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Takeover talk fails to inspire Australian market

The Australian market retreated on Thursday, but in a barely noticeable manner; the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 (INDEXASX: XJO) slipped 5.1 points to 7,173, while the broader All Ordinaries (INDEXASX: XAO) index lost 2 points, to 7,384.

Financial services house Perpetual Ltd (ASX: PPT) jumped $1.59, or 6.7 per cent, to $25.35 after the firm formally rejected a $3 billion buyout proposal from investment conglomerate Washington H Sl Pttnsn nd Cmpny Ltd (ASX: SOL) to break up the funds business. Perpetual said the unsolicited offer “materially undervalues” the company’s various businesses. As for the suitor, Washington H. Soul Pattinson lost 88 cents, or 2.6 per cent, to $33.04.

Perpetual share price

In other takeover news – at this stage, still only strengthening rumour – the market is contemplating an $80 billion merger between oil and gas heavyweights Santos Ltd (ASX: STO) and Woodside Energy Group Ltd (ASX: WDS).

The media is now reporting that discussions are definitely underway, and the companies confirmed that this morning. A merger of Woodside and Santos would create a globally relevant LNG player. But investors are sitting on the fence: on Thursday Woodside appreciated 13 cents, to $29.97, while Santos added 5 cents, to $6.83.

Momentum in the miners

In the big miners, BHP Group Ltd (ASX: BHP) moved 19 cents, or 0.4 per cent, higher to $47.42; Rio Tinto Ltd (ASX: RIO) lifted $1.31, or 1 per cent, to $127.76; and Fortescue Ltd (ASX: FMG) was up 40 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to $25.48.

BHP share price

Lithium producer Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) rose 17 cents, or 5 per cent, to $3.58; fellow producer Allkem Ltd (ASX: AKE) firmed 23 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $8.78; IGO Ltd (ASX: IGO), which mines nickel as well as lithium, appreciated 21 cents, or 2.7 per cent, to $8.03; and Mineral Resources Ltd (ASX: MIN), which produces iron ore and lithium, gained $1.01, or 1.7 per cent, to $60.73. In coal, Whitehaven Coal Ltd (ASX: WHC) advanced 7 cents, or 1 per cent, to $7.16.

Aluminium and alumina producer Alumina Limited (ASX: AWC) gained 3 cents, or 3.9 per cent, to 81 cents. Copper miner Sandfire Resources Ltd (ASX: SFR) rose 5 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $6.38; and mineral sands producer Iluka Resources Limited (ASX: ILU) added 5 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $6.92. African-based uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd (ASX: PDN) slid 6 cents, or 6 per cent, to 94 cents.

Among the big banks, National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) was down 13 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $29.19; ANZ Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: ANZ) lost 10 cents, also 0.4 per cent, to $24.60; and Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX: CBA) softened 7 cents, to $106.27; but Westpac Banking Corp (ASX: WBC) did not get the memo, advancing 12 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $21.91.

Biotech giant CSL Limited (ASX: CSL) eased 98 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $266.49; while Telstra Group Ltd (ASX: TLS) weakened 1 cent, to $3.84.

US markets on hold ahead of November jobs number

In the US, markets were largely torpid ahead of the US employment report for November, due out tonight. Economists polled by Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) expect that 190,000 jobs were added in November, a step up from the prior month. Investors are hoping for signs of cooling in the labour market, leaving the Federal Reserve comfortable with its decision to halt interest rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 (INDEXSP: .INX) both snapped three-day losing streaks. The 30-stock Dow Jones added 62.95 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 36,117.38, while the broader S&P 500 lifted 36.25 points, or 0.8 per cent, to 4,585.59. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite (INDEXNASDAQ: .IXIC) index pushed 193.28 points higher, up 1.4 per cent, to 14,339.99. Alphabet Inc Class A (NASDAQ: GOOGL) shares jumped 5 per cent, a day after Google announced its latest artificial intelligence model, called Gemini.

Alphabet share price

In the bond market, the US 10-year yield gained 4.7 basis points, to 4.156 per cent, while the 2-year yield softened 1.3 basis points, to 4.586 per cent.

Gold is up US$1.47, to US$2,028.38 an ounce. In oil, the global benchmark Brent crude oil grade advanced 14 cents, or 0.2 per cent, to US$74.44 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate retreated 4 cents, to US$69.34 a barrel.

The Australian dollar is buying 65.98 US cents this morning, up from 65.55 cents at the ASX close on Thursday.

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