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Market Update

Australian Stocks Rest, Telstra and NBN in Network Deal


Author: Marcus Jacob
ticker.com
Last Update: 7:43 AM ET December 21 2015

4:30 PM Sydney - ASX 200 closed little changed after gains in mining and finance offset losses in healthcare. Telstra moved closer to signing a $1.5 billion deal with NBN. James Packer of Crown Resorts resigned. Westfield completed the sale of five shopping malls for about $1.1 billion.

The Australian market index closed nearly flat after changing direction several times during Monday trading session.

A rebound in iron ore prices provided a boost to mining stocks offsetting losses in the healthcare sector.

Iron ore climbed back above $US40 per ton, the price of aluminium jumped 1%, and zinc advanced 0.9%.

BHP Billiton gained 1.5% to $17.12, while Fortescue Metals jumped 2.6% to $1.77.

Healthcare stocks continued to decline after the federal government announced funding cuts to the sector in its mid-year budget update last week.

James Packer of Crown Resorts resigned as chairman from the board. Evolution Mining signed an agreement with SRG Limited for $150 million.

The Australian dollar slipped to 71.32 U.S. cents, while stock trading turnover was flat at 1.2 billion shares worth $8.1 billion.

At the market close, the ASX 200 Index edged up 2.30 to 5,109 and the broader All Ordinaries Index added 1.30 to 5,157.80.

In commodities trading, gold added US$3 to US$1,067 an ounce and Brent crude future for immediate month delivery slid 43 cents to US$36.45 a barrel, a new seven-year low.

IPO

Wonhe Multimedia Commerce Limited jumped 5% to 21 cents after the hardware and software services provider priced its stock at 20 cents.

The company opened at 20 cents and closed at 21 cents.

Australian Stock Movers

Crown Resorts Ltd soared 4.1% to $12.08 after the casinos operator said that its chairman and largest shareholder, James Packer, resigned from the board but will remain co-chairman of Crown''s joint ventures.

Evolution Mining fell 1.8% to $1.38 after the mining company signed an agreement to extend its contract with SRG Limited for drilling and blasting operations at its Mt Rawdon mine worth about $150 million.

The GPT Group fell 0.6% to $4.76 after the retail property developer sold Dandenong Plaza in Victoria to Armada Funds Management for $197 million.

The transaction is expected to close on February 29, 2016.

Telstra Corporation Ltd slid 0.4% to $5.44 after the communication services provider secured several contracts worth $280 million with the National Broadband Network for the management of NBN’s copper phone line network over the next four years.

More importantly, the two companies are expected to sign a deal worth between $1.5 billion and $1.8 billion for the design, construction, and expansion of NBN’s hybrid fibre-coaxial cable network.

Westfield Corp Ltd decreased 1.2% to $9.58 after the shopping centres and mall operator completed the sale of five U.S.-based shopping malls for about $1.1 billion.

The company will continue to divest non-core assets to reduce debt.

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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