Sydney, Oct 24, 2008 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street shares staged a spirited rebound overnight, as the turnaround was driven by the energy sector, which was reacting to higher oil prices.

During yesterday's trading, Australian stocks closed lower for the second consecutive day on Thursday, falling by more than 4%. The market was dragged down by big losses in the resources sector amid renewed fears of a global economic slowdown. The two days drop gave up all the gains early this week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 ended down 181.7 points, or 4.4%, at 3974.38, while the broader All Ordinaries lost 180.8 points, or 4.4%, to 3939.32.

In early trade today, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 1.1%, or 43.9 points, to 4018.3.
The Australian dollar opened weaker for the third successive day as a slide in crude oil prices to a 16-month low boosted the US currency but hurt high yielding currencies like the Aussie dollar. At 7am, the Australian dollar was trading at $US0.6656/60, down marginally from yesterday's close of US$0.6669/73.

Oil prices rebounded on Thursday as OPEC prepared to cut production to shore up prices that have sagged in the fallout of an escalating global financial crisis. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for December delivery, closed at US$67.84 per barrel, up US$0.94 from the close on Wednesday.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

According to figures released by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), international bank lending shrank by 3 per cent between April and June, the sharpest decline in more than 30 years, revealing the depth of the credit squeeze between lenders before the recent series of government-led bailouts. It shows that borrowers' total international claims declined by $US1.1 trillion to $US39.1 trillion.

The Housing Industry Association-Commonwealth Bank First Home Buyer Affordability Index for the September quarter showed an improvement of 3 per cent in the metropolitan area - the first increase since March 2007. The index showed affordability improved over the past quarter in Sydney (14 per cent), Melbourne (3.8 per cent) and Hobart (0.9 per cent), and declined in Perth (-7.6 per cent), Brisbane (-1.5 per cent) and Canberra (-12.9 per cent).

M&A News

Origin Energy's(ASX:ORG) A$10 billion sale of Queensland coal seam gas assets to ConocoPhillips(NYSE:COP) has been approved by Treasurer Wayne Swan and is now expected to be finalised next week.

The merger of Westpac(ASX:WBC) and St George bank(ASX:SGB) has been approved by the Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan. Strict condition will be imposed that Westpac is required to maintain the existing number of Westpac and St George branches and ATMs, including in non-urban areas.

Babcock & Brown(ASX:BNB) says that the company is considering at least six potential offers to inject much-needed capital into the troubled group from a range of investors including specialist fund managers, but any deal is unlikely to come to fruition before the new year.

Important Corporate News

Perpetual Investment Management(ASX:PPT), one of Australia's biggest mortgage fund managers, froze A$2 billion of investor funds as suffering from being excluded from government's deposit guarantee scheme. It said it had suspended applications and redemptions on its monthly income and mortgage funds after "a sharp increase in redemptions from mortgage funds across the industry".

CVC Asia Pacific is believed to be thinking about injecting more capital into PBL Media, a move that could reduce the 25% stake in the media group held by James Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings Ltd. (ASX:CMJ).

Santos Ltd(ASX:STO) increased its revenue 16% to A$730 million for the three months to September 30, 2008 compared with the same quarter last year. Santos says the outlook for the company remains positive after delivering a rise in revenue in the third quarter.

Metal recycler Sims(ASX:SGM) says its earnings rose sharply in the first quarter. Net profit rose 175 per cent to A$145.1 million in the three months ended September 30, from A$57.3 million in the same period last year.

1. Related Stocks - Mid Market
Code   % Change   Volume      Turnover     Low    High
ASX:ORG    +.63   1,084,673   $17,334,091  1580   1619
ASX:WBC    -.32   2,516,645   $53,816,602  2112   2186
ASX:SGB    +.67   253,922     $7,169,226   2784   2881
ASX:BNB    -8.91  3,112,969   $4,601,017   136.5  163
ASX:PPT    -9.85  61,781      $2,582,445   4038   4299
ASX:CMJ    +1.51  992,917     $2,021,148   194    208
ASX:STO    +.36   1,674,113   $19,242,002  1091   1151
ASX:SGM    -6.94  272,449     $4,357,111   1550   1700
2. Top 10 ASX on Turnover - Mid Market
Code   % Change   Volume      Turnover     Low    High
ASX:BHP   -.89    11,159,583  $275,675,504 2391   2464
ASX:ANZ   -.88    5,086,617   $91,485,964  1766   1850
ASX:RIO   -1.49   1,145,781   $76,639,344  6550   6725
ASX:NAB   -2.39   2,638,698   $66,917,862  2484   2607
ASX:CBA   -.82    1,366,431   $56,286,651  4076   4204
ASX:WBC   -.27    2,513,645   $53,752,372  2112   2186
ASX:NCM   +2.93   2,559,728   $47,521,826  1750   1800
ASX:WDC   -6.08   3,027,756   $43,903,317  1389   1505
ASX:CSL   -.05    1,209,786   $42,200,250  3389   3618
ASX:TLS   -.49    6,478,567   $26,323,063  402    410


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

Related Companies

Westpac Banking Corp        
St George Bank Limited        
Sims Metal Management Limited        
Santos Limited         
Perpetual Limited        
Origin Energy Limited             
Consolidated Media Holdings Limited         
Babcock & Brown Limited        

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