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Sydney, Aug 3, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street ended the last trading session of July with a positive note on Friday. The Dow increased 0.86% for the week and 8.58% for the month thanks for the better-than-expected earnings reports. The US government reported on Friday that gross domestic product declined by 1% in the second quarter, while economists had expected that number to be around 1.5%. The result gave investors stronger confidence that the worst recession since the Great Depression is likely coming to an end.

The Australia shares also finished higher on Friday. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 53.6 points, or 1.28 per cent, to 4244 points. The broader All Ordinaries index also advanced 53.6 points, or 1.28 per cent, at 4249.5. The market has risen for five consecutive months.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Reserve Bank board is to hold a board meeting on Tuesday to discuss its official interest rate. Economists anticipate that the central bank is likely to keep interest rates on hold the fourth consecutive month at 3 per cent with growing evidence the worst of the global recession is over.

The Australian Industry Group/PriceWaterhouseCoopers Performance of Manufacturing Index (PMI) rose 6.1 points to 44.5 in July from June. That was the highest reading since September, but still below the 50 threshold separating growth from contraction. The index remains under the 50 point since May of 2008.

M&A News

ANZ Bank (ASX:ANZ) is likely to pay up to A$1.1 billion for selected Royal Bank of Scotland (LON:RBS) assets in Asia. The deal is expected to see ANZ to purchase RBS branches in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. However, negotiations were reported to have slowed down in Hong Kong over the weekend. Discussions with RBS regarding selected Asian assets are continuing and are progressing well, an ANZ spokeswoman said.

Computershare (ASX:CPU) has acquired the transfer agency business of National City Bank of Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Computershare paid US$16.2 million cash for it and may pay more depending on the amount of revenue generated over the next year. The acquisition will have an immediate positive impact on earnings per share.

Important Corporate News

Westpac (ASX:WBC) and its St George banking brand said it would reduce fees across credit cards and personal and business accounts to A$9 from current levels of A$35-A$45, after National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX:NAB) last week abolished its A$30 overdrawn account fee on its personal savings accounts and personal transaction accounts. The move may take a A$210 million hit on its cash earnings in fiscal 2010, the Westpac said on Monday.

Sino Gold Mining Ltd. (ASX:SGX) said Monday it has formed a new exploration joint venture covering ground immediately north of its White Mountain mine in Jilin Province in China. The company will initially acquire a 75% stake in the joint venture from partner Jilin Nonferrous Metals Brigade 602 for total payments of US$2.25 million over three years, and will have the option to later up its stake to 95%.

Argo Investments Ltd (ASX:ARG) has reported a net loss of A$64.4 million for the 12 months to June 30 compared with a profit of A$294.1 million in the prior corresponding period. The outcome was hit by an unrealised impairment because of the share market slump.

Woolworths Ltd (ASX:WOW) said the supermarket chain plans to enter the telecommunications market, offering a no-frills mobile phone service. Under the plans, Woolworths will partner with Optus in a pre-paid service that offers a flat rate for voice calls of 15 cents flagfall and 15 cents for every 30 seconds of conversation.

GrainCorp (ASX:GNC) said it expects a net profit for the year ending September 30 between A$53 million and A$63 million, up from earlier guidance of a result between A$37 million and A$42 million. The key drivers of its fiscal 2009 profit include higher than expected grain receivals, higher than expected export tonnage and higher than budgeted export sales.


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

Related Companies

Woolworths Limited         
Westpac Banking Corp        
Sino Gold Limited       
Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc        
National Australia Bank Limited         
GrainCorp Limited        
Computershare Limited             
Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation        
Argo Investments Limited        

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