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Australian employment staged a surprisingly strong revival in June while the jobless rate ticked down toward three-decade lows, keeping alive the risk that a drum-tight labour market could fuel inflationary pressures.
Asian markets pared back gains Wednesday, on news that Iran has test-fired missiles. The report, which came in the afternoon, prompted many investors to lock in profits, sending South Korea down almost 1% and taking back most of the Nikkei's earlier gains.
A key measure of Australian consumer confidence fell to 16-year lows in July as record petrol prices and a sliding share market hurt family finances, in just the latest sign of spreading economic weakness.
Insurance Australia Group, Australia's top home and car insurer, announced a partial exit from its struggling UK operations, taking a charge of $333 million in fiscal 2008.
Asian markets took a beating Tuesday, weighed by the financial sector after sharp declines in shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the U.S. on funding concerns reminded investors about the fragility of global credit markets.
Australian business conditions deteriorated sharply in June as profits and sales fell from the previous month, providing further evidence the economy was cooling and relieving some of the pressure for more rate hikes.
Asian markets ended mixed Monday, with Sydney down 1.6 percent while Shanghai jumped 4.6 percent. However, sentiment remained weak after credit concerns pushed European indexes lower. The market lacked direction overall as investors waited for the U.S. to reopen after the Independence Day long holiday weekend.
BHP Billiton has secured price rises for its iron ore shipments to China similar to the near-doubling of prices won by rival Rio Tinto, Chinese industry officials familiar with the agreement told Reuters on Friday.
Asian markets painted a mixed picture Friday, with exporters moving higher on a stronger U.S. dollar while record high oil prices weighed on oil distributors and airliners. Trade was cautious with U.S. markets closed for the Independence Day holiday.
Origin Energy, an Australian energy producer and retailer, advised shareholders to reject a $13.1 billion bid from British gas company BG Group and reiterated its coal seam gas reserves position.
Asian markets pared back losses, but were still closed in the red Thursday. Oil set fresh record highs and fears that stagflation will continue to hurt earnings and consumer spending dogged investors.
Australia's trade deficit came in much as expected in May, but April's shortfall was revised to show the first surplus since 2002 thanks to huge price increases for the country's iron ore exports.
Most Asian markets stayed firmly in negative territory Wednesday, led by Seoul's 2.5 percent slide as persistently high oil prices and their impact on economies remained the key theme keeping investors worried.
Australia's Westpac Banking Corp may need to add cash to save its estimated A$14 billion ($13.6 billion) all-stock takeover of St George Bank as a sharp slide in Westpac sharessparks unrest among the smaller bank's investors.
Australian retail sales rose well past expectations in May, pointing to consumer resilience in the face of higher living costs and challenging the official view that interest rates were high enough to curb domestic demand.
Just Group, an Australian clothes retailer, cut its earnings forecast for the 2008 financial year by as much as 12.6%, hit by sluggish consumer demand, but said it still rejected a takeover bid from billionaire Solomon Lew.
Asian markets were weaker Tuesday as investors continued to fret about the economic impact of high oil prices. Japan, South Korea and Australia all finished lower.
Australia's central bank held interest rates steady at a decade high on Tuesday, citing growing evidence that past hikes were working to cool demand and curb inflation in the long run.
Asian markets were mostly lower Monday, with Japan and Australia both closing down. Skyrocketing oil prices remained the key theme as investors worried over the impact of record oil prices on the health of the global economy.
Global steel giants ArcelorMittal and POSCO have separately bought stakes in Macarthur Coal, raising the possibility of a bidding war for the Australian mining company as steelmakers rush to secure stable coal supplies.