Telstra CEO Thodey to be replaced on 1 May, US equities flat, Europe higher, oil a touch lower, ASX futures up 5 points

Australian telecoms giant Telstra (TLS) is replacing its much-loved CEO David Thodey on May 1 with CFO Andy Penn. The surprise news comes with little detail, other than a template press release containing the usual Chair remarks of "Andy is a seasoned executive..." and "David has been an outstanding chief executive..." etc. Hard to say what the market will do with this news, there's no doubt Telstra has an excellent board of directors, one of whom I know and speaks incredibly highly of Chairperson Catherine Livingstone. The stock, shown in today's first chart from Thodey's appointment date in May 2009, has performed incredibly well and has become a true market darling under Thodey. Here you can see that, during his tenure, it has risen 96.73%, while at the same time the ASX 200 was up 56.9%. With an A$80 billion market capitalisation, it certainly has the potential to influence the mood of the Australian market this morning.

The US released crude inventory data last night and conflicting reports (a 7.7 million barrel rise from the Energy Information Administration and a 14.3 million barrel increase from the American Petroleum Institute) gave a confusing message to traders, who were already expecting a big surge in inventories, but not as high as the second figure. In the end, as today's second 5-minute chart shows, WTI crude recovered from a low of US$49.79 to be trading now at US$52.13.

Finally today's third chart shows gold stuck in a short-term down trend. There are certainly signs of buying support at US$1,200 and this may prove to be a level that attracts low-risk long set-ups with a break below US$1,200 likely to trigger stops and short-selling. US dollar spot gold has mostly been stuck in a range between US$1,200 and US$1,400 since May 2013, with the exception of a brief dip below in the fourth quarter of last year.

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Upcoming economic announcements: German and Eurozone PMI out tonight at 7:30pm & 8pm tonight, UK retail sales out at 8:30pm, all Sydney time.

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