The Dow index gave up last week's success and slipped back slightly over the weekend. US and European stock markets closed lower on Friday after the latest US corporate results disappointed high hopes and pushed Wall Street back down through the key 10,000 points level.
The U.S. budget deficit hit a record US$1.4 trillion to the end of the fiscal year, the US government said on Friday, as the recession and a series of bank rescues cut a hole in public finances. That figure was US$162 billion smaller than the White House had forecast in August, but it still amounted to 10 percent of total U.S. economic output, the most for any budget shortfall since World War Two.
The Australian dollar opened lower today, as investor appetite for the risk sensitive currency decreased following poor profit results from major US companies.
Key Economic Facts and Figures
Forecasters are revising their unemployment figures and expecting the unemployment rate to peak at 6.8 per cent in the middle of next year. The Federal Government had previously flagged a rise in unemployment to 8.5 cent by mid-2010, when delivering its Budget last May. The jobless rate currently stands at 5.7 per cent.
Transport and logistics group Toll Holdings (ASX:TOL) is eyeing more takeover opportunities as it seeks to become a dominant player in Asia, with plans to spend between A$500 million and A$700 million from cash and bank borrowing facilities. Chief executive Paul Little said yesterday that with valuation multiples at their lowest in a while, the time was right to look at mergers and acquisitions of freight forwarders.
Services and Technology company to the metals industry, Ausmelt Limited (ASX:AET), has received an offer from an unidentified company to acquire all of its shares. Ausmelt has recently announced new lead smelting operations in China and India, and indicated that the offer price is significantly in excess of Ausmelt's current share price.
Polaris Metals (ASX:POL) has advised shareholders to take no action on the offer by Mineral Resources (ASX:MIN) to acquire all of its shares. Polaris favours a superior offer from Lion-Asia Resources representing a premium of 6% on the Minerals Resources offer.
Pilbara Iron Ore hopefuls Brockman Resources (ASX:BRM), FerrAus Limited (ASX:FRS), BC Iron Limited (ASX:BCI) and Iron Ore Holdings Limited (ASX:IOH) rallied strongly on Friday as a result of BHP Limited's (ASX:BHP) takeover offer for United Minerals Corporation (ASX:UMC).
Important Corporate News
U.S. oil company Chevron Corp (NYSE:CVX) has made a gas discovery off Western Australia, which could underpin its plans for the expansion of the A$37 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project. Chevron, operator and 47.75-percent owner of the Gorgon project, said late on Sunday it had achieved drilling success at its Achilles-1 exploration well in the offshore Carnarvon Basin, encountering approximately 100 metres of net gas pay.
Myer Holdings Limited chief executive Bernie Brookes begins his United States east coast road show this week as he puts the department store before leading fund managers and institutional investors in the lead-up to its November 2 float. Capital Group, Fidelity and Templeton are among the larger fund managers targeted during the road show who already have extensive investments in Australia. Their interest in the A$3 billion Myer float will greatly affect the final price of the shares.
Norton Gold Fields (ASX:NGF) one of the largest ASX listed gold producers, today announced the successful placement of shares worth A$40.5 million to sophisticated investors in Canada, USA, UK and Hong Kong at A32.83 cents per share. The placement provides significant funding for the company's growth plans for the Mount Morgan Mine project in Queensland.
Monaro Mining (ASX:MRO) announced an independent re-evaluation of the Rio Puerco mine in New Mexico USA, resulting in a significant increase of 250% in the project's uranium resource inventory. Monaro's chairman Jim Malone said the results of this work have dramatically exceeded the company's expectations.
Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) and Arch Rival Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW) are among a number of companies to update investors this week. Wesfarmer's all important first quarter sales numbers for Coles Supermarket outlets are to be released on Friday.
Other companies who will supply market updates this week from their annual meetings include Qantas (ASX:QAN) and Fosters Group (ASX:FBW).