The S&P/ASX 200 index (Index: ^AXJO) (ASX: XJO) has closed up 0.1% to 4,133.2, but it could have been much worse if not for better than expected Chinese manufacturing data. The HSBC Flash China Manufacturing PMI for July came in at 49.5, up from 48.2 in June and a five-month high, suggesting easing measures taken by China’s policy makers may be buoying Chinese industrial demand.

China appears to be heading for a soft landing, with Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens suggesting that recent data showed a ‘normal cyclical slowing’, rather than suddenly falling off a cliff, as expected by some doomsayers.

Company News

Billabong International (ASX: BBG) confirmed today that it has received a $1.45 per share offer from its previous suitor, US private equity giant TPG. Shares in Billabong jumped 19.6% to close at $1.315, still a reasonable discount to the offer price. The main reasons for the discount are that Billabong’s board have yet to decide whether to support the deal and major shareholder, Gordon Merchant with 15.6% of the company, also hasn’t indicated whether he will support the new offer.

Tabcorp Holdings Limited (ASX: TAH) announced that it will receive $14.3 million from a GST refund, after the Australian Tax Office allowed a claim relating to GST paid on wagering turnover derived from overseas based customers.

Treasury Wine Estates Limited (ASX: TWE), formerly part of Foster’s Group has agreed a deal with privately owned Accolade Wines, in which Accolade will close its local bottling operations, leading to 175 job losses. TWE will now bottle Accolade wine in Australia, while Accolade will bottle wine for TWE in Britain.

Winners and Losers

Major resources and energy stocks saw strong gains with Woodside Petroleum (ASX: WPL) up 1.9%, and both BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: WPL) and Origin Energy Limited (ASX: ORG) adding 1.2%.

BlueScope Steel Limited (ASX: BSL) and Qantas Airways Limited (ASX: QAN) were the worst performers in the top 50, falling by 3.7% and 2.9% respectively.

Foolish takeaway

It appears fears of a Greek exit from the euro have risen, with ratings agency Moody’s cutting credit ratings for Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on that basis. We live in interesting times, Fools!

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Motley Fool writer/analyst Mike King owns shares in BHP and Woodside Petroleum. The Motley Fool‘s purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

 

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