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Distributed: April 20, 2010

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Sydney, April 20, 2010 (ABN Newswire) - The Australian stock market has opened stronger led by financial shares, as Wall Street rebounded after investors reassessed the potential effects of the fraud case against Goldman Sachs. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index and the broader All Ordinaries index both were up 0.5 per cent in early trade.

Yesterday China stocks posted their biggest fall of the year and dragged the Asian markets lower. The Shanghai Composite index lost 4.8 per cent on jitters after the government measures to cool China's property market. Japan's main index fell 1.7 per cent, while Hong Kong's fell 2.1 per cent. The Australian market dropped 1.4 per cent.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Today the Reserve Bank of Australia releases its monetary policy meeting minutes with insights into the economic conditions that influenced their recent interest rate decision.

Company News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) decided to oppose National Australia Bank's (ASX:NAB) A$14 billion takeover for insurer and wealth manager AXA Asia Pacific Holdings (ASX:AXA), citing the merger between two companies would remove competitive tension and result in a substantial lessening of competition in the market for retail investment platforms for investors with complex investment needs. But the competition watchdog also said it will not oppose AMP Limited's (ASX:AMP) acquisition proposal. ACCC chairman Graeme Samuel said it now as up to NAB to approach the ACCC with a fresh proposal. AXA today delivered a strong performance in its first quarter with sales in Asia particularly strong.

Watpac's (ASX:WTP) Civil & Mining division has been awarded two major construction and services contracts by BC Iron (ASX:BCI) totalling in excess of A$300 million for the WA iron ore company's Nullagine 50:50 iron ore joint venture with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd (ASX:FMG). The contracts include the mining, crushing, and screening activities at site, and the haul road construction project.

Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX:NCM) today said it had received a "very positive and supportive" response to its revised merger proposal with Lihir Gold Ltd (ASX:LHG) after canvassing market views and consulting Newcrest shareholders, many of whom were also Lihir shareholders. Newcrest indicated that it was prepared to change the offer details. Newcrest also expects to access to a new data room created by Lihir to assist potential takeover suitors. If the takeover deal goes ahead the merged entity would have become the world's fourth largest gold company.

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

  Related Companies

>>>         AMP Limited
>>>         AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Limited
>>>            BC Iron Limited
>>>           Fortescue Metals Group Ltd
>>>          Lihir Gold Limited
>>>          National Australia Bank Limited
>>>         Newcrest Mining Limited
>>>         Watpac Limited

  Related Industry Topics:

Metals | Insurance | Financial General | Retail & Merchant Banking | Mining | Building & Construction | Australian Economy | 

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