How a diverse bag of news will interact on markets this week is anyone's guess, and a Reserve Bank cut can't be ruled out.

Modest gains were the order of the day on Wall Street on Friday night, reflecting a better-than-expected ISM result. This is a good survey, well-respected, and it suggests the manufacturing sector accelerated in February to 54.2 from 53.1 and an expectation of 52.5. Also helping, I guess, was a lift in consumer confidence to 77.6 from 76.3 and further reassurance from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that there was no way he was about to ease off policy stimulus – although he did try to reassure people that rates wouldn’t remain low forever. And thus the S&P500, Dow and Nasdaq were 0.2-0.3 per cent higher – our own SPI was down about 5 points to 5069.


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