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Sydney, Feb 6, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Overnight US stocks rose as retailers' better-than-expected sales reports offset the worries over Bank of America. In UK, Bank of England cut the official interest rates by half a percentage to 1 per cent, the lowest since the Bank of England was created in 1694.

Yesterday the Australian shares closed slightly lower with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index down 0.3%, or 9.3 points, at 3428.6, while the broader All Ordinaries index declined 0.3%, or 9.7 points, at 3372.6. The market opened higher after the positive lead from the US and UK, but could also be rocked by the earnings of NAB and News Corp.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association has released performance of construction index of January, which was up to 34.1 index points from 30.9 in December. An index score lower than 50 shows the construction activity is in contraction. It has remained under 50 since March last year.

Treasury Secretary Ken Henry said the federal government's A$42 billion rescue plan was designed to address the periods of greatest economic weakness, but also warned that an economic stimulus package of the size proposed by the coalition could plunge Australia into recession.

Today the Reserve Bank of Australia releases its quarterly statement on monetary policy.

M&A News

The Foreign Investment Review Board has approved the deal for China's Zhonghin Lingnan (SHE:000060) to buy a controlling stake in zinc and lead miner Perilya (ASX:PEM). Majority of Perilya shareholders have voted in favour of the A$45.5 million deal to sell Zhonghin almost 200 000 shares at 23 cents each.

Canada's TransAtlantic Petroleum Corp (TSE:TNP) raised its offer for Australia's Incremental Petroleum Ltd (ASX:IPM) by about 2 percent to A$1.07 per share, after Incremental rejected the bid citing the offer undervalued the company.

Important Corporate News

NiPlats Australia Limited (ASX:NIP) said the company has achieved its first stage of defining Australia's largest vanadium deposit. The Board Of Directors believes the magnitude and grade of the resource represents a significant new discovery in the Australian mineral landscape.

Ansell (ASX:ANN) expects its half-year operating profit increase more than 15% compared to the previous corresponding period. Ansell will provide further guidance for the 2008/09 on February 11.

Onesteel (ASX:OST), Australia's second biggest steelmaker, has axed on its senior management team and merged some divisions as a part of its cost-cutting plan in response to the fall of steel prices.

National Australia Bank (ASX:NAB) says its unaudited cash earnings of about A$1.1bn in the December quarter. The group's bad and doubtful debts in the period reached A$824 million.

News Corporation (ASX:NWS) reported its first half financial results yesterday with a $US5.9 billion net loss, which was "a direct reflection of the grim economic climate". The CEO Rupert Murdoch said the group was cutting costs and jobs.

Futuris (ASX:FCL) expected its 2009 full year underlying profit after tax and minorities would be within the range of market expectations of A$51 million to A$60 million.

Suncorp-Metway Ltd. (ASX:SUN) said it planned to cut dividend and its interim profit could fall as much as 45%. Suncorp Chief Executive John Mulcahy will leave the company.

Contact

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


Related Companies

TransAtlantic Petroleum Corp        
Suncorp Group Limited         
Shenzhen Zhongjin Lingnan Nonfemet Com.        
Perilya Limited          
OneSteel Limited          
NiPlats Australia Limited         
News Corporation             
National Australia Bank Limited         
Incremental Petroleum Limited        
Elders Limited        
Ansell Limited         

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