Sydney, Nov 12, 2008 AEST (ABN Newswire) - US stocks tumbled overnight on fears of a collapse of General Motors and a series of troubling corporate news amid the global credit crisis.

Australian shares have closed below 4000 points after business confidence sank to a record low. Analysts said the market with thin trading volumes was plagued by the negative sentiment concerning global recession. Resources sector would lead the market lower as oil prices fell below $US60.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 3.6%, or 146.9 points, to 3960.9. The All Ordinaries index was down 3.4%, or 138.2 points, to 3921.8.
The Aussie dollar has opened lower, in line with weak equity markets and falling commodity prices overnight. At 7am AEDT, the dollar was trading at $US0.6583/88, down 1.31 US cents, or 1.95 per cent, from yesterday's close of $US0.6715/18.

Overnight oil prices sank more than $US3 a barrel on recession fears in New York. On the New York Mercantile Exchange, light sweet crude for December tumbled $US3.08 lower to close at $US59.33.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

National Australia Bank's (ASX:NAB) has released its survey result showing the business confidence fell by an unprecedented 21 index points in October to -29 points. The index slumped to a record low since the monthly survey began in 1997. Meanwhile, the business conditions index fell 10 index points to a seven year low of -11 points.

Business confidence has slumped to its lowest level on record, fuelling speculation the Reserve Bank will continue to take a hatchet to its cash rate in the coming months. Economists expect it to cut by 50 basis points when the RBA board next meets in December and the destination could be four per cent.

Westpac and the Melbourne Institute release their Index of Consumer Sentiment for November.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its labour price index data for the September quarter and lending finance data for September.

M&A News

UK-headquartered financial systems supplier, Sage Group(LON:SGE), has emerged as an alternative suitor for accounting software maker MYOB(ASX:MYO). It was suggested yesterday that the potential takeover of MYOB by Sage could arouse the interest of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Brickworks Investment Company(ASX:BKI) acquired 6,763,069 shares of target Huntley Investment Company(ASX:HIC) yesterday as acceptances for its takeover bid, increasing its share from 42.92% to 46.83%.

Important Corporate News

Australia's biggest shopping centre operator Westfield Group(ASX:WDC) confirmed that it expects operational earnings to grow 5.5 per cent in calendar 2008. The company also confirmed in a statement that it would pay a distribution of A$1.065 per stapled security in fiscal 2008.

Healthcare information company IBA Health Group(ASX:IBA) says it expects to double revenues in three years from 2010 after launching its new IT platform that provides access to patients' records at every stage of the healthcare process.

Telstra(ASX:TLS) has again refused to guarantee that it will put forward a bid to build the Federal Government's National Broadband Network. Tenders for the A$4.7 billion project will close later this month. The company says it will not be submitting a bid if the Government forces it to separate its retail business from its infrastructure.

Asciano Group(ASX:AIO) says it is not planning a big equity raising and doesn't know why its securities plunged almost 60 per cent before being placed in a trading halt until after the market closed. Asciano's shares plunged by 59.9% before the trading halt, and the Australian Securities Exchange queried Asciano about the share fall.

1. Related Stocks - Mid Market (AEST 1230)
----------------------------------------------------Code   % Change   Volume     Turnover      Low  High----------------------------------------------------ASX:MYO  -3.33   22,446      $23,343      101     105ASX:BKI  -1.81   96,467      $103,661     105     108ASX:HIC  -4.68   62,537      $38,203      61      61.5ASX:WDC  -.75    1,910,097   $27,889,006  1425    1487ASX:IBA  +1.56   275,484     $179,028     64.5    66ASX:TLS  -.46    18,920,435  $80,856,710  426     430ASX:AIO  +43.47  78,180,403  $56,399,223  49.5    99
2. Top 10 ASX on Turnover - Mid Market (AEST 1230)
----------------------------------------------------Code   % Change   Volume     Turnover      Low  High----------------------------------------------------ASX:NAB  -.64    7,994,938   $190,441,741 1981    2031ASX:BHP  -1.52   4,602,135   $135,197,032 2803    2909ASX:CBA  -.81    2,927,134   $108,544,961 3455    3590ASX:TLS  -.46    18,920,713  $80,857,894  426     430ASX:GPT  +10.95  71,771,485  $80,252,249  101     144ASX:WBC  -.51    3,280,806   $66,181,575  1895    1978ASX:AIO  +44.92  78,411,778  $56,629,538  49.5    100ASX:ANZ  -.06    3,394,445   $54,967,633  1551    1583ASX:WES  -1.93   1,942,510   $39,208,698  1963    2013ASX:WPL  -1.87   783,290     $36,989,268  3875    3970


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

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