Look to Improved Earnings Guidance
Look to Improved Earnings Guidance

Sydney, April 9, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - US stocks ended modestly higher overnight amid optimism over retailers' improved sales, halting the two days decline. Investors were prepared for a tough reporting season and awaiting favorable earnings guidance for the rest of the year to change the market sentiment.

Australian shares closed lowered yesterday as investors expected a further fall on US market. The S&P/ASX 200 fell 86.8 points, or 2.3 per cent, to 3619.5, while the All Ordinaries was down 81 points, or 2.22 per cent at 3567.5. The financial stocks may be hit by International Monetary Fund's forecast of increasing toxic assets.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said Australia's housing finance commitments for owner-occupied housing rose seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent in February, well below economists' expectation of a 2 per cent surge. The number of loans to buy a new home rose 4.2 per cent, as first home buyers continued to dominate the market rise, while number of property investors fell.

M&A News

Forestry group Great Southern (ASX:GTP) said one potential buyer is conducting due diligence for a major stake to acquire its cattle assets. AS part of its corporate restructure, the company is selling 27 encumbered properties in southeastern Queensland in a move to raise about A$29 million. Great Southern expects to book a net loss of up to A$130 million for the first half.

Maintenance and catering giant Spotless Group (ASX:SPT) said it had struck a deal to buy family owned cleaning services group Arrix, one of the biggest players in the WA market with turnover of more than A$20 million.

Important Corporate News

Origin Energy (ASX:ORG) said its gas export project with US oil giant ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) could be worth A$35 billion and may create up to 5000 jobs. The joint venture of the two companies plans to build a liquefied natural gas plant in Queensland.

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) has awarded a A$500 million railway construction contract to Macmahon Holdings (ASX:MAH) and Leighton Contractors. The company is proceeding with a $US4.8 billion expansion of its Pilbara iron ore operations.

Consolidated Media Holdings (ASX:CMJ) has slashed the size of its board from twelve directors to seven, with the remaining non-executive directors taking a pay cut.

ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ), Westpac (ASX:WBC), St George Bank and Suncorp Metway (ASX:SUN) announced they would cut 10 basis points from their standard mortgage rates after the RBA reduced the official rate by 25 basis points.

Bank of Queensland (ASX:BOQ) has cut its first-half dividend after the company reported a net profit for the six months ended Feb. 28 fell 25 per cent to A$46.3 million from A$61.7 million a year earlier.


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

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