Australian Market Report of August 7: Concerns over US Jobs Data

US stocks fell for a second day on Thursday as investors worried over the key employment figures, which are scheduled to release on Friday. Most economists expect the data will show the unemployment rate climbed to 9.6 per cent, from a 26-year high of 9.5 per cent in June.

The Australian share market yesterday shrugged off the negative lead from Wall Street and gained on the better-than-expected employment data. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index surged 58.2 points, or 1.4 per cent, at 4322.7, while the broader All Ordinaries index added 61.8 points, or 1.4 per cent, to 4326.3.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The National Australia Bank's survey of small and medium enterprises (SME) for the June quarter shows that more small businesses are confident about posting a profit in the second half of 2009. The report's measure of the outlook for profitability among SMEs improved 28 index points to plus-one points in the quarter while measure of business confidence rose 15 index points to minus-seven points. A reading above zero indicates optimists outnumber pessimists.

The Australian Industry Group-Housing Industry Association performance of construction index (PCI) fell 3.1 index points to 39.5 points in July, as the slow pace of apartment building has held back overall recovery in the construction sector. The index has remained below the 50 level, which separates growth from contraction, for 17 months.

M&A News

Lion Nathan (ASX:LNN) has released its scheme booklet outlining its proposed sale to Japanese brewing giant Kirin Holdings (TYO:2503). Kirin intends to merge Lion with its Australian dairy processing business National Foods. The merged business, to be known as Lion Nathan National Foods, will be run by Lion chief Rob Murray, assisted by Lion's senior management team.

Whitehaven Coal (ASX:WHC) has entered into a Heads of Agreement to sell a 7.5% interest in its Narrabri Joint Venture Project to a Korean Consortium for A$125 million. The consortium of Korea Resources Corporation and Daewoo International Corp (SEO:047050) will also contribute 7.5% of the project's future costs.

Important Corporate News

Webjet (ASX:WEB) increased its annual net profit by 15 per cent to A$7.7 million for the 12 months to June 30, from $6.7 million in the prior corresponding period. Webjet will pay a final dividend of 3.5 cents per share, taking the full-year dividend to 6.5 cents.

ResMed Inc (ASX:RMD) posted record revenue and income for the quarter ended June 30, 2009. The income from operations and net income rose 57% and 52% respectively from the same quarter last year. For the year ended June 30, revenue rose 10 per cent to US$920.73 m from US$835.4 million in 2008. Income from operations and net income were US$190.3 million and US$146.4 million, both 33% increases compared to the year ended June 30, 2008.

Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation (ASX:CXC) reported a second quarter silver production record of 4.3 million ounces during the second quarter of 2009. The company said his represents a 74% increase compared to same quarter last year, driven by silver production from its two new large mines in Bolivia and Mexico.

Suncorp-Metway Ltd (ASX:SUN) says it full year profit could fall as volatile markets hit profits in the general insurance investment portfolios. Net profit after tax, Promina acquisition items and minority interests is expected to be in the range of A$340 million to A$360 million. Suncorp acquired fellow insurer Promina in early 2007 to become Australia's third largest general insurer.

West Australian Newspapers Holdings Ltd (ASX:WAN) reported a net profit of A$87.2 million for the year to June 30 2009, compared with A$109.9 million in 2008. The company's full-year profit declined 20.6 per cent as advertising revenue was hit by the economic slowdown.

Michelle Liang
Asia Business News Asia Bureau
Tel: +61-2-9247-4344


Copyright (C) 2009 ABN Newswire. All rights reserved.

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