Sydney, Dec 1, 2008 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street surged for a fifth consecutive session on last Friday, as investors looked for clues about whether dire predictions for the holiday shopping season would prove accurate.

On Friday, the Australian share market benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closd 154.5 points, or 4.3% higher, to 3742.5, while the broader All Ordinaries jumped 144.5 points, or 4.1%, to 3,672.7. The market experienced a best week for the two indexes since the recent two months, delivering weekly gains of 9.5% and 8.4%, respectively. However, the weak economic data and profit outlook would send the local market lower despite the strong lead from overseas markets. The news about RBA's expected aggressive rate cut will dominate the market this week.

The Australian dollar opened weaker as the biggest drop in European inflation on record boosted the US currency. At 0700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was trading at $US0.6531/38, down from Friday's close of $US0.6561/65.

World oil prices were mixed on Friday amid signs the OPEC producers' group would wait until next month before announcing any decision to cut output. Light sweet crude for delivery in January fell one US cent to $US54.43 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to again cut the official interest rate, this time by at least 0.75 of a percentage point. And the latest national accounts report is tipped to show the Australian economy slowed further in the September quarter.

The annual 333 Performance Management Australian Corporate Health Index released yesterday shows that one company in five is exhibiting symptoms of bankruptcy, questioning Australian companies' capacity to survive recession. A 73 per cent figure for declining health means there is a huge number of failures in the pipeline unless they act quickly.

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics business indicators for the September quarter. The Reserve Bank of Australia commodity price index for November, and the TD Securities-Melbourne Institute inflation gauge for November are to release. The Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Performance of Manufacturing Index for November also is due.

M&A News

Insurance Australia Group(ASX:IAG) will increase its interest in its Malaysian joint venture, AmAssurance, to 49 per cent from 30 per cent. As part of the move, IAG will also sell its 30 per cent stake in AmAssurance's life insurance business. The group's overall investment in Malaysia is to increase by around A$20 million.

MYOB Ltd(ASX:MYO) is releasing its target's statement, recommending shareholders reject the Manhattan Software Bidco Pty Ltd conditional takeover offer because it is inadequate and undervalues MYOB's existing business and future prospects. The independent expert appointed by MYOB has valued the shares in the range of A$1.16 to A$1.29.

Important Corporate News

Seven Network(ASX:SEV) has defended its lead in TV ratings this year helped by the Beijing Olympics and other big sporting events. Of the three commercial networks, Seven garnered 38.3 per cent of prime time viewers, but analysts forcast Seven's TV earnings would fall next year on falling ad demand and higher costs.

Babcock & Brown's(ASX:BNB) 25-strong banking syndicate, including the big four Australian banks, indicated yesterday that they were prepared to support the revised proposal, with up to A$200 million will be injected into the group, giving it time to push ahead with its planned asset sales.

Qantas(ASX:QAN) forecast a pre-tax profit of about A$500 million for 2008-09, down from A$1.4 billion the year before. According to the airline, it will cut capacity equivalent to the grounding of 10 aircraft.

Great Southern Ltd(ASX:GTP) reported a net loss of A$64.32 million for the year to September 30 2008, compared with a profit of A$71.51m in 2007. Revenue was down 15.4pc to A$444.37m.

1. Related Stocks - Mid Market (AEST 1230)
----------------------------------------------------Code   % Change   Volume     Turnover  Low     High----------------------------------------------------ASX:IAG  -3.27   2,101,499   $7,545,490   353   365ASX:QAN  -1.29   1,660,216   $3,797,975   228   232ASX:SEV  +2.94   291,509     $1,581,352   519   569ASX:GTP  +2.63   715,275     $141,382     19    20ASX:MYO  +2.6    10,729      $10,544      96    100
2. Top 10 ASX on Turnover - Mid Market (AEST 1230)
----------------------------------------------------Code   % Change   Volume     Turnover  Low     High----------------------------------------------------ASX:BHP  -3.35   6,797,979   $203,953,418 2953  3070ASX:RIO  -4.89   2,368,815   $115,225,729 4352  4587ASX:WBC  -3.4    4,729,655   $82,075,572  1710  1747ASX:CBA  -1.9    1,662,741   $56,133,312  3305  3430ASX:ANZ  -1.55   2,972,828   $43,492,435  1425  1480ASX:NAB  -2.5    2,076,873   $41,251,205  1921  2000ASX:FMG  +34.95  15,407,534  $39,175,549  210   293ASX:TLS          9,441,912   $38,842,399  402   411ASX:WDC  -1.26   1,895,863   $27,946,622  1463  1494ASX:QBE  -2.06   1,131,088   $26,236,574  2252  2382


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

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