Further Drop Ahead
Further Drop Ahead

Sydney, Feb 19, 2009 AEST (ABN Newswire) - Overnight Wall Street ended rather flat. Investors remained cautious although details of Obama's housing rescue plan had been released.

Yesterday the Australian stocks closed lower on all sectors. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 lost 51.1 points, or 1.48 per cent, at 3,413.2, while the broader All Ordinaries dropped 45.3 points, or 1.33 per cent, to 3,366.9. The local market has fell 4.1% so far this week, and the shares may see a further drop after base metal and oil prices lowered.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that retail sales adjusted for inflation rose 0.8% in the fourth quarter to $53.5 billion, the biggest increase in a year.

ABS also said merchandise imports fell by A$2.86 billion, to A$17.261 billion, from a downwardly revised A$20.121 billion in December. The merchandise imports fell 14% in unadjusted terms in January to A$17.26 billion from A$20.12 billion in December.

M&A News

Pure Energy Resources Ltd (ASX:PES) has recommended shareholders accept BG Group's (LON:BG) increased takeover offer of A$8 cash per Pure share, which values the deal at A$995 million.

Important Corporate News

Woodside Petroleum (ASX:WPL) has reported a 55% rise in 2008 underlying net profit. Its net profit before one-off items was A$1.83 billion in 2008. Woodside will cut spending by over A$500 million and review non-core assets for possible sale in response to the falling oil price.

Fund manager Perpetual Ltd (ASX:PPT) posted a 84% fall in its first-half profit on direct impacts of the financial crisis. The net profit was A$14.192 million in the six months to December 31, compared to A$87.6 million in the previous corresponding period.

Noni B (ASX:NBL) has slashed its dividend after a 53% fall in half year profit, but the clothing retailer says it expects stronger results in the second half.

Pacifica Group (ASX:PBB) has booked an annual net loss of A$242 million for the 2008 calendar year, compared to an annual net profit of A$21.4 million in calendar 2007.

Zircon producer Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU) delivered a significant increase in full year profit ended December 31, which rose 51.7% on the previous corresponding period to A$77.5 million. But the company says it will not pay a dividend to conserve cash for growth projects.

AMP (ASX:AMP) has posted a 41% fall in annual net profit for the 2008 year. It was A$580 million, down from A$985 million in the previous 12 months.

Australia's biggest private regional airline Regional Express (ASX:REX) yesterday reported a 1.9 per cent rise in half-year net profit to A$10.5 million.

Sunland Group (ASX:SDG) booked a net profit after tax of A$68 million for the December half-year despite a A$41 million write-down associated with its Australian and Dubai property portfolios.

Lion Nathan Ltd (ASX:LNN) said it had a solid start to the year and reaffirmed its full year profit would be between A$300-A$315 million.

Santos Ltd (ASX:STO) has reported a significant increase in profit for calendar 2008 and says the company is well placed amid the global economic crisis. Its net profit rose 359 per cent to A41.65 billion, from A$359.3 million in 2007.

Private hospitals operator Healthscope Ltd (ASX:HSP) posted a 145 per cent rise in first half profit ender December 31.


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

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