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Market Update

BHP Follows Rio and Cuts Capex, Qantas and Union in Job Cut Talks

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 9:31 AM ET December 10 2013

4:30 PM Sydney – Australian miners continued to cut capital spending and BHP announced a 25% cut in capital spending plan. Qantas and unions head for a new round of job cut discussion. Recall Holdings began trading after separating from Brambles.

Australian stocks struggled to hold early advances in the day and the dollar turned lower.

Banks continued to lend for home loans, according to the latest data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

The mortgage loans approved in October increased 1% to 52,305 and total value of all home financed increased 4.1% to $26.5 billion.

Australian dollar lowered to 91.05 U.S. cents. Stock trading turnover jumped to 890 million shares worth $5 billion.

The ASX 200 index slid 0.80 to close at 5,143.60 and the broader All Ordinaries fell 2.20 to 5,146.20.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto slipped 36 cents to $65.17.

BHP rose 5 cents to $36.82 and the mining company said it plans to cut spending by 25% or to almost $15 billion in the current fiscal year and focus on its key operations.

BHP spent $21.7 billion in 2012 on projects from iron-ore deposits in Pilbara region of Australia to deep-sea oil-and-gas fields in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.

Last week, the second largest miner Rio Tinto also unveiled large spending cuts and a plan to cut capital expenditure by 2015.

Chief Executive Office Andrew Mackenzie said in an investor briefing at Houston “we will continue to build on the $2.7 billion reduction in controllable cash costs delivered in the 2013 financial year”.

The miner has budgeted capital expenditure of $16.2 billion in the current financial year.

Mackenzie added that the company is set to produce between 210 million and 220 million tons of iron ore and may increase production by additional 50 million ton in fiscal 2014.

Woodside Petroleum Limited gained 15 cents to $37.57 and lowered production target for 2013 and reduced investment expenditure in fiscal 2013 to $1.1 billion from the earlier guidance of $2.3 billion.

The company also deferred spending on its Leviathan project in Israel in the first-half of 2014 till the nation finalize the tax policy for gas export projects.

Westpac increased 10 cents to $31.19.

Billabong International Limited surged 18.5% to 38.5 cents after shareholders of the surf-ware and sports apparel retailer rejected a plan by a key shareholder to remove several directors including chairman and restrict company’s ability to enter into new lending arrangements and sell its key assets.

U.S.-based investment firm Coastal Capital proposed to replace several board members including the chairman Ian Pollard and directors Howard Mowlem and Sally Pitkin.

Echo Entertainment Group Ltd dropped 2.1% to $2.35 after the leisure and entertainment service provider restructure its lending arrangements by reduction of syndicated revolving facility of $150 million and the establishment of $150 million bridge facility.

Recall Holdings Ltd soared 8.4% to $4.50 after the logistics company started trading for the first time and the stock opened at $4.15. Brambles Limited received shareholder and Federal Court’s demerger approval for Recall last week.

Seven Group Holdings Ltd rose 0.8% to $7.09 after the diversified operating and investment company said it agree to acquire Caterpillar''s mining product distribution and support business in provinces of north-east China in a deal worth $130 million.

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