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Sydney, Jan 19, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Wall Street slightly higher on Friday with ongoing concerns over the banking industry and bets placed on a range of consumer and industrial stocks.

On Friday the Australian stock market ended higher on the recovery in mining sector. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 21.4 points, or 0.61%, at 3550.9, while the broader All Ordinaries gained 18.1 points, or 0.52%, to 3494.9. Analysts expect the market may keep its way of turbulence in the reporting season until some clarity of the economy could be seen. Tomorrow Barack Obama's inauguration will be the focus of the week to boost some confidence in the market.

At 0735 AEDT on the Sydney Futures Exchange, the March Share Price Index futures contract was up ten points at 3,534.

The Australian dollar opened firmer as optimism about Barack Obama's upcoming inauguration as US president helped high-yielding currencies. At 0700 AEDT, the Australian dollar was trading at $US0.6744/52, up marginally from Friday's close of $US0.6741/44.

On Friday light, sweet crude for March fell 97 US cents to settle at $US42.57 on the New York Mercantile Exchange as crude inventories increased. The February contract, which expires on Tuesday, rose $US1.11 to settle at $US36.51 a barrel in very light trading.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

A report by forecaster Access Economics warns Australia will go into recession this year as the economic boom unwinds. A blow out in the account deficit and a loss of 300,000 jobs is likely to be a result of the downturn, it says. Access Economics says NSW is in recession and the rest of the Australian states are set to follow. Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan responded he would not speculate on whether Australia will go into a recession, but he also said there would be a further stimulus package if needed.

The TD Securities-Melbourne Institute has released monthly inflation gauge, which fell 0.2% in December, on top of a 0.6% drop the month before and a 0.2% dip in October. This was the first time in the history of the series that the gauge had fallen for three consecutive months.

Today the Australian Bureau of Statistics will release its lending finance data for November.

M&A News

The board of financial services provider Espreon Ltd(ASX:EON) has unanimously advised shareholders to accept SAI Global Ltd's(ASX:SAI) A$53.9 million takeover offer after an independent expert deemed the deal fair and reasonable. Last month Espreon rejected a A$42.7 million takeover bid by private investment firm Vectis Group Pty Ltd.

Important Corporate News

QBE Insurance Group (ASX:QBE) will sell A$114.8 million of new shares to its retail investors, after Australia's biggest insurer scaled back the oversubscribed purchase plan. The company received applications worth $226.5 million for the shares, more than double the A$100 million it aimed to raise.

Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) slashed hundreds of jobs at its Australian operational head office in Perth and has sacked 241 workers and contractors at its Utah copper operations in the US.

The Multiplex Prime Property Fund (ASX:MAFCA) warns that the upcoming reporting season could be the ugliest yet for the troubled sector, after warning it expected to post a A$38 million half-year loss. The fund said the losses would "predominantly" stem from write-downs in the value of its "A-grade" property portfolio.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) chief executive Mike Smith has reaffirmed the earnings target from the bank's Asia Pacific interests of 20 percent by 2012, with recent share price declines opening the door for possible acquisitions in the region.

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) has split its business and corporate division from the institutional banking and markets areas. The new division will include agribusiness and private client services.

Otto Energy Limited (ASX:OEL)(PINK:OTTEF) and joint venture partner Incremental Petroleum (ASX:IPM) announce that two gas bearing intervals have been identified in the Ikihoyuk-2 appraisal well located in the Edirne Licence, Western Turkey.

Contact

Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344
Email: michelle.liang@abnnewswire.net


Related Companies

SAI Global Limited        
Rio Tinto Limited          
QBE Insurance Group Limited        
Otto Energy Limited         
Multiplex Prime Property Fund        
Incremental Petroleum Limited        
Espreon Limited       
Commonwealth Bank of Australia        
Australia and New Zealand Banking Corporation        

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