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Market Update

Australia Offers Farmers Assistance Package, Lend Lease Net Drops 16%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 8:42 AM ET February 26 2014

5:00 PM Sydney – Australian indexes closed higher led by a rise in banks and insurance companies. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a $320 million assistance package for drought affected farmers. Lend Lease first-half profit declined 16% but offered positive outlook.

Australian investors focused on domestic news and earnings.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a $320 million package for farmers in Queensland, New South Wales. Farmers’ incomes have plummeted after the two-year long drought.

The federal government assistance will include $12 million for emergency water infrastructure scheme and $10 million for feral animal control and $10.7 million for psychological crisis support program.

Australian dollar fell to 90.11 U.S. cents and in stock market trading turnover jumped to 866 million shares worth $5 billion.

The ASX 200 index closed edged up to 3.20 to 5,437 and the broader All Ordinaries fell to 3 to 5,447.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto slipped 93 cents to $68.62. BHP slid 28 cents to $39.10. Woodside Petroleum Limited fell 33 to $37.66.

Westpac decreased 15 cents to $33.42.

AGL Energy Ltd slid 0.2% to $15.95 after the gas and electricity producer said revenue in the first-half ending in December fell 2.6% to $4.84 billion a year ago period.

Profit in the period plunged 27.1% to $261 million compared to $358 million a year earlier.

The electricity retailer said it is confident that the company has addressed concerns that a $1.51 billion deal to buy more power assets might stifle competition.

Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd jumped 3.2% to $51.39 after the travel agency reported revenue in the first-half ending in December soared 15% to $1 billion from a year earlier.

Net profit in the year surged 20.7% to $111 million from a year ago.

The company also estimated full-year pre-tax earnings between $370 million and $385 million, between 8% and 12% growth in underlying profit.

Pact Group Holdings Ltd declined 4.5% to $3.40 after the packaging products maker revenue in the first-half ending in December rose 0.2% to $567.6 million from $566.6 million a year ago.

Net profit in the period dropped 4% to $21.7 million compared to $22.6 million

Westfield Group dropped 2.7% to $10.39 after the property investment company reported revenue in the year ending in December jumped 7.4% to $2.39 billion.

Net profit in the year dropped 6.7% to $1.60 billion compared to $1.72 billion and diluted earnings per share jumped to 22.53 cents from 11.91 cents a year earlier.

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