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Sydney, Oct 20, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street hit new highs for the year over optimism of the corporate earnings. The rise was led by Caterpillar as a broker said the company was among the best-positioned companies to benefit from improving global growth and spending on construction, infrastructure and commodities.

The Australian share market today delivered a strong openning after US market rally and rises in base and precious metals prices. Yesterday the local market closed lower, weighed down by a sell-off of financial stocks sparked by disappointing US corporate results. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.9 per cent, at 4792.8, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 40.8 points, or 0.84 per cent, to 4801.8.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Reserve Bank assistant governor Philip Lowe says that most home buyers understood that the setting of monetary policy over last year was unusual, so it won't cause them any difficulty as they have factored that in to their budget considerations. He also said the exchange rate would be higher than it had been over the past couple of decades.

In economic news today, the Reserve Bank of Australia will release the minutes of its October 6 monthly board meeting. The Australian Bureau of Statistic releases international merchandise imports data for September.

M&A News

SBS has agreed to buy out Kerry Stokes' and APN News & Media's (ASX:APN) Australian Radio Network from their 14-year-old pay television venture, PAN TV.

Energy Developments (ASX:ENE) has rejected a A$415million takeover offer from private equity group Pacific Equity Partners, claiming it undervalues the company.

The company also revealed that it ended talks with an international infrastructure-specialist fund manager, which had offered to buy the group's landfill gas-power generation interests in France and Britain, after terms couldn't be agreed.

Important Corporate News

Gambling conglomerate Tabcorp Holdings (ASX:TAH) said sales grew by 4.4per cent in the three months ended September 30. Tabcorp expected conditions to remain challenging for the remainder of the year, with the economy in the early stages of a recovery, intensifying competition in the wagering market and a ramp up in construction activity at Star City.

Oil Search (ASX:OSH) has terminated the sale of a 3.5 per cent stake in the US$15 billion Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project to Abu Dhabi's IPIC. Oil Search will now source A$895 million from a capital raising that will dilute the value of its shares. It said the deal wouldn't be able to be completed to meet Exxon Mobil's (NYSE:XOM) preferred target date, partly because the Australian Securities Exchange said shareholder approval would need to be sought for the deal to proceed.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has given a conditional green light to an Asciano-led joint venture handling motor vehicles and general cargo at terminals at five Australian ports. The AAT joint venture is owned by Asciano (ASX:AIO) and an alliance of the Chris Corrigan-backed Kaplan Funds Management and Dubai-based DP World. The conditions to impose on the joint venture include a mechanism that ensures other stevedores can access AAT's terminals and a dispute resolution process.

Bell Financial Group's (ASX:BFG) profits surged 52 per cent in the nine months to September this year, benefited from a large number of companies going out to raise capital, either for new investments or to repair balance sheets. Bell Financial said it also benefited from increases in daily trading activity.

Woolworths (ASX:WOW) today reported a 7.4 per cent rise in its first quarter sales to A$13.4 billion, excluding the impact of Petrol sales. Total sales was up 4.2 per cent. Woolworths' Chief Executive Michael Luscombe said consumer confidence levels and therefore spending are very difficult to predict for the FY10. The company maintain its sales outlook for the full year of a upper single digit growth.

Ear implants company Cochlear (ASX:COH) says its business outlook is positive going into 2009/10. The company's Nucleus 5 and BP100 devices, which were launched in its first quarter in Europe and the US, had received very positive market reaction. The new products will support growth for fiscal year 2010, with growth biased towards the second half.


Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344

Related Companies

Woolworths Limited         
Tabcorp Holdings Limited          
Oil Search Limited        
Exxon Mobil Corporation       
Energy Developments Limited        
Cochlear Limited        
Bell Financial Group Ltd       
Asciano Group          
Apn News & Media Limited        

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