare.

The local market has started the session on the weaker side of things, with major banks and miners drifting lower in early trade.

At 10:20am AEDT the S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.2 per cent to 5139.8 points.

NAB lost 1 per cent, ANZ fell 0.75 per cent, CBA gave up 0.6 per cent and Westpac opened flat.

In the resources space, Rio Tinto lost 1 per cent, BHP Billiton fell 0.3 per cent and Woodside Petroleum gave up 2.3 per cent.

Telstra lost 0.4 per cent and CSL rose 0.7 per cent.

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(AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

AUD/USD and gold are heading higher according to CLSA.

CLSA technical analyst Laurence Balanco is targeting 78 US cents and that could prove conservative as as negative interest rates and with the Australian dollar seen as a big beneficiary of negative interest rates and a compressing yield curve in Japan.

Balanco says the recent break above the 200-day moving average and October/December 2015 highs has opened the door for a test of next chart resistance from March/April 2015 lows around 0.7570. A break there could run toward 0.7957 in his view.

AUD/USD last 0.7470

Big-name stocks including Slater & Gordon, Ten Network and Cabcharge have been kicked out of the ASX 200 in the latest reshuffle after a rough year saw their share price tumble.

Index funds and huge money managers which track the indexes by investing proportionally in all companies across an index, will no longer be forced to buy companies outside the ASX 200, so it s a huge blow for those who find themselves on the outer.

Meanwhile several up-and-comers have burst into the big league.


Slater & Gordon
Shares crashed as much as 90 per cent from their 2015 high near $8 after the law firm was forced to write down a huge chunk of the value of a recent $1.3 billion UK acquisition, among other problems.

The market hammering wiped around $2 billion off the company s market capitalisation and now finds itself outside the warmth of the ASX 200.

Ten Network
Ten conducted a share consolidation in January that saw the price go from 13.5c to $1.31 without the value of the asset changing.

But the company is still on the nose with investors.

Stiff competition from the likes of Uber are continuing to squeeze the life out of established taxi companies and their payment system of choice, Cabcharge.

CAB shares have dropped almost 32 per cent in the last 12 months but had lost as much as 50 per cent in November.

Karoon Gas
The long-running oil price slump seems to be taking a break at the moment but for some smaller companies like Karoon and AWE the damage has been done.

Karoon Gas has slumped 48 per cent in the last 12 months to last trade at $1.595.

A similar story to Karoon Gas, the oil price slide has made it hard for this resources stock to hold its place in the ASX 200. It has lost 51 per cent in 12 months to last trade at 64 cents.


The collaboration and technologies company has been kicking goals this year with the share price surging 165 per cent in 12 months to see the stock end yesterday at $5.04.

Bellamy s Australia
Australia (and the world s) insatiable demand for high-quality organic baby formula has seen Bellamy s skyrocket this year.

The shares have soared 280 per cent in the last 12 months to last trade at $10.97.

Brickworks shares have gained 12.7 per cent in the last 12 months, which is modest compared with some of the other moves on this list but it s now a member of the ASX 200.

The intellectual property company has seen its shares surge almost 54 per cent in the last year to $7.10.

Saint Barbara
Turbulent financial markets often push investors towards the perceived safeness of gold, which means small miners like Saint Barbara find themselves in favour.

The gold miner has seen its shares explode 1060 per cent in the last year to $2.20.

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Macquarie Group is to appeal against new regulatory conditions imposed on its financial services licence over the handling of client money.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission said an investigation had revealed Macquarie (MQG2) failed to deposit moneys into a designated client trust account and made withdrawals that were not permitted from such an account between 2004 and 2014.

Client money receives statutory protection if a financial services company becomes insolvent or goes out of business.

The investigation followed reports by Macquarie relating to breaches of the client money provisions of the Corporations Act, between March 2004 and 2014.

Macquarie will have to hire an ASIC-approved expert to review, assess and report on the adequacy of the bank s procedures for ensuring compliance with the client money requirements of the Act, and make recommendations for improvements.

ASIC Commissioner John Price said: ASIC expects licensees to maintain strict controls and follow proper procedures in their handling of client funds. Where that does not occur, ASIC will take action to ensure a licensee s ability to continue operating is contingent on its compliance with these requirements.

Macquarie has filed an application for review of the decision in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and has also sought a stay of the decision pending the outcome of the review.

Macquarie said it has already appointed independent professional services firm KPMG and put in place a new industry-leading client money framework.

The new framework has resulted in improvements in client money handling controls.

It said not only were ASIC s proposed conditions duplicative of work that the bank has already done, no incident had resulted in a loss to any client.

