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BRIEFS

23 Nov 2012 THE AGE


STEEL

Bluescope buoyed

Bluescope Steel shares surged on Thursday in the wake of bullish broker comment following an investor briefing earlier in the week outlining the growth prospects for its prefabricated steel building unit. Bluescope is targeting annual revenue from the division of $3 billion by fiscal 2015, double the revenue the division posted in 2012. Bluescope shares closed 5? up at 50?.

CHINA

Industry rebounds

China's manufacturing activity grew in November for the first time in 13 months in a further sign of strength in the world's second-largest economy after a marked slowdown. The preliminary purchasing managers' index (PMI) hit 50.4 this month, up from a final 49.5 in October, after 12 consecutive months in negative territory. A reading above 50 indicates growth in the key sector, while one below signals contraction.

PUBLISHING

Phone books move

Printing and publishing business PMP will close its Sydney plant that produces the White Pages and Yellow Pages phone directories. PMP says its Chullora printing plant in Sydney's west will close on June 30 next year because of falling demand for printed phone books. It says most Chullora employees are likely to be made redundant. The Yellow Pages and White Pages work will be done from PMP's printing plant in Moorebank, in Sydney's south-west.

BANKING

Westpac buyback

Westpac has bought back and cancelled $3.37 billion in government-guaranteed debt out of a total of $4.92 billion of the notes originally on issue. The buyback reduces Westpac's refinancing requirements in the 2014 financial year by $2.94 billion and by $434 million in the 2015 financial year. The guaranteed debt was introduced at the height of the financial crisis to allow Australian banks to continue to raise funds on global markets.

MINING

Ausdrill feels pain

Ausdrill has finally confirmed that the slowdown in resource sector spending has caught up with it. It has flagged revenue growth of 20 per cent this financial year with the inclusion of its recent acquisition of Best Tractor Parts, up slightly from the earlier forecast of 15 per cent, but with a slowdown in iron ore sector demand hurting revenues. It also flagged $15 million of one-off costs to be written off, while pointing out it is looking to a stronger second half than the first to help lift earnings.

RETAIL

Myer backs rate cut

An interest rate cut in December will help the non-mining sector and support retailers in the lead-up to Christmas, Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes says. Mr Brookes says Myer is expecting a flat to slightly positive Christmas, and an interest rate cut will give the department store "a bit of a kick" heading into the traditionally busy trading period.

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