Sydney, Oct 14, 2008 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Yesterday Australian shares rallied to their biggest one-day gain since October 1997. Confidence in Australian banks was buoyed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's announcement that all deposits in Australian financial institutions would be guaranteed for three years. Analysts said last week the market probably hit the bottom when investors were in the depths of fear and panic, but recovery may cost a long time. Despite the short-term buoyancy, the Australian market remains fearful of deeper plunges, especially if the powerful US market continues to falter.

Overnight Wall Street skyrocketed more than 11% after US and European governments outlined coordinated efforts to take stakes in troubled banks and stabilise the global financial system through unlimited injections of cash to the sector.

At 6.59am, the December Share Price Index futures contract on the Sydney Futures Exchange was up 306 points at 4500.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 220 points, or 5.55%, at 4180.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index rose 202.4 points, or 5.14%, to 4141.9.

Today the Australian dollar opened 2.78 US cents stronger as global attempts to guarantee banking systems lifted investor confidence to buy shares and high-yielding currencies. At 0700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was trading at $US0.6949/56, up from Monday's close of $US0.6672/77.

Oil prices rallied on Monday, lifted by a burst of optimism after world leaders formed a united front to tackle the global financial crisis. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, leapt $US3.49 to close at $US81.19 a barrel, recovering from one-year lows hit Friday.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

Ads for jobs in major newspapers and on the internet fell by 1.4 per cent to a weekly average of 245,734 ads per week, the latest ANZ survey found. Job ads during September fell in Australia for the fifth straight month with fewer staff being hired in a slowing economy. This was after falling 4.9 per cent in August, its worst monthly fall since February 2001.

The Reserve Bank is set to slash interest rates by 1.5 percentage points in the next seven weeks, financial markets believe, as further signs emerge of the malaise affecting the Australian economy. If the Reserve were to cut rates as expected, it would make for a cumulative reduction of 2.75 percentage points in just four months.

In economic news today, National Australia Bank releases its monthly business survey for September.

M&A News

West Australian mining identity Michael Kiernan's investment vehicle, Crawley Investments, along with his son Laurence Kiernan, declared yesterday a 7.2 percent stake in small copper miner Redbank Mines(ASX:RBM). Meanwhile, shareholders in Sydney-based Alexander Securities will vote on Thursday on the appointment of Mr Kiernan and his son to the board.

Stockland(ASX: SGP) has picked up 14.4% strategic stake in retirement village company Aevum(ASX:AVE) from Babcock & Brown(ASX:BNB). Stockland announced yesterday that it had acquired the stake in Aevum for A$1.50 a share, or A$26.9million. Stockland said the acquisition was consistent with the company's strategy to increase its presence in the retirement living sector.

Mikoh Corporation(ASX:MIK) announced a definitive agreement to acquire the assets and goodwill of Global Integrity Pty Ltd, a leading RFID technology and consulting firm based in Melbourne, Australia.

Important Corporate News

Origin Energy(ASX:ORG) will share an almost A$800 million foreign exchange windfall caused by the slumping Australian dollar. The value of the Australia dollar has plunged since Origin signed a coal seam gas joint venture with US energy giant ConocoPhillips(NYSE:COP) in September, making the value of the $US5 billion up-front payment by ConocoPhillips worth an extra A$784 million. But Origin says both companies will share the cost of hedging the Australian dollar.

Diversified conglomerate Wesfarmers Ltd. (ASX:WES) said Tuesday it's confident it can refinance a number of debt facilities due over the next 12 months, despite the global credit squeeze. The company said it was also "well progressed" in refinancing another A$1 billion relating to its acquisition Coles - the country's second-largest supermarket chain.


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

Related Companies

Wesfarmers Limited        
Redbank Mines     
Origin Energy Limited             
Mikoh Corporation Limited       
Babcock & Brown Limited        
Aevum Limited        

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