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Distributed: July 30, 2009

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Sydney, July 30, 2009 (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street ended modestly lower overnight after the Shanghai stock market slumped 5 per cent, a biggest single day decline of the year in China. The US stocks were also hit by the Commerce Department data that new orders for US manufactured durable goods fell 2.5 per cent in June.

Yesterday the Australian shares ended their winning sessions. The market closed slightly lower dragged by mining stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 26.7 points, or 0.6 per cent, at 4142.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index al fell 0.6 per cent, at 4148.9. Analysts expected a profit taking day on Thursday after the fall in commodities prices and negative lead from overseas markets.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Australia's property market shows a healthy turnaround in the first half of 2009 as new home sales rose 0.5 per cent in June, following a 5.7 per cent fall in May. Total new home sales have advanced 13 per cent in the six months to June from the same period in 2008, according to the Housing Industry Association. The rise was largely due to the increased first-home buyer grant and RBA rate cut.

Australian Property Monitors said national house prices gained 3.3 per cent in the June quarter, the strongest quarterly growth since the global financial crisis began withering asset values. The data revealing a recovery in housing market comes after Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens warned of a housing price bubble risk in Australia.

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases building approvals data for June.

M&A News

Bendigo Mining Ltd (ASX:BDG) has declared itself an interested party in Lihir Gold's (ASX:LGL) planned sale of its failed Ballarat gold project. Bendigo Mining unveiled that this month it has completed the acquisition of the Henty gold mine, located on the west coast of Tasmania, from AurionGold Ltd, a subsidiary of Barrick (PD) Australia Ltd. Bendigo Mining yesterday said its gold production increased by 33% to 13,122 ozs in the June quarter.

Dioro Exploration (ASX:CAN) yesterday advised shareholders to accept Avoca's (ASX:AVO) sweetened scrip offer of one Avoca share for every 2.3 Dioro shares. The offer values the target at 74.6c a share, or about $68.3 million, based on the closing price of Avoca shares on Tuesday of A$1.715.

Important Corporate News

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) has settled contract prices for 23 per cent of its volumes at benchmark prices as the mining giant has agreed with unnamed customers to take a 33 to 44 per cent price cut for contracted iron ore shipments. A further 30 per cent of iron ore volumes will be sold on a mix of quarterly negotiated pricing, spot prices and index-based pricing. But the remaining 47 per cent are still being negotiated.

Coal & Allied (ASX:CAN) has posted a 65.9 per cent rise in first-half profit, after foreign exchange benefits offset lower sales volumes and boosted its revenue. Net profit for the six months ending June 30 jumped to a$323.6 million, from A$195.1m in the previous corresponding period.

Intrepid Mines Ltd (ASX:IAU) posted a net profit of A$5.06 million for the half year to June 30 2009 compared with a loss of A$6.1m in the prior corresponding half. No dividend has been declared.

Lihir Gold Ltd (ASX:LGL) said its production in the June quarter was the third highest on record for the company at 294,000 ounces. The company also achieved record production of 612,000 ounces in the first half of 2009 and expects the figure at 1.0-1.2 million ounces for the full 2009 year.

Australia's third biggest telco AAPT has struck a A$500 million deal with Telstra (ASX:TLS) that will extend their 18-year commercial relationship for 12 months. The agreement relates to a broad range of products and services Wholesale Line Rental, Local Carriage Service and PSTN Originating Terminating Access.

Elders Rural Bank, a joint venture between Elders (ASX:ELD) and Bendigo and Adelaide Bank (ASX:BEN), has posted a 10 per cent rise in annual profit. Net profit for the year ended June 30 was A$45.1 million, up from A$41.1 million in the previous financial year.

Investment company Milton Corp. (ASX:MLT) has reported a net profit of A$50 million for the year to June 30 2009, a decline of 59 per cent compared with financial year 2008.

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

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