US and UK Bearish Sentiment
The Australian market ended lower Friday. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 46.5 points, or 1.4%, at 3402.4. The broader All Ordinaries index shed 45 points, or 1.3%, to 3353. The market sentiment hit by the bearish tone from overseas is not likely to change by the upcoming half year earnings.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
Reserve Bank of Australia figures show that Australians chose to use a large slice of their A$8.7 billion pre-Christmas government handouts to pay credit card bills. The value of credit card repayments rose by A$3.9 billion in December.
Australian Bureau of Statistics said Household savings share in income increased to 3.9 per cent in the September quarter, as people are fearful about the job losses and the grim economy.
Treasurer Wayne Swan said that the Government would closely looking the proposed A$30 billion deal between Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) and Chinalco at the national interest criteria.
Chief executive of OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) Andrew Michelmore says China's Minmetals may use its A$2.6 billion purchase in the Australian company as a starting point for further acquisitions.
It is said that Macquarie Media Group (ASX:MMG) is trying to unwind the sale of stakes in Darwin Digital Television and Tasmanian Digital TV to Prime Media Group Ltd. (ASX:PRT) and WIN Television, respectively.
Important Corporate News
Transfield Services Ltd (ASX:TSE) booked a 25% fall in first half profit to A$30.287 million compared to the prior corresponding period. But the company maintained its profit forecast provided economic conditions don't continue to deteriorate.
BlueScope Steel (ASX:BSL) said its first-half net profit rose 251 per cent to A$479 million from A$116 million in the previous comparative reporting period. But the company forecasts that its underlying full-year result could be a loss if the economy continued to worsen.
Fairfax Media (ASX:FXJ) reported the net loss for the six months ended December 28 was A$365.27 million, compared to a profit of A$195.97 million in the previous corresponding period.
OM Holdings Ltd (ASX:OMH) recorded a net profit of A$115.6 million for the year to December 31 2008 compared with A$56.9 million in 2007. Chief executive Peter Toth said the outlook for the steel industry remains volatile and uncertain.
Iress Market Technology (ASX:IRE) has reported a 39.8% rise in annual profit with net profit for calendar 2008 rose to A$35.62 million, from A$25.48 million in 2007. The company anticipates the underlying earnings can grow modestly this year.
Virgin Blue holdings (ASX:VBA) reported a first-half net loss of A$101.4 million for the six months ended December 31, 2008 compared with the net profit of A$113.3 million for the same period last year.
Virgin Blue Holdings Limited
Rio Tinto Limited
Prime Media Group
Oz Minerals Limited
Om Holdings Limited
Macquarie Media Group
Fairfax Media Limited
Bluescope Steel Limited
Aluminum Corporation of China (CHINALCO)