POLITICAL turmoil and the prospect of a hung parliament pushed the Australian dollar to its lowest level in more than a month against the greenback yesterday. Independent MPs have now become the kingmakers and the uncertainty as to whether they will lean more towards the Conservatives or Labour has weakened the Aussie dollar. Will the Aussie face the same struggle that sterling suffered back in May? City Index was offering a CFD price on Aussie dollar-US dollar of $0.8925-$0.8929.

There has been a veritable dearth of attractive opportunities in the CFD markets this summer so traders have been making the most of last week’s interest in BHP Billiton’s hostile bid for PotashCorp and KNOC’s desire to acquire Dana Petroleum. WorldSpreads offers a 1,853p-1,858p spread for BHP Billiton and a 1,798-1,807p spread for Dana Petroleum.

The recent weakness in the equity markets and fears of a return to recession has had a knock-on effect on crude oil, which slumped to seven-week lows of $73.15 yesterday. The technical outlook for crude is also quite bearish since it is trading below all major moving averages with no clear support until the $71 level. Spread Co offers a spread on October US crude of $73.21-$73.27.

Punch Taverns has traded in the 60p-100p range for the past 10 months but tomorrow’s trading update could push the share price, currently around the 80p level, out of its range. The pub group is expected to post positive results thanks to a boom during the World Cup – despite England’s poor showing. However, the firm’s outlook may be less rosy following a fall in consumer confidence – and therefore fewer pub visitors – since the emergency Budget in June. ShortsandLongs.com has a rolling Punch Taverns spread of 79p-79.6p.

Stricken publisher Johnston Press saw its shares recover slightly at the end of last year, pushing towards 50p, still a far cry from when it was trading above £4 in 2005. However, the stock fell to fresh 12-month lows of 12.75p last month and is still hovering around the 15p mark. Can tomorrow’s results spark any improvement? Spreadex has a September spread of 14.95p-15.49p.