Giving you all the latest in Stock Market Information as it happens

Month: August 2010

Market Closed Lower Banks Miners Down

The Australian share market has closed the session lower today as investors fled riskier assets on uncertainty surrounding the global economic recovery, in particular declines in the major banks and miners weighed heavily on the market.

The S&P/ASX 200 Index is down 49 points to finish at 4,404. And on the futures market, the SPI200 is down 61 points.

To company news around this afternoon: Oil and gas producer Cooper Energy Ltd (ASX:COE) has rebounded from a loss last year to post a profit of $1.2 million for the twelve months to June 30. Production sales for the year dipped to 465,012 barrels of oil down from 487,254 barrels of oil last year. Sales revenue came to $40 million, down from $42 million the year before. Cooper Energy says the result was largely impacted by international exploration write-offs, for which there is no Australian taxation allowance. Shares in Cooper Energy closed 1.32% higher at $0.385.

In other news, AMP Ltd (ASX:AMP) CEO Craig Dunn hasn’t given up hope of acquiring AXA Asia Pacific Holdings Ltd (ASX:AXA). According to a report in The Australian, Mr Dunn considers IOOF, who has offered to buy AXA’s North platform from NAB, as too small to truly compete in the retail investment market. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission blocked NAB’s offer for AXA Asia Pacific on the grounds it would lessen competition amongst retail fund providers. In an effort to pacify the ACCC, NAB said it would offload the asset to a suitable buyer. The paper reports Mr Dunn saying he is still keen for a merger between AMP and AXA, saying it would create a company of sufficient size to compete with the four major banks in wealth management. The ACCC is to deliver its final decision on September 9. Shares in AMP closed 0.98% weaker at $5.04.

Also making news: ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) executive Jenny Fagg has stepped down from her role as head of the bank’s New Zealand arm, to help aid her recovery from breast cancer. According to reports Ms Fagg is one of Australia’s highest-ranked female executives and would have been a strong candidate for CEO should the opportunity have arisen.

Halcygen Pharmaceuticals Ltd (ASX:HGN) says it expects underlying earnings in fiscal 2011 to be at least equal to or greater than its fiscal 2010 result of $3.25 million.

Qantas Airways Ltd (ASX:QAN) has reported an increase in July passenger numbers, up 9.1 per cent on July last year.

And Southern Cross Media Group (ASX:SXL) has reported a narrower loss of $82.7 million compared to last year, and says despite the political uncertainty, the group remains cautiously optimistic.

In the best and worst performers: Majority of sectors closed in the red today, the best performing sector was the Health Care sector, with the index closing 50 points higher at 8,192. The worst performing sector was the materials sector with the index down 151 points to close at 11,698.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ ASX200 was Southern Cross Media Group share price as mentioned before. Shares in Ansell and Linc Energy also closed higher.

The worst performing stock was iSoft, shares closed 15.15% lower at $0.14. The company today reported a full year loss and the resignation of its CEO. Shares in Lynas Corp and Carnarvon Petroleum also closed weaker today.

In commodities, gold is trading at $1233 US an ounce. Light crude is down $1 at $73.70 US a barrel.

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PepinNini Minerals Drilling Commences in Queensland

PepinNini Minerals Limited has commenced a reverse circulation (RC) drilling program at its Forsayth and Percyville Projects in north Queensland.

Twenty eight boreholes are planned to investigate high grade gold and copper mineralisation identified in surface samples from EPM15547 ‘The Return’ and over portions of EPM15440 ‘Percyville’. The drilling program is estimated to take one month to complete and the Company will make further announcements when drilling results become available.

EPM 15547 – The Return (Forsayth Project) Seventeen RC bore holes are planned to test five target areas within the Forsayth Project. The targets have been defined using extensive rock chip sampling, geological mapping and detailed helicopter magnetics undertaken by the Company since 2008. Several new vein systems and potentially significant structural environments were identified as a consequence of this work.

Rock chip sampling returned a range of gold value from 0.1 g/t (country rock) up to 1710 g/t (55 oz/t). The majority (~80%) of the samples returned anomalous gold (> 1g/t) with almost half of those samples containing significant gold values in excess of 10g/t. Significant silver grades of up to 642 g/t (20 oz/t) were also identified. The detailed heli-magnetic survey flown across the tenement area during 2009 has assisted the recognition of structural targets favourable to mineralisation. The magnetic data greatly augmented detailed field mapping of the structures associated with the high grade gold occurrences.

The mapping, which was completed in 2009, has accurately located corridors of well defined mineralised lodes and has identified several zones of stock work veining which may have potential for an open pit resource. EPM 15440 – Percyville (Percyville Project) Two priority gold-copper prospect areas (Union & Spring Valley) have been identified within the Percyville Project (EPM15440) from rock chip and soil sampling programs undertaken by the Company during 2008 and 2009.

