Test Five-year Low Point
Test Five-year Low Point

Sydney, Feb 26, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Overnight Wall Street closed modestly lower after a rally of more than 3 per cent in previous day. The market was not boosted by President Obama's first address to Congress, as few new insights on government rescue plans were unveiled. The stocks plunged in early trading and rebounded in the afternoon with financial shares reversed their losses.

Australian share closed at their five-year low point. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 0.1%, or 4.1 points, at 3327.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index also fell 0.1%, or 3.5 points, at 3281.5.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released yesterday showed that the total volume of construction activity rose by a seasonally adjusted 1.7 per cent in the quarter.

ABS also said the wage cost index rose by 1.2 per cent in the quarter and by 4.3 per cent over the year. But economists say the wage data will be largely ignored by the Reserve Bank and expect an interest rate cut at RBA's next policy meeting.

Today the ABS will release private new capital expenditure and expected expenditure data for the December quarter, as well as average weekly earnings for the November quarter.

M&A News

Property developer Payce Consolidated (ASX:PAY) plans to sell 75 per cent of its stake in A$190 million worth of land in Sydney and Brisbane to Japan's Sekisui House (PINK:SKHSF).

Asciano (ASX:AIO) is expected to complete its asset sell-off by the end of the financial year. The company will announce a preferred bidder for its coal haulage business within the next week or two. The company was also in talks to sell other parts of its business.

Important Corporate News

Seek (ASX:SEK) has posted A$32.472 million profit for the first half of fiscal 2009, to December 31, on revenue up 9% to A$109.339 million. The online job company says overseas investments position the company well for long-term growth.

Agribusiness ABB Grain (ASX:ABB) booked an annual net profit of A$48.8 million for the year ended September 30, 2008. It forecasts an underlying net profit after tax of A$63 million to A$73 million for its 2008-09 fiscal year.

GrainCorp (ASX:GNC) had made a loss of net A$19.9 million in 2007-08 due to the drought, but expects to turnaround on the solid crop yield projections. The company is looking toward a net profit between A$23 million and A$28 million for 2008-09.

ConnectEast (ASX:CEU) delivered a A$92.59 million loss for the first half ended December 31, compared to a zero balance in the previous corresponding period. The toll road operator has cut its distribution to one cent per stapled unit.

Insurance Australia Group (ASX:IAG) posted a 96% fall in first-half profit after falling investment values. Its net profit for the six months ended December 31 was A$4 million, compared to A$110 million in the previous corresponding period.

Telstra (ASX:TLS) chief executive Sol Trujillo has resigned and will leave the telecom giant on June 30. Telstra has posted a first-half profit of A$1.9 billion, down 1 per cent from A$1.93 billion a year earlier.

Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) has completed a retail stock offering to small shareholders, increasing the total fund raising to a better-than-expected A$4.6 billion.

Seven Network (ASX:SEV) has confirmed that it had cut the value of its 47 per cent stake in the Seven Media Group from A$793.9 million to zero.

Lend Lease Corporation (ASX:LLC) has reported a loss of A$596.4 million for the first half ended December 31, compared to net profit of A$250.9 million in the prior corresponding period. The property developer warned that market will continue volatility for the foreseeable future.

Centro Properties Group (ASX:CNP) reported a A$2.4 billion first half loss after its net asset value declined to negative A$346 million.

Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) delivered a net loss for fiscal 2008 of A$2.19 billion, down from a profit of A$3.4 billion last year.

Pacific Brands (ASX:PBG) revealed yesterday that it would axe more than 1800 workers and move the work to southern China.

Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) has downgraded its annual earnings guidance after fall in energy prices. The company posted a rise in net profit to A$6.66 billion for the six months to December 31 from A$335 million a year earlier.

Boart Longyear's (ASX:BLY) profit during the 12 months to December 31 increased 93.2% on the previous corresponding period to A$156.7 million.


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

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