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Market Update

China Housing Weakness Drags Australian Stocks, Transfield Soars 25%

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 9:34 AM ET February 24 2014

5:00 PM Sydney – Australian market indexes turned lower in the afternoon trading to close flat after China added more restriction on housing market lending. Transfield Services soared 25% after the company won $1.2 billion contract to build an immigration processing center on Nauru and Manus Islands.

Australian markets traded in the positive zone most of the session but market indexes trimmed gains and closed nearly flat after China reported a cut in housing sector lending.

The latest housing data from National Bureau of Statistics in China showed a weakness in home prices in first-tier cities in China and developers face supply outstripping the demand.

The news dragged Shanghai market indexes down as much as 2.5% and Hong Kong index eased 0.8%.

The ASX 200 index rose 1.50 to 5,440.20 and the broader All Ordinaries closed inched up at 0.70 to 5,450.10.

Stocks in Review

Rio Tinto dropped 68 cents to $69.55 after the U.K.-based The Crown Estate said it has acquired 4,500 acre Alcan Farms agricultural land portfolio from Rio Tinto in Northumberland.

BHP rose 21 cents to $39.38. Woodside Petroleum Limited declined $1.18 to $37.99.

Westpac increased 26 cents to $33.57.

BlueScope Steel Limited surged 7.3% to $6.30 after the steel producer reported revenue in the first-half ending in December jumped 8% to $3.98 billion, from $3.70 billion a year ago period.

Net in the period swung to a profit of $3.7 million compared to a loss of $23.8 million a year earlier.

The steel producer said underlying profit in the half-year was $49.1 million and expects about the same in the second half.

Caltex Australia Limited jumped 2.2% to $20.94 after the oil refiner and distributor said revenue in the year ending in December climbed 4.7% to $24.7 billion from $23.6 billion a year earlier.

Net profit in the year surged $528.8 million compared to $57.6 million a year ago and basic earnings per share soared to $1.96 from 21 cents a year ago.

Caltex agreed to acquire the Scott''s Fuel Divisions for a total outlay of approximately $95 million including the Scott’s Agencies and Sabadin Petroleum.

NIB Holdings Limited decreased 0.8% to $2.56 and the insurance company said its first-half net profit increased 9% to $39.7 million.

The company said 20% increase in premium and 9% increase in underwriting were the drivers of profit gains.

Santos Limited rose 0.6% to $13.67 after the oil and gas producer reported sales revenue in the year ending in December climbed 12% to $3.60 billion from $3.22 billion a year ago.

Net profit in the year fell 1% to $516 million compared to $519 million and basic earnings per share slid 2% to 53.3 cents from 54.4 cents a year earlier.

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