Yesterday the Australian share market weathered the bad lead from Wall Street and ended with a modest drop. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 0.4%, or 14.3 points, at 3474.4, while the All Ordinaries fell 0.3%, or 10.5 points, at 3418.1. Today traders are expecting Rio Tinto's earnings report with a profit increase and details of the talks with Chinalco over the A$30 billion cash injection deal.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
The number of home loans, seasonally adjusted, increased 6.4% in December from the previous month, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This is the third consecutive month of gains in home-loan approvals, due to interest rate cuts and government stimulus plan. The share of first home buyers in the property market rose to a seven-year high in December.
The Westpac-Melbourne Institute index of consumer sentiment fell 4.6 per cent in February to 85.8 points despite the rate cut and government's stimulus package. An index below 100 points level shows pessimists are the majority in the survey.
The Senate is scheduled to vote on the government A$42 billion economic stimulus package today.
Murchison Metals (ASX:MMX) yesterday confirmed shareholders had approved constitutional changes to stop China's Sinosteel from gaining control without their approval.
Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) is expected to deliver underlying profit of up to A$14.82 billion, but the result is likely to be overshadowed by write-downs and measures to relieve its heavy debt. Tonight Rio may announce a series of deals with China's state-owned Chinalco. The deals valued at A$30 billion would be examined by the Foreign Investment Review Board.
Arrow Energy (ASX:AOE) has raised its initial bid to Pure Energy (ASX:PES) by 21%, topping UK major BG Group's (LON:BG) rival offer. Arrow is now offering A$3 plus 1.57 Arrow shares per Pure share.
Important Corporate News
Building materials group Boral (ASX:BLD) posted a 44 percent fall in first-half net profit to A$75 million. The company said it may not need to raise equity or sell assets despite the global downturn in the housing and construction industry.
Property developer and investor Stockland (ASX:SGP) posted a A$726 million loss after one-off costs for the six months to December 31. The company also warned that the loss would probably be repeated for the full year.
Tower Australia Group Ltd (ASX:TAL) says it will benefit from the economic slowdown as more people take up life insurance because of worries about their finances. Tower reported that underlying profit for the full year to September 30 grew 14 per cent to $67.9 million.
James Hardie Industries NV (ASX:JHX) has recorded a drop in net operating profit in the first nine months of fiscal 2009. Net operating profit for the period was $US89.7 million down 43% from $US156.8 million in the previous corresponding period.
Gale Pacific (ASX:GAP) is considering raising A$6 million through a 1.25 for 1 rights issue following the revelation of a net profit fall for the December half, down to A$2.2 million from A$4.32 million for the same period the previous year.
Hudson Investment Group Limited (ASX:HGL) said its Queensland coal portfolio had increased to 14 tenements. Hudson Investment, which holds major stakes in Hudson Resources Limited (ASX:HRS) and Tiaro Coal Limited (ASX:TCM), also reported the recent achievement of the two companies.
Beaconsfield Gold (ASX:BCD) today redeemed in full 12 million convertible notes for A$4.08 million. The redemption was funded from the excellent positive cash flow being generated by the Beaconsfield Mine, the company said in a statement.
Tower Australia Group Ltd
Rio Tinto Limited
Pure Energy Resources Limited
Murchison Metals Limited
James Hardie Industries N.V.
Hudson Resources Limited
Hudson Investment Group Limited
Gale Pacific Limited
BG Group plc
BCD Resources Nl
Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO)