Markets Live: Final rush of earnings

John Borghetti offloads a stake in Virgin’s frequent flyer program. 9:06am: Local shares are set to open lower on the back of a soft lead from overseas markets as geopolitics rears its ugly head, while iron ore continued its downward slide, falling for the ninth-straight day. • AUD at 93. 56 US cents, 97. 00 Japanese yen, 70. 97 Euro cents and 56. • On Wall St, S&P 500 -0. 2%, Dow -0. 2%, Nasdaq -0. • In Europe, Euro Stoxx 50 -0. 9%, FTSE -0. 4%, CAC -0. 7%, DAX -1. • Iron ore falls 1% to $US87. • Brent oil down 0. 2% at $US102. • Earnings from Woolworths, Harvey Norman, Peet, Perseus Mining, Transfield Services, Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia. • The following stocks will trade ex-dividend today: Aurizon, Carlton Investments, Challenger Ltd, SAI Global, Wesfarmers. • Corporate Travel Mgt cut to hold vs buy at Bell Potter with price target $7. 80. • Hartleys Research has retained a “buy” on MACA Ltd after the mining services company reported solid 2014 results. • Commonwealth Bank retained an “overweight” recommendation on Horizon Oil and revised its price target to 50¢ a share from 55¢ a share after it reported and gave details on Stanley drilling results. • Macquarie Research is maintaining an “outperform” on Horizon Oil and now has a 55¢ a share 12-month price target. • RBC Capital Markets has raised Whitehaven Coal to “sector perform” and increased its price target to $2 a share from $1. 50 a share. • RBC Capital Markets has downgraded earnings estimates on Drillsearch, but kept an “outperform” and “speculative risk” call on the stock with a $2 a share price target. 9:06am: Good morning and welcome to the Markets Live blog for Friday.

Violence surged a day after Putin and Poroshenko met in Minsk, Belarus. “These geopolitical events tend to be transitory, where the market may drop over the short-term but then tends to recover pretty quickly,” Bob Landry, executive director and portfolio manager at San Antonio-based USAA Investment Management Co, said. 9:13am: Virgin has unveiled the surprise sale of a 35 per cent stake in its Velocity frequent flyer program to a private equity group after reporting a full-year underlying loss of $211. 7 million in line with market expectations.

Read more here: SMH


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