Macquarie treats client money with the utmost seriousness and in self-reporting these incidents to ASIC, took a conservative and consultative approach, the bank said. The incidents reported included errors in atypical situations, and all were addressed with improvements to processes and controls.

Time to sell risk assets again according to CLSA s technical analysis.

With lacklustre volumes through this short but sharp rebound, we still classify it as a kickback rally, CLSA technical analyst Laurence Balanco says.

He notes that the Nasdaq 100, Russell 2000, Nikkei 225, ASX200, Kospi 200, LME copper and US 10-year bond yields and crude oil have hit or are close to key resistance levels.

Local stocks are heading for a flat open after US and European stocks lost ground despite bigger-than-expected stimulus measures being announced from the European Central Bank.

The Australian futures share price index is pointing to a 6 point, or 0.12 per cent fall at the open.

Yesterday saw the S&P/ASX 200 record its second negative finish this month as major stocks ended mixed.

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11 hours ago | | Chris Kohler

Good morning and welcome to today s live markets coverage, managed by BusinessNow Editor Chris Kohler and featuring commentary and analysis from Markets Editor David Rogers.

If you ve got a thought on the markets or something you think we should be talking about don t hesitate to join the conversation by using the COMMENTS box over to the right-hand side of the feed.

Those who haven t commented before will be sent to a sign-up page. It s quick and free to register, just scroll to the bottom and fill in your details.

Have a great day!

A long expected block trade in gold miner Regis Resources is underway after US giant, Newmont Mining, decided to finally exit the stock.

Credit Suisse is handling the deal which has been struck at a $2.51, a 4.2 percent discount to the last traded shares.

DataRoom flagged renewed expectations about this sell down last month.

Newmont has taken advantage of a sustained rally in the price of gold and the value of Australian gold miners.

All of Newmont s 97.213m shares are being sold in a $244m exit.

Books on the trade close at 9am with settlement scheduled for Tuesday, according to a term sheet sent to investors.

Newmont s sell down marks the biggest block trade of the year so far after turbulent stock markets resulted in a relatively quiet start to 2016.

Traders had been waiting to hear from the European Central Bank, and at first glance they liked what they heard.

The ECB unveiled a raft of aggressive stimulus measures aimed at boosting the eurozone economy and staving off deflation.

The bank cut all its key interest rates, including trimming its deposit rate further into negative territory.

It will now charge commercial banks a penalty of 0.4 per cent, rather than the previous charge of 0.3 per cent, for the privilege of storing funds with it overnight. The refinancing rate fell from 0.05 per cent to zero.

It will also print more money, increasing the bank s bond-buying program to ‘ 80 billion a month, compared to ‘ 60 billion previously.

President Mario Draghi was on hand with his usual reassuring language, saying a comprehensive set of measures was needed to shore up consumer prices, which have recently started to fall.

Investors on both sides of the Atlantic were pleased at first, sending stocks higher in the US and Europe on the news.

But the rally proved short-lived as traders digested all the central bank s comments. President Draghi suggested there wouldn t be any further rate cuts at future meetings.

And the bank cut its eurozone growth and inflation forecasts.

European markets rallied on the news, then gave up early gains. Germany s DAX 30 lost 2.3 per cent, France s CAC 40 fell 1.7 per cent and the UK s FTSE 100 shed 1.8 per cent.

A sell-off in the resources sector also weighed on Britain s index. In London trade, BHP Billiton tumbled 5 per cent and Rio Tinto fell 3.6 per cent.

Wall Street followed Europe s pattern, with an early spike and then a fall.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.03 per cent lower at the closing bell. The S&P 500 edged up 0.02 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite Index lost 0.3 per cent.

Energy stocks fell 0.6 per cent.

In economic data, new claims for unemployment insurance in the US were the lowest since October, showing an improving jobs market.

Oil prices fell after reports that a meeting of OPEC producers to discuss freezing production might not proceed if Iran doesn t participate.

US Nymex crude lost 1.2 per cent to $US37.84 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent crude shed 2.5 per cent to $US40.47.

Base metals on the London Metal Exchange fell between 0.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent, with copper down the least.

Iron ore lost 3.7 per cent to $US57.40 a tonne, continuing to drift lower after its surge earlier this week on the back of Chinese stimulus plans.

In other market action:

The Australian dollar is still at elevated levels but has fallen slightly. At 7.05am (AEDT) the local unit was buying US74.49c, from US74.79c yesterday.

Gold rose by 1.2 per cent to $US1272.80 per ounce as equities fell.

ASX futures are pointing 16 points lower at 7.05am (AEDT).

Ahead: Lending finance data is due.

In the US, import and export prices data is scheduled.


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