Evening Report (17:00 AEST)
The ASX 200 remained under pressure over the course of the afternoon, although there were some signs of resilience. The index recovered from session lows when it was down by about 64 points. At that level the index was at 5378, marking an area of support that has been a feature of recent week. Buyers defended the level successfully and the market traded higher although buyers were reluctant to take the bourse substantially beyond the 5400 mark. Investor interest was respectable with healthy levels of exchange taking place over the course of the day. By the end of the day more than $4.5bln in shares were transacted.
Profit downgrades and reworking investor expectations have been par for the course in recent weeks; that theme continued on Wednesday. Coal haulage operator Aurizon (AZJ.AU) announced further write downs as the rail operator trims spending . Aurizon expects write downs and costs linked to voluntary redundancies to be as much as $160 million higher than earlier estimated, bringing the total number to as much as $382 million. On the matter of Aurizon and China´s Baosteel bidding for Aquila Resources (AQA), AZJ said there was no intention to improve the current bid of $3.40 per share. AZJ ended with a loss of 4 cents or 0.8%. At the same Aquila co-founder Charles Bass, who holds a 10.7 per cent stake in AQA indicated his intention act on the offer in early July. Additionally AQA chairman Tony Poli, who holds 28.9 per cent stake, earlier indicated his intention to accept the offer. AQA shares lost 1 cent to close at $3.37
In the energy space attention turned to the proposed merger between Roc Oil (ROC) and Horizon Oil (HZN). The transaction between the two groups could lead to an operation that has interests in China, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Myanmar, Australia and New Zealand. Although the outcome is less certain after ROC announced that an unidentified third party had made an approach to the group. Horizon said it was aware that Roc had received an indicative, non-binding and confidential approach by a third party making the following statement to the ASX; ´´At this time, Horizon Oil does not have any further information in relation to the identity of the other party, the material details of the approach or whether discussions are continuing between Roc Oil and the third party,´´ ROC shares ended with a gain of 7% closing at 60 cents.
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