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Market Update

Australia Looks Ahead to Rate Decision, Westpac, Stockland, Tabcorp in Focus


Author: Marcus Jacob
ticker.com
Last Update: 8:45 AM ET May 04 2015

5:30 PM Sydney Australian market indexes struggled to trade higher ahead of interest rate decision from the Reserve Bank tomorrow. Westpac Banking reported flat profit on charges in the derivative business. Stockland Corp forecasted annual profit to increase between 7% and 7.5%.

Australian market indexes struggled to find direction as investors looked ahead to interest rate decision tomorrow.

The seasonally adjusted building approvals in March climbed 2.8% to 19,419 followed by upwardly revised 1.6% contraction in February.

Home loans approvals jumped 0.5% and apartment loan approvals soared 5.3%, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said today.

Australian dollar closed at 78.40 U.S. cents and in stock trading turnover slid to 651 million shares worth $5.3 billion.

At close, the ASX 200 Index gained 13.10 or 0.2% to 5,827.50 and the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 17.10 to 5,815.90.

In commodities trading, gold edged up US$3 to US$1,185 an ounce and Brent crude rose 0.12 cents to close at US$66.58 a barrel.

Australian Stock Movers

Stockland Corporation Ltd gained 1.3% to $4.51 after the home builder reported forecasted earnings per share growth for the fiscal year between 7% and 7.5%.

Stockland said comparable specialty sales in the quarter jumped 4.9% and the residential deposits were rose the most since 2009 after the developer acquired around 4,000 new lots during the quarter in metropolitan areas.

Tabcorp Holdings Limited rose 0.4% to $4.85 after the gambling and entertainment group improved its revenue in the third quarter by 3.3% to $508.7 million from a year ago period due to strength in its wagering and media business.

The company said wagering and media revenue climbed 5.6% $440.6 million compared to a year ago period.

Westpac Banking Corp declined 3.1% to $35.60 after the banking and financial service provider reported revenues in the first-half ending in March climbed 4% to $16.53 billion from $15.86 billion in a year ago period.

Net profit in the period was nearly flat at $3.61 billion compared to $3.62 billion and diluted earnings per share were flat at 114.5 cents from the same period a year ago.

The bank said profit was stagnant on $85 million charge linked to derivative adjustments in institutional-banking division and lower Treasury income.

The bank said housing loans in the period soared 7% to $24.7 billion and increased the interim dividend by 3% to 93 cents per share from a year earlier.

WorleyParsons Ltd plunged 9.6% to $10.35 after the engineering construction services provider said it will write-down about $100 million in the current fiscal year.

The contractor services provider also plans to reduce more than 2,000 jobs and reduce annually between $75 million and $100 million.

The company said onerous lease charges would be of about $125 million before tax and earnings in the second-half to fall 50% from the first-half of this fiscal year.

WorleyParsons reported net profit of $104.3 million in the half-year through December.

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc