Evening Report (17:00 AEST)
Sellers returned to the ASX on Thursday having been absent in any meaningful fashion for 7 sessions. Bulk miners were the weak spot after the price of iron ore continued to fall in the last day to the lowest levels seen in 2 years;around $US 97.00 per tonne levels. Telecoms were the best improved group in a falling market. Telstra shares rose by four cents or 0.25 per cent, although recent commentary from the telco which included talk of offshore expansion plans was met with not great cheer by investors.
Toll Holdings (TOL) stood out with a gain of 4 per cent after the freight and courier company said it expects to save up to $12 million each year by streamlining its business structure. TOL plans to reduce its structure from six divisions to five and expects the restructure to deliver annual savings of between $10 million and $12 million from next financial year with the costs the rationalisation to be offset by one-off gains.
The vote to split of Westfield´s Australasian and the international assets into separate entities appears to be facing stiff headwinds. Westfield Group (WDC) wants to merge its Australian and New Zealand business with those of the separately listed Westfield Retail Trust (WRT) to create a new group called Scentre. The international business, which includes malls in Britain and the US will become Westfield Corporation. 98 per cent of Westfield Group investors approved the deal at a meeting Thursday. WRT investors were underwhelmed in a separate vote in the afternoon. 75 per cent of WRT investors are needed to get approval for the transaction. 74 per cent of WRT proxy votes cast against the merger of the Australasian businesses with WRT meaning the restructure plan is unlikely to succeed. WDC and WRT were in a trading halt today.
In currency trade the Aussie dollar was well supported today following the first quarter business investment or CAPEX survey. The Aussie dollar initially dipped on the weaker than expected quarterly change, which fell by 4.2% against a 1.5% expected decline. The currency quickly reversed course on the back of the better than expected 2nd estimate for 2014/ 15 capital spending plans. At $137.1bn, Australian CAPEX plans for 2014/15 were well above consensus expectations of $127.8bn. The non mining side provided most of the upward surprise. This suggests the transition of the Australian economy from mining investment to non- mining investment is occurring smoothly.
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