The Australian share market closed firmer on Friday led by financial stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 47.8 points, or 1.24 per cent, to 3903.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index advanced 48 points, or 1.25 per cent, to 3899.5 points. Trading volume is expected to remain at a low level before the reporting season.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
Analysts expect Australian companies earnings per share will fall by 22 per cent for the full 2008-09 financial year, just short of the 26.2 per cent drop in EPS at the height of the 1991 recession. UBS chief equities strategist David Cassidy has tipped a massive 29.9 per cent fall in EPS compared with the same period last year for the six months to June 30.
Indophil Resources (ASX:IRN) said a number of parties are interested in the sale by Indophil of 34.23 per cent of its stake in the copper-gold Tampakan project in The Philippines. The company said the interested parties were "at the big end of town".
Wesfarmers Ltd (ASX:WES), owner of supermarket Coles, says it will sell 45 of its supermarkets and eight Liqourland stores to independent grocery group FoodWorks for A$35 million. Coles said the sale of the supermarkets will reduce overlap and free up funds for investment in its network of 718 remaining supermarkets and 623 Liquorland outlets.
Important Corporate News
Toll Holdings (ASX:TOL) has entered into a A$180 million three-year agreement with Chevron Australia to manage logistical services on the Gorgon gas project on Barrow Island off Western Australia. Toll's work will begin after the project receives all necessary government approvals and the final investment decision by the joint venture partners, expected in the second half of this year.
Furniture and electrical goods retailer Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) has reported a better-than-expected response in its winter clearance in a further signs of recovery in the retail sector. Executive Chairman Gerry Harvey said sales were strong "right across the board".
PaperlinX (ASX:PPX) has completed the initial review of its Tasmanian paper manufacturing business, Tas Paper. CEO of PaperlinX, Tom Park said the review projected an unacceptable financial loss for Tas Paper in the current environment and will work with all key shareholders to develop models that may produce more positive future outcomes.
Virgin Blue (ASX:VBA) has released its preliminary operating statistics saying its domestic passenger numbers and international passenger numbers for the 11 months to May 2009 respectively increased by 5.1% and 68.6% from the previous year.
Orchard Property Ltd has proposed to recapitalise and restructure its publicly listed Orchard Industrial Property Fund (ASX:OIF) by placing securities with South African property group Growthpoint. Orchard said it would make a A$55.6 million placement of OIF units to Growthpoint, and internalise the fund's management.
Gunns Ltd (ASX:GNS) has found a potential joint-venture partner for its A$2.2 billion Tasmanian pulp mill. Gunns said the company involved has significant international experience in the pulp and paper sector. The Tasmanian timber company has continued to progress negotiations with project finance banks, with market conditions in the sector having recently improved.
Virgin Blue Holdings Limited
Toll Holdings Limited
Orchard Industrial Property Fund
Indophil Resources Nl
Harvey Norman Holdings Limited