The S&P / ASX 200 Index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has followed the lead of offshore markets, rising 0.8%, as US consumer confidence rose to six-year highs.
Here’s a quick wrap of today’s ASX stock market news.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it won’t oppose Insurance Australia Group Limited’s (ASX: IAG) acquisition of Wesfarmers Limited’s (ASX: WES) underwriting insurance business for $1.85 billion. But it seems the market isn’t too happy about it, with both shares trading down at lunchtime.
Fertiliser group Nufarm Limited (ASX: NUF) has reported a 77% rise in underlying net profit to $18.8 million, but shares are down around 2.7% as managing director Doug Rathbone predicted tough conditions to continue in Australia thanks to continuing drought conditions.
Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX: SIP) has acquired wholesaler and distributor of pharmaceutical products to hospitals and retail pharmacies, Central Healthcare, for $24.5 million. Shares in Sigma were up around 3.7% at the time of writing.
National Australia Bank (ASX: NAB) is facing ongoing issues with its UK businesses, and has announced that it is closing 28 unsustainable branches across its subsidiaries Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank. The bank is still trying to extricate itself from the UK, with reports that its UK businesses are up for sale for an estimated £2.4 billion.
Speculation continues in our nation’s newspapers surrounding a potential tie-up between Myer Holdings Ltd (ASX: MYR) and David Jones Limited (ASX: DJS). Myer’s boss Bernie Brookes has reportedly stated that the company could resort to borrowing to sweeten its offer for David Jones. Myer is also reportedly considering selling off David Jones’ flagship properties, which could be worth north of $600 million.
In other news, the Australian dollar remains stubbornly high at over 91.5 US cents, the gold price rose to US$1,311 an ounce, while iron ore has climbed 1.1% to US111.80 a tonne.
RBA Governor Glenn Stevens is expected to speak at a conference in Hong Kong later this afternoon, with speculation rife over whether he will try and talk the Aussie dollar exchange rate down again. It has only worked for a brief period recently, so maybe he won’t bother.