Sydney, Aug 13, 2008 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Yesterday Wall Street finished lower after a volatile day's trade. The indices were hit overnight as more bad news from the major banks unveiled fresh losses.

Oil futures have taken its losses since April 15 to US$113.01 a barrel. There are perceptions that world supply and demand are coming closer into balance. Crude oil prices slid to a four-month low on Tuesday after Russia announced the end of military operations in Georgia and the International Energy Agency forecast a steep drop in demand. Oil prices are expected to average $119 a barrel this year, the US Energy Information Administration said.

The Australian share market closed higher on Tuesday. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 27.5 points to 5053.6, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 21 points to 5090.3.

At 6.49am, the Sydney Futures Exchange's September share price index futures contract was 33 points down to 4995.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

A housing snapshot released by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare today shows fewer people are finding places in public housing than two years ago. House prices and rents are sky high with public housing stock has fallen by 25,000 dwellings since the mid-1990s. There's more bad news for those struggling to find a place to live with the supply of public housing is plunging.

The NAB survey shows that the index of business conditions fell in July by five points to minus five points - the weakest reading since October 2001 - the survey of 415 private-sector firms found. Business conditions have weakened to the lowest level since the month after September 11 terror attacks, as firms battle tighter credit conditions and falling demand, a survey shows. NAB chief economist Alan Oster said the report showed the Australian economy was slowing faster than predicted.

The RBA quarterly monetary policy statement, released yesterday, predicted that economic growth in calendar 2008 would fall to 2 per cent, from its earlier prediction of 2.25 per cent. A top central banker said Australia's slowing economy is likely to lead to a rise in the current low levels of mortgage arrears, but Australian banking system remains highly profitable by international standards.

Releases today include the Westpac/Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment, the Australian Bureau of Statistics labour price index for the June quarter.

M&A News

Uranium miner Cameco (NYSE:CCJ)(TSE:CCO) has bought a 70 per cent stake in the Kintyre uranium project in Western Australia for $US346.5 million. Cameco has also secured the right to apply for an exploration licence for the Angela-Pamela uranium deposits with joint venture partner Paladin, 25km south of Alice Springs.

Golden West Resources Ltd. (ASX:GWR) said Tuesday it has struck an iron ore offtake agreement with Hunan Valin Steel Tube & Wire Co. Ltd. (SHE:000932), which is 33 per cent owned by ArcelorMittal (NYSE:MT), and that the Chinese group will also take part in a A$26.64 million share placement delivering it a 11.4% stake in the Australian firm. The funds raised will be put towards the development of Golden West's Wiluna West iron ore project in the midwest region of Western Australia.

Important Corporate News

Commonwealth Bank of Australia Ltd (ASX:CBA) has lifted its reported profit by seven per cent and says volatility in financial markets is putting pressure on its funding costs. Net profit for the year ended June 30 rose to A$4.791 billion while the bank's preferred measure of profitability, cash earnings, rose five per cent to A$4.733 billion.

Telstra Corp Ltd's (ASX:TLS) profit grew 13.3 per cent in the year to June 30, on a jump in mobile phone revenue as customers took up services with the Next G network. As Telstra forecast revenue growth of three to four per cent in fiscal 2009, it said it was on track to achieve its target of A$6 billion to A$7 billion in free cash flow in 2010.

CSL Ltd (ASX:CSL) has delivered a 30 per cent rise in full year profit and agreed to acquire Talecris Biotherapeutics Holdings Corp (NASDAQ:TLCR) for A$3.48 billion (US$3.043 billion). The biotechnology company also forecast an increase in earnings for the current financial year of between A$810 million and A$850 million.

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