Australian Market Report of March 20: Investors Digested Recent Rallies

ABN Newswire – US stocks retreated overnight led by some financial firms as investors digested the Federal Reserve’s latest stimulus measures.

Yesterday Australian shares closed 1% higher as most sectors surged. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 33.9 points, at 3480.2 while the All Ordinaries index was up 0.9%, or 30.60 points, at 3416.8. The local mining and energy sectors could be buoyed by the rising gold and oil prices today despite the negative lead from the US.

“There have been in general quite some recoveries across the REIT sectors, especially on the small sized REITs,” says market analyst Thomas Su. He believed that the next round of consolidation is starting very soon as the credit crunch concerns are becoming more clarified and buying more REITs could be considered at the moment.

Key Economic Facts and Figures

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said sales of new car fell 3.5 per cent in February seasonally adjusted, to 73,190 units. The number has dropped for the 14th consecutive month. In the year to February 2008 total new car sales fell by 18 per cent.

M&A News

Foreign Investment Review Board had extended the approvals review period for the takeover bid by China’s Anshan Iron & Steel Group Corp to purchase Gindalbie Metals (ASX:GBG).

OZ Minerals (ASX:OZL) said the Australian regulator may rule on the Minmetals’ A.6 million offer by the end of the month.

Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG) said the foreign investment regulator issued an order to delay a proposed investment by China’s Hunan Valin Iron and Steel Group.

Important Corporate News

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) says a contractor has been killed at Newman in Western Australia. Construction work has been suspended at the Newman hub construction site.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action against Telstra (ASX:TLS) for the telecom’s refusing other telecommunication companies access to the copper-wire at seven key telephone exchanges in Australia’s largest cities.

Heart pump developer Ventracor (ASX:VCR) has called in the administrators. Ventracor said the company had failed to raise funds to carry it through to the end of June this year.

Macquarie Airports (ASX:MAP) said that passenger traffic continued to decline across its portfolio of global airports in February, with traffic at its key Sydney Airport down 7.8% from a year ago.

Goodman Fielder (ASX:GFF) has raised A0m from a bilateral revolving loan facility with Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA). The company will raise a further A million through its dividend reinvestment plan which has been underwritten to 50% by the Commonwealth Bank.

Murchison Metals Limited (ASX:MMX) is pleased to announce that the Premier of Western Australia, the Honourable Colin Barnett, MLA today signed a State Development Agreement with Oakajee Port & Rail (OPR) for the Oakajee port and rail infrastructure project. Murchison and Mitsubishi Development, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation of Japan, each hold a 50% economic interest in OPR which will deliver a world-class open access infrastructure solution for the emerging resources industry in Western Australia’s mid-west.