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.
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.