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Market Update

Australian Building Approvals Ease in October, GrainCorp CEO Resigns

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:35 AM ET December 02 2013

4:30 PM Sydney – Australian stocks declined and the dollar edged higher. Australian building approvals declined 1.8% in October and eased from a record high. The seasonally adjusted value of the approvals surged 9.3% in the month, fifth monthly increase in a row. GrainCorp chief executive resigned.

Australian stocks declined and the dollar gained and investors focused on latest domestic economic data.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported building approvals in October dropped 1.8% to $7.61 billion from the upwardly revised 16.9% increase in September and surged 23.1% from a year ago month. September increase was estimated at 14.4%.

The increase in building approvals was driven by the surge in residential construction demand and the issue of new mortgages from banks.

The seasonally adjusted value of residential buildings increased 2.3%, fourth monthly increase in a row. The value of commercial building approvals soared 21.6% after declining 8.9% in the month.

In a separate the statistics agency said company profits in third-quarter rose 3.9% and increase 0.4% from the previous quarter.

A private survey conducted by HSBC showed that the growth in manufacturing activities in China slipped in November but conditions are still improving in the sector.

The revised index declined to 50.8 in November from the earlier estimate of 50.4 and from 50.9 in October. The reading above 50 indicates growth.

Australian dollar traded at 91.60 U.S. cents. In stock trading, turnover slid to 717 million shares worth $4.1 billion.

The ASX 200 index fell 40.50 or 0.8% to close at 5,279.50 and the broader All Ordinaries dropped 40.80 to 5,273.50.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto slipped 21 cents to $65.85. BHP declined 49 cents to $36.90. Woodside Petroleum Limited decreased 40 cents to $37.

Westpac slipped 28 cents to $32.60.

Ausenco Limited tumbled 38.1% to 66 cents after the Australia-based infrastructure developer lowered fiscal sales forecasted to $450 million from earlier estimate in the range of $490 million to $520 million and estimated net loss for the year of $35.7 million.

After stock began trading from halt after the engineering group said it is likely to breach loan conditions.

Cover-More Group Limited, and the travel insurer plans initial public offering by year-end to raise $521.2 million and price its offering at $2 a share and value the company at $635 million.

Graincorp Ltd declined 3.6% to $8.41 after the grain supply company said its chief executive officer Alison Watkins resigned after the government rejected $2.7 billion takeover offer from Archer-Daniels-Midland Co.

Watkins has agreed to lead Coca-Cola Amatil from February.

Icon Energy Limited soared 6.9% to 15.5 cents after the oil and gas explorer sold 80.3 million shares to Hong Kong based HK Prosperous Technology and raised $18.8 million.

Metcash Limited jumped 7.5% to $3.28 after the grocery wholesaler reported revenue in the first-half ending in October jumped 5% to $6.65 billion. Net profit for the period climbed 20.6% to $98.9 million compared to $82 million a year earlier.

Qantas Airways Limited gained 0.8% to $1.23 after the state controlled airline in a written complaint asked federal government to revoke Virgin Australia’s international license.

Separately, Qantas said it has signed a code-sharing deal with Asia’s largest airline China Southern.

Virgin Australia said “Virgin Australia International Holdings Pty Ltd is fully compliant with the Air Navigation Act which limits foreign ownership of Australian international airlines to 49% and governed by a majority independent board of directors and including Chairman.”

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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