Gold grades of up to 65g/t and copper grades of up to 20.3% have previously been reported for The Union Prospect. At the Spring Valley Prospects gold grades of up to 335 g/t and copper grades of up to 32.8% have been reported. Detailed heli-magnetic surveying and geological field mapping across each of these areas during 2009 has also been used to locate and refine drill targets. Five RC boreholes will be drilled to test three targets within the Union Area and six boreholes will be drilled to test five targets within the Spring Valley Area.

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Market Lower at Midday

The local share market is lower at midday following a negative lead from Wall St overnight with the banks and miners falling on concern for the health of the global economic recovery.

The S&P/ASX200 index is down 25 points at 4,427 and on the futures market, the SPI200 is down 32.

In local economic news: The ABS says retail sales rose 0.7% in July. Expectations were for a 0.4% rise. The Bureau of Statistics also reported a 1.3% rise in government spending in the second quarter, a 2.3% jump in building approvals for the month of July, and that Australia had an account deficit of $5.64 billion in the second quarter. In other economic news, the RBA says private credit rose 0.1% in July.

To company news: Mining giant BHP Billiton Ltd (ASX:BHP) has hosed down speculation that it will offload some of Potash Corp’s assets if its $38.6 billion hostile bid for the company is successful. Reports are circulating that the miner may look to divest assets that are not key to its strategy of becoming a dominating force in the global potash industry. Reuters reports that Canadian fertilizer maker Agrium could be a potential buyer, having already expressed its interest in Potash Corp’s nitrogen and phosphate assets. Shares in BHP Billiton fell 1.56% to $37.28.

Medical device maker Unilife Medical Solutions Ltd (ASX:UNS) has posted a wider loss for fiscal 2010 compared to last year on a fall in revenue and costs relating to its move to the US. For the 12 months to June 30, 2010, the company reported a net loss of US$29.75 million compared to US$517,000 in fiscal 2009. Revenue of US$11.4 million was down 43 per cent on last year’s result of US$19.98 million. The company, who redomiciled to the US in January this year, says the increase in its net loss was also due to significantly higher payroll and related costs during the year after boosting its workforce at its Lewisberry, Pennsylvania facility. Shares in Unilife Medical Solutions dropped 3.92% to $0.98.

Turning now to market indices: The best performing sector at midday is the Health Care sector, with the index up 27 points to 8,169. Shares in Ansell are up 2.13% to $13.45. Shares in Ramsay Health Care and CSL also higher.

The worst performing sector at midday is the Materials sector, with the index down 104 points to 11,746. Shares in Mirabela Nickel dropped 3.97% to $1.695. Shares in Equinox Minerals and Mt Gibson Iron also lower at midday.

To New Zealand now and the NZSX50 is 7 points lower. Taking a look at the top 4 stocks by turnover: At the top of the list is Telecom of New Zealand with stock steady at $2.05 followed by ANZ, Telstra, and Fletcher Building.

To gold and the dollar: Gold is trading at $1237 US an ounce and the Aussie dollar is trading at 89.33 US cents.

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Telecom Advise Change to NZX 4th Quarter Dividend Ex Date

Telecom previously advised that the Ex Date for its 4th quarter dividend on the NZX was 6 September 2010. NZX is currently in the process of implementing a new settlement system and has consequently advised that the Ex Date for Telecom’s 4th quarter dividend will now be 1 September 2010.

All other dividend dates remain unchanged as follows: “Ex” dividend dates New Zealand Stock Exchange 1 Sep 2010 (previously 6 Sep 2010) Australia Stock Exchange 30 August 2010 New York Stock Exchange 31 August 2010 Books closing dates New Zealand, Australia Stock Exchanges 3 September 2010 New York Stock Exchange 2 September 2010 Payment dates New Zealand, Australia 17 September 2010 New York 24 September 2010

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ANZ National Chief Executive Steps Down

ANZ today announced that Jenny Fagg will step down as Chief Executive of ANZ National Bank in New Zealand and that Steven Fyfe, currently Deputy Chief Executive, will assume the role of Acting Chief Executive effective Thursday, 2 September.

During her leave of absence from the ANZ Group, Ms Fagg will undergo treatment for cancer initially in New Zealand and then in Australia.

Sir Dryden Spring, Chairman of ANZ National Bank said: “Jenny has done an extraordinary job as Chief Executive over the past two years. The decision to step down has been a difficult one however her recovery and her family are her priorities and ours. “Jenny is much loved in New Zealand and in the wider ANZ Group, and the Board and all of our staff wish her a speedy recovery,” Sir Dryden said.

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PNX: Mountain of Light Production Commenced

Mountain of Light Project Recommissioned Phoenix Copper Limited (Phoenix Copper or Company) has produced its first copper product – ahead of schedule, from the refurbished and redesigned Mountain of Light copper project near Leigh Creek in South Australia.

