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Australian Market Report
Australian Market Report
Sydney, Feb 13, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Overnight the US stocks rebounded from an early sell-off and closed slightly higher as the US government is mulling direct assistance to homebuyers who are facing mortgage foreclosures.

Yesterday the Aussie market ended higher amid expectations debt-laden Rio Tinto would announce the A$30 billion deal with Chinese steelmaker Chinalco. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 39.9 points, or 1.15 per cent, at 3,514.3, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 40.4 points, or 1.18 per cent, to 3,458.5. Today investors will also be looking to the proceeding of government's A$42 billion economic stimulus package as Parliament will debate a new version after the Senate rejected the government's first proposed plan.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Figure from ABS shows that Australia's unemployment rate has soared to 4.8 per cent in January, its highest level since mid-2006. ABS also said total employment rose by 1200 in January, a much better result than market expectations for a fall of 18,000. Economists expect the jobless rate continue rising this year.

M&A News

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) unveiled the $US 19.5 billion (A$30 billion) deal with Chinalco yesterday and said this would be the best solution to the miner's debt woes. The deal will eventually hand control of 18 per cent of Rio to the Chinalco. The deal will still need the approval of both Australian and Chinese regulators. BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) is lobbying the Australian government in an effort to halt Chinese interests taking a 15 percent stake in rival Rio Tinto's West Australian iron ore project, Hamersley Iron.

Jameson Resources Limited (ASX:JAL) said that it had completed its due diligence in relation to an option to acquire 100% of the development rights in the Basin Thermal Coal Mine in British Columbia, Canada, from Compliance Energy Corporation (CVE:CEC). The Basin Coal Mine has an existing NI430-101 resource of 19 million tonnes of raw thermal coal.

Important Corporate News

Leighton Holdings (ASX:LEI) said its first-half net profit fell 56 per cent as it wrote down A$239 million on its infrastructure investments. Net profit for the six months to December 31 fell to A$111.1 million from A$250 million the year before. The company expects to maintain last year's final dividend level of 85 cents a share.

Financial services provider AMP (ASX:AMP) said it expects an annual underlying profit of about A$800 million in 2008, compared to A$882 million in the 2007 financial year. AMP said the result was in line with market expectations.

Paper manufacturer PaperlinX (ASX:PPX) yesterday warned of a 40 percent drop in net profit for the December half. PaperlinX also advised it is yet to sell its European properties and is now in breach of its debt covenants.

Banking and insurance group Suncorp Metway (ASX:SUN) has received thousands of claims related to the recent bushfires in Victoria and floods in Queensland. The company says the combined cost of claims is expected to be around A$180 million.

Nylex (ASX:NLX) has been placed in receivership and its shares suspended. Nylex owes ANZ (ASX:ANZ) and Westpac (ASX:WBC) more than A$60 million. Nylex's bankers called in McGrathNicol as receivers and managers of Nylex.


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

Related Companies

Westpac Banking Corp        
Suncorp Group Limited         
Rio Tinto Limited          
PaperlinX Limited       
Nylex Limited        
Jameson Resources Limited             
Compliance Energy Corp.        
Cimic Group Ltd          
BHP Billiton Limited          
Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation        
AMP Limited        
Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO)        

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