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Market Update

Australian Rates are to Remain Low, Shell to Cut Woodside Stake to 4.5%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 10:24 AM ET June 17 2014

5:00 PM Sydney – Australian market indexes opened higher after the June RBA meeting minutes showed low interest rate environment is likely to continue. Automobile sales in May rose on a monthly basis but struggled from a year ago month. Royal Dutch Shell plan to cut its stake in Woodside to 4.5%.

Stocks in Sydney opened higher after the latest RBA minutes of meeting suggested low rate environment to continue but rising violence in Iraq and growing worries of the oil supply disruption weighed on the market sentiment.

The Reserve Bank of Australia said in its latest release focused on the impact of the Federal budget and downplayed the GDP growth data.

The central bank was clear in its statement in the need to keep the neutral stance on interest rates and said that rates could remain low for some time and noted falling export prices for key resource materials.

The Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep rates at a record low of 2.5% and said it is “likely to be appropriate for some time yet.”

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported new car sales in May increased 0.3% followed by 0.1% gain in April but dropped 2% from a year ago month.

Australian dollar dropped to 93.55 U.S. cents and stock trading turnover jumped to 701 million shares worth $4.13 billion.

ASX 200 index fell 11.60 or 0.2% to 5,400.70 and the broader All Ordinaries slid 9.90 to 5,380.70.

Stocks in Review

Ambassador Oil & Gas Ltd surged 12.1% to 37 cents after the U.S.-based Magnum Hunter Resources lifted its offer to 38 cents per share following the revised offer from Drillsearch Energy Ltd of 33.8 cents per share.

Bullabulling Gold Ltd climbed 8.4% to 0.077 cents and the company board rejected Norton’s final and conditional increased offer price to 8 cents per share only if Norton Gold Fields Ltd acquires relevant interest in 30% or more by the end of June.

Woodside Petroleum Limited was halted at $42.85 and the oil and gas explorer said Royal Dutch Shell Plc cuts its stake from 23.1% to about 4.5% for $6.1 billion.

In a separate statement the company reported Shell will reduced its 19% of stake by June 18, as half of the shares or 9.5% will be sold to institutional investors and Woodside plans to buy the 9.5% stake.

But, Shell will continue to hold its remaining stake of 4.5% and agreed not to sell within the next three months.

Watpac Limited gained 1.2% to 83 cents after the property developer secured contract to build student hostels worth $60 million for University of Melbourne.

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