Significant process and heap leach re-design has been completed and a high grade copper concentrate – “copper cement” – has been produced from remnant ores in reconstructed stockpiles. The copper cement is subject to an off-take agreement with Adchem (Australia) Pty Ltd; a company based in Burra and adjacent to Phoenix Copper’s exploration base for its Spalding/Burra tenements. The off-take agreement is for up to 300 tonnes per month of copper contained in product.

Executive management from Adchem recently inspected the refurbished site and discussed the proposed production/revenue schedule and future expansion plans. The initial output is the beginning of a rapid ramp up of production, during September and October, which is forecast to consolidate an initial objective of 4 tonnes of contained copper per day by end-December.

Once achieved, further development is planned to determine the optimised capacity of the project. Previous studies had indicated an optimum output of approximately 5 tonnes per day. Reinstatement of grade controls within the Rossman pit and pit optimisation has been completed with a resumption in mining planned for September.

Meanwhile, copper continues to be recovered from the reconstructed low grade heaps that were excluded from consideration in the original feasibility study. Once copper leaching from these heaps has been exhausted, fresh higher grade ores will be placed on top of the piles and will contribute to the ramp up of production in late-September and October achieving “steady-state” performance of the processing plant.

Recruiting has also commenced for a small but experienced workforce to ensure consistent quality and quantities of product from a continuous process. The process to obtain a MARP for development of another two deposits on a second mining lease is also under way. This is an important step towards bringing these resources on stream to concurrently supply the Company’s heap leach operation at Mountain of Light, thereby maximising cashflow for the project and, in turn, providing funds for continued exploration.

Phoenix Copper is pleased to announce the appointment of Nick Harding as the Company’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The Board of Phoenix Copper view Nick’s appointment as a vital step to ensuring the success of the Company following completion of its purchase of all of the shares in the capital of Leigh Creek Copper Mine Pty Ltd. The appointment of a CFO will assist the Company’s transition from being solely a Minerals Exploration Company, to a copper-producing Mining and Exploration Company, with the additional obligations and opportunities that this transformation presents. Nick has previously been involved with Phoenix Copper for twelve months as an external contractor. Nick is a qualified Accountant with a BA and Graduate Diploma in this field. He is a fellow of both the CPA and Finsia and has a Graduate Diploma in both Applied Finance and Investment and Corporate Governance. Nick has 25 years experience within the Resources Industry, including 14 years at WMC Resources, 5 spent as Chief Finance Manager for Olympic Dam Operations. Nick also spent 8 years at Normandy Mining (now Newmont Australia) where he worked as the General Manager Operations Finance and also as the General Manager Planning and Analysis. During this time Nick was responsible for the accounting and finance needs of up to 14 operating Mine sites within Australia and off-shore. Nick is currently the Principal of Twentyfour Carat Pty Ltd, a company that provides financial, company secretarial and administrative services. Since 2008 he has also, on a part-time basis, been CFO and Company Secretary for Southern Gold Limited. Nick joins the team at Phoenix Copper as a proven performer with all the supporting attributes required to build and maintain the Company’s profile as a successful copper producer and explorer.

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Finders Fully Subscribed Capital Raising

Finders Resources (FND) (“Company” or “Finders”) is pleased to announce it has received firm commitments from investors for a share placement to raise gross proceeds of AUD$20.95 million.

Under the offer approximately 75 million new ordinary shares will be issued at A$0.28 per share (“Placement”). The Placement was managed by Western Australian based stockbroker Blackswan Equities Limited (“Blackswan”). The Placement will be made in two tranches: Tranche 1 comprising the placement of 28.07 million shares to raise $7.86 million, to be issued immediately under the Company’s available 15% capacity under Australian Securities Exchange Limited (ASX) Listing Rule 7.1, and Tranche 2 comprising the placement of 46.75 million shares to raise $13.09 million, subject to shareholder approval at a general meeting to be held on or around Thursday, 30 September 2010.

Funds raised will be applied to the near term development of the Wetar Copper project, capital equipment purchases, payment of environmental bonds, relocating the Whim Creek plant from Australia and completion of a revised capital estimate for the planned expansion to 23,000 tpa copper cathode.

Russell Fountain, Finders Chairman, said: “I welcome the strong support investors have shown Finders through this Placement. There was strong demand overall. We are very pleased with the support we received from our existing cornerstone shareholders, Resource Capital Funds, Taurus Funds Management, Acorn Capital and Straits Resources.

