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Market Update

Australian Dollar at 4-Month Low

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:00 AM ET December 18 2013

4:30 PM Sydney – Australian and Asian markets closed slightly lower as investors awaited U.S. Fed decision later in the day. Australian dollar extended losses. Bega Cheese said it will not revise its offer for Warnambool Cheese. Woodside Petroleum said Browse Project would have cost at least $80 billion.

Australian indexes closed down and followed weak trading in Asia ahead of the U.S. Fed policy announcement later today.

Australian dollar slumped to 89.02 U.S. cents. Stock trading turnover increased to 772 million shares worth $4.6 billion.

The ASX 200 index fell 7.10 to close at 5,096.10 and the broader All Ordinaries slid 6.80 to 5,099.30.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto added 3 cents to $65.33 after the miner secured commitments from the banks to finance the underground expansion of the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in Mongolia.

BHP gained 13 cents to $35.79.

Woodside Petroleum Limited closed unchanged at $37.30 after the company shelved its controversial Browse onshore project and disclosed the cost of the natural gas exploration project would have exceeded $80 billion, twice its early estimate of $45 billion.

“The company would have spent almost the entire value of the company on an uneconomic project,” said Roger Martin, Vice President of corporate affairs.

Westpac dropped 25 cents to $30.62.

Austin Engineering Limited closed unchanged at $3.13 after mining equipment maker received unsolicited takeover offer from Bradken Limited that already owns 21.5% stake in the group.

Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.7% to $30.70 after the bank said David Gonski will replace John Morschel as chairman of the bank in 2014.

Bega Cheese Limited gained 1.6% to $4.42 and the dairy products maker said it will not extend offer for Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. once the offer closes on Friday.

Crown Resorts Ltd slipped 1.7% to $15.80 after the Sri Lankan government approved its $400 million complex along with two similar projects without any explicit permission to operate casinos. Packer''s local partner won casino operation license.

Wotif.com Holdings Limited tumbled 31.8% to $2.85 after the online travel booking services provider forecasted net-profit-after-tax in the first-half between $21.9 million and $22.6 million and said outlook for the fiscal 2014 second-half remains volatile.

UGL Limited dropped 2.3% to $6.67 after the diversified service provider secured a five-year contract to provide maintenance services to Chevron Australia Pty Ltd. The multi-million dollar contract also includes extension options beyond the initial five-year term.

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