It wouldn’t fit the London Stock Exchange’s
self-image but Macquarie Bank looks on it as mainly just another
infrastructure asset, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. And
despite the LSE’s rejection of the audacious $3.6 billion Macquarie-led consortium cash bid as “derisory,” it is no
impulsive gesture by Macquarie and is driven by much more than a desire
to lift the Australian group’s European, and global, profile.

And transport giant Toll Holdings is close to getting the nod from
the competition watchdog to win the bitter battle for Patrick Corp –
but a final decision is still about two weeks away, reports The Age. Analysts are tipping the ACCC will approve the deal, but the regulator yesterday postponed
a decision, due today.

The ACCC will intensify its scrutiny of risky property-related
investments, amid fears that small investors will be hardest hit by the
downturn in the residential market, reports The Fin Review.
Chairman Jeffrey Lucy, said high-yield financial products that promised
big returns but were linked to inherently risky property developments
would be targeted in 2006. Also in the AFR, Western
Australia’s booming resources and property sector have fuelled a budget
surplus of more than $1 billion – the biggest of any state – but
Treasurer Eric Ripper has warned that such windfalls were unlikely to
be sustained due to rising cost pressures and demands for tax cuts.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed lower overnight amid signs the
year-end rally may have given way to sideways trading, after General
Motors fell within striking distance of its all-time low stock price
Morgan Stanley rallied on earnings news. The Dow Jones closed down
30.98 points at 10,805 – MarketWatch reports here.