Overnight US stocks fell in choppy trade and hit a fresh low in more than 12 years. Some bank and oil stocks rebounded, but the broader US market was down as investors were fearful that the recession is spreading further and lasting longer.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
The Dun & Bradstreet survey of business expectations found that 65 per cent of firms expected declining profits in the June quarter in response to the deteriorating economy. And 57 per cent of those surveyed anticipated a drop in sales.
Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) has agreed to sell a further A$86.8 million of its shares to China's Hunan Valin Iron and Steel Group Company. Valin's stake in Fortescue will rise to 17.4% after the sale of the new shares.
Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) has sold the Jacobs Ranch thermal coal mine in the US to Arch Coal Inc (NYSE:ACI) for $US761 million. This brings Rio's total asset sales announced this year to $US2.5 billion.
Oil and gas explorer Nexus Energy (ASX:NXS) is expected to reveal the results of its proposals in relation to asset sales and debt raising alternatives. Nexus has been searching for a partner to fund the development of Crux project since Mitsui (TYO:8031) of Japan abandoned a $US255 million deal to buy a 25 per cent stake in October.
Jupiter Mines (ASX:JMS) shareholders have overwhelmingly approved a partial takeover by former BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) boss Brian Gilbertson. Under the deal, Mr Gilbertson's Pallinghurst Resources and associated company Red Rock Resources (LON:RRR) will receive new Jupiter equity to boost their combined holding from 19.9 per cent to 55.5 per cent.
The poker-machine maker Aristocrat Leisure (ASX:ALL) said it would avoid underwriting its dividend reinvestment plan. Most Aristocrat shareholders shied away from taking extra shares in the company, opting for cash instead.
Avexa Limited (ASX:AVX) has failed in its attempted merger with Progen Pharmaceuticals (ASX:PGL). Progen dumped its unpopular merger plans saying proxy voting had been decisively and unambiguously opposed to the union.
Important Corporate News
Centrex Metals (ASX:CXM) said the company remains optimistic that its application to export from Port Lincoln's main wharf will succeed. The company has completed a development application for its alternative route, via Proper Bay south of Port Lincoln, but will not progress that before the Brennen jetty application is settled.
Shares of Hastings Diversified Utilities Fund (ASX:HDF) fell to their record lows amid the concerns that the company will be forced to sell assets in a buyers' market. Shares have fallen nearly two thirds in the last week, and more than 80 per cent in the past month.
(Part of the information above is contributed by CMC Markets. For further details, please visit http://www.cmcmarkets.com.au )
Michelle Liang Asia Business News Asia Bureau Tel: +61-2-9247-4344 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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