Afternoon Report (16:30 AEST)
The selling that featured in the first half of the session continued this afternoon with the ASX 200 continuing to make new lows over the course of the afternoon. Every sector ended in the red with the consumer, materials and utilities sub-indices all shedding more than 1% over the course of the session.
Oil and gas group Santos (STO) announced today that the $19bn PNG LNG project has achieved a "significant milestone" with production of liquefied natural (LNG) gas progressing ahead of schedule. The first cargo is now expected to be shipped to Asian markets before mid-year. STO shares outperformed in a falling market ending up 3 cents or 0.22 per cent at $13.55
Still in the energy sector, shares in Horizon Oil (HZN) fell on news of its plan for an $800 million merger with fellow energy explorer and developer Roc Oil (ROC). The two companies have entered in to a merger implementation deed that would see investors trade their Horizon shares for shares in Roc Oil. The merged company is expected to have a market value of around $800 million, with assets across China, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia and New Zealand. If approved, Horizon shareholders will receive 0.724 Roc Oil shares for every Horizon share. HZN shares ended with a loss of 4 per cent ending at 35.5 cents a loss of 1.5 cents. ROC shares closed at 45 cents a loss of 0.5 cents or 1.1 per cent.
Leighton Holdings (LEI) was another outperformer in a falling market. Leighton Asia has been awarded $1.6 billion contract from the Hong Kong Government's Highways department to build immigration and customs building between Hong Kong and Zhuhai-Macao in a joint venture with Hong Kong based construction company Chun Wo Construction of the building will commence in April and Leighton expects the work to be completed at the end of 2016. LEI shares ended at $19.30, a gain of 5 cents or 0.26 per cent
Haulage operator Asciano (AIO) expects to meet its full year profit forecast thanks to stronger than expected coal volumes. AIO expects low single digit profit growth for the year after a 22% rise in the volume of coal transported in the March quarter to. The improved volumes offset a decline in the volume of grain hauled due to drought in northern NSW and Queensland. AIO ended flat at $5.40
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