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Unexpected Good Data
Sydney, Mar 26, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street closed higher on Wednesday with a late rally after government figures showed that new home sales and orders for US-made durable goods rose unexpectedly.

Yesterday the Australian share market extended its gains despite a weak lead from Wall Street. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose 0.8%, or 29.3 points, at 3609.3, while the broader All Ordinaries added 0.8%, or 28.9 points, at 3546.2.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) says the big cuts to interest rates have helped improve housing affordability. Anthony Richards, the head of the RBA's economic analysis department, also said that borrowers need to consider whether they would be able to continue servicing their loans once the mortgage rates return to higher levels.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens said there was growing pressure to reform the nation's EFTPOS, cheque and direct entry payments system because Australia was falling behind in providing the types of services available in other countries. RBA may consider taking an interventionist role in payments system reform.

Today the RBA will release its Financial Stability Review.

M&A News

Chinalco's has obtained the approval from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over the China state-owned company's A$30 billion bid to purchase a stake in Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO). The competition watchdog believes the deal will not result in a "substantial lessening" in competition.

Important Corporate News

Global logistics firm Brambles (ASX:BXB) confirmed that its CHEP wooden pallet pooling business has lost a contract with branches of PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP), which will exclusively use plastic pallets supplied by a competitor from next month.

ANZ (ASX:ANZ) said the bank would apply for regulatory approval this year to establish a 100 per cent-owned locally incorporated bank subsidiary in China. It would also expand its existing network of two foreign bank branches and a representative office in China by opening more than 20 outlets by 2012, following local incorporation.

BlueScope steel (ASX:BSL) is expected to attempt a further capital raising due to a slump in steel prices, according to analysts.

Transfield Services Ltd (ASX:TSE) has appointed Mr Peter Goode as managing director and chief executive officer, commencing Mar. 30.

Diversified investment company Washington H Soul Pattinson and Company Ltd (ASX:SOL) today posted a net profit of A$939.99 million in the six months ended January 31, up from A$45.41 million for the corresponding period last year.

Brick and tile producer Brickworks Ltd (ASX:BKW) said its first-half net profit increased six-fold after the sale of an Indonesian mine by coal miner New Hope (ASX:NHC), in which the company has a stake. Net profit increased to A$255.3 million for the six months to January 31, up from A$40.3 million in previous corresponding period.

Qantas Airways (ASX:QAN) confirmed it would slash 90 senior managers to cut costs. The 20 per cent cut in its management team is in response to the global revenue declines in airlines.

IBA Health Group Limited (ASX:IBA)(PINK:IBATF) Australia's largest listed health information technology company today announced an important step in its strategy for growth in Latin America with a fourth contract for iSOFT in Mexico and its first in Honduras. In a contract with the Honduras government, iSOFT will develop and implement a system that will provide a central register of information for government departments to manage health services and improve preventative measures.

Contact

Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344
Email: michelle.liang@abnnewswire.net


Related Companies

Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company Limited        
Rio Tinto Limited          
Qantas Airways Limited         
PepsiCo, Inc.      
New Hope Corporation Limited          
iSOFT Group Limited             
Broadspectrum Ltd        
Brickworks Limited        
Brambles Limited         
Bluescope Steel Limited        
Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation        
Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO)        

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