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ASX Profit Up 2.7%, 2009 Outlook Cautious

ASX, Asia-Pacific's second-largest listed stock exchange, posted a 2.7 percent rise in second-half net profit, and joined its Hong Kong and Singapore rivals in predicting a challenging year ahead on weaker trading volumes and a drop in capital raisings.

A man uses his mobile phone in front of electronic stock boards at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX Ltd.) headquarters in Sydney, Australia.
Ian Waldie | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A man uses his mobile phone in front of electronic stock boards at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX Ltd.) headquarters in Sydney, Australia.

Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing, Asia's largest listed bourse operator, the previous day reported a 6 percent drop in quarterly earnings, with weaker trading volumes and investment income signaling a tough second half.

Last week, Singapore Exchange reported a near-halving of its quarterly earnings as stock trading volumes fell, and warned that the outlook for markets remained volatile.

Asian stocks, as measured by the MSCI Asia excluding Japan index, have fallen 21 percent in three months through Wednesday, curtailing interest in share trading after a stellar 2007.

The value of initial public offerings in Asia ex-Japan fell 42 percent to $22.8 billion in January-June, according to Thomson Reuters data, denting earnings at bourses that depend on transaction fees to drive revenue.

For the year to end-June, average ASX daily trading turnover rose 21 percent, down from 36 percent growth in the previous year, while total capital raised fell by a fifth to A$62 billion.

ASX also faces intensifying competition as the Australian government reviews applications from companies such as AXE ECN, a joint venture including the New Zealand Stock Exchange, and European platform Chi-X to provide trading and settlement services.

ASX said net profit for the six months to June 30 was A$178.5 million ($156.6 million) versus A$173.8 million a year ago.

Full-year net profit was A$365.95 million, versus A$313.1 million a year ago and just above an average forecast for A$363 million on Reuters Estimates.

ASX said its outlook for the group's 2009 performance was one of cautious optimism, and that its performance for the year would be linked to the duration of ongoing instability in global credit markets and the outlook for domestic economic growth and interest rate volatility.

ASX shares have dropped more than 42 percent this year, almost double the fall on the benchmark index.