Also pleasing is the fact that through Blackswan we have been joined by several new institutional investors and a strong spread of sophisticated investors. “Finders is now ready to make the crucial step into production following years of study, implementation and planning. We have proven and de‐risked the Wetar operation with our successful demonstration plant which has been operating for more than a year. “On completion of the Placement we will focus on expanding the demonstration plant to 7ktpa capacity of copper cathode once permitting is finalised. “Finders is one of very few emerging copper players with real potential to become producers for Australian investors. The robust economics underpinning our Wetar project, combined with the experience of our management and the support of the local Indonesian community auger well for a healthy and profitable future for the Company,” Mr Fountain said.

The Company is also targeting completion of a scoping study for the gold and silver deposits at its Ojolali gold‐silver project in Sumatra.

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Hawkley’s Ukraine Well Test Exceeds Expectations

Hawkley Oil & Gas Limited (HOG) is pleased to announce official results from the open hole testing at its Sorochynska Well #201 in Ukraine indicate that it is expected to flow at rates even better than those initially forecast.

Hawkley’s growing confidence in the success of the well, located in the Dnieper Donets Basin, stems from the results of the test, which flowed gas at 4.28 million cubic feet of gas per day and 140 barrels of condensate, run through a 10mm choke. Hydrocarbon content was 96.7 per cent of the gas, with 86 per cent methane, no hydrogen sulphide, very low nitrogen content and low carbon dioxide. The gas bearing zone is permeable and gas saturated.

The company intends to produce the well at the highest possible sustainable production rates. Indications point to the reserves being higher than those originally anticipated. The reserves will be re‐evaluated as soon as a commercial test has been run. Current net gas prices (excluding VAT) in Ukraine are capped at just over US$7 per thousand cubic feet while net condensate prices are in the region of $72 per barrel.

The Company expects to complete logging, casing, cementing, perforating and testing within the next 3‐4 weeks.

Hawkley Oil & Gas Chief Executive Richard Reavley said the results to date were better than the Company had expected. “These initial results indicate that we have a commercial well which will generate strong cashflow,” Mr Reavley said. ‘’The company is aiming for long term stable production of this high quality gas to provide a solid foundation on which to build a major exploration and production company.” Hawkley continues to assess potential asset acquisitions and other deals in the region that will add both production and significant reserves to its current portfolio and create wealth for shareholders

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Market May Open Lower After Weak Wall St

The Australian share market may open lower today, after a low volume session on Wall St closed the day weaker. The slower rate of US economic recovery was highlighted by mixed economic reports, with investors remaining cautious ahead of key monthly jobs data out later this week.

In US economic news: A government report revealed personal income increased 0.2% in July, as expected, and while consumer spending grew 0.4%, above expectations, personal savings declined compared to the month before.

On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 141 points lower at 10,010. The S&P 500 Index is down 16 points to 1,049 and the NASDAQ is down 34 at 2,120.

European stocks were lower; London’s FTSE was closed, Paris is down 20 and Frankfurt down 39.

Asian markets were higher: Hong Kong’s Hang Seng up 140 points on Monday, Tokyo’s Nikkei up 158 points and China’s Shanghai Composite up 42 points.

The Australian share market finished higher on Monday. The S&P/ASX 200 Index closed 83 points higher to 4,453 and on the futures market the SPI200 is down 54 points.

Turning to currencies and the Aussie Dollar at 7:40AM was buying 89.18 US cents, 57.68 Pence Sterling, 75.46 Yen and 70.42 Euro cents.

In local economic news: The RBA is expected to release financial aggregates data for July, and the ABS is expected to release data on retail trade for July, building approvals for July, government spending for the June quarter and the balance of payments and international investment position.

In business news: Shares in Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX:RIO) closed 2.47% higher at just over $71.00 on Monday. Rio has announced a US$1.6 billion investment to develop the Hope Downs 4 iron ore project in Western Australia, to link with its existing rail, power and port infrastructure in the Pilbara. Gina Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting will form the joint venture project that will produce an annual rate of 15 million tonnes of iron ore, with first production expected in 2013. Rio Tinto reported a profit of $5.4 billion for the 2009 calendar year.

Shares in Newcrest Mining Ltd (ASX:NCM) closed 2.07% up to just over $36.00 on Monday. Newcrest mining says it has taken control of Lihir Gold Ltd (ASX:LGL), following shareholder and overseas regulatory approval. The miner advises the combined group will form the fourth largest gold company in the world by market capitalisation. Newcrest Mining reported a profit of $248.1 million for year to 30 June.

To ex-dividends: There are 10 companies going ex-dividend today, among them Ansell with a 17.5 cent unfranked dividend, iiNet with a 6 cent fully franked dividend, Spotless Group with a 6 cent 60% franked dividend and Treasury Group with a 14 cent fully franked dividend.

Turning to commodities: The price of gold is up $1.50 to US$1237, silver is steady at $19.04, copper is up $0.05 at $3.41, and the price of oil is down $0.47 to US$74.70 a barrel for October light crude in New York.

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