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Australian Market Wrap
Australian Equities declined, with the S&P/ASX 200 finishing on session lows after European leaders held back aid for debt-laden Greece until the state holds a parliamentary vote to implement austerity measures. The news offset optimism this morning, which drove the Euro to an eight-week high against the US Dollar, after Greek political leaders said they reached an agreement on the underlying details of the nation’s budget. In Asia, China’s Shanghai Composite rose as much as 0.8 percent after the nation’s trade surplus rose to a six month high of $27.3 billion.
Materials were the laggard, led by Arafura Resources (A$0.385, – 17.2%) after it reduced the rate of work at its Nolans Project, pending additional funding. Integra (A$0.60, -0.8%) intersected further high-grade mineralisation at its Imperial prospect. Rio Tinto (A$69.98, -2.3%) reported a second half loss of A$1.76 billion after writing off another A$8.9 billion from Alcan. Aquarius Platinum (A$2.33, -3.7%) fell after it too reported a first half loss of $113.5 million after production at its South African mines was hit by regulatory stoppages. Mount Gibson Iron (A$1.35, -3.6%) saw its profits decline on lower production.
Transfield Services (A$2.20, +12.0%) led the market higher despite reporting that annual profit will come in at the lower end of guidance of A$130 million to A$135 million, but is above consensus of A$111.5 million. Newcrest (A$34.01, +1.7%) was the day’s other winner after first-half profits rose 50 per cent to A$659 million, a new record. Among other gainers Ten Network (A$0.90, +1.1%) appointed Lachlan Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch, as Chairman.
Financials fluctuated as NAB (A$22.94, -0.3%), Commonwealth Bank (A$49.88, -1.1%) and Westpac (A$20.85, -1.1%) finished lower. ANZ (A$21.42, -0.9%) lifted its standard variable rate by 0.06 per cent to 7.36 per cent and cut its three-year fixed rate home loan by 0.15 per cent to 5.99 per cent. The bank cited intense pressure on funding margins. In other news Leighton (A$23.85, -2.5%) was awarded a A$220 million construction contract following near daily awards this week. Finally James Hardie Industries Se (A$7.22, – 2.8%) is due to receive A$300 million from the Australian tax Office after the High Court denied the latter’s appeal application.