Stocks of interest on the Australian Securities Exchange on Wednesday

Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange on Wednesday, Dec 4:

AZJ – AURIZON HOLDINGS – up eight cents, or 1.71 per cent, at $4.75

The Queensland government has sold millions of Aurizon shares, reducing its stake in the rail freight company to less than five per cent.

FMG – FORTESCUE METALS GROUP – down 10 cents, or 1.8 per cent, at $5.47

Fortescue Metals Group says it’s in a position to comfortably repay debt without having to do joint ventures or sell assets as the price of iron ore remains strong.

GNC – GRAINCORP – down 18 cents, or 2.14 per cent, at $8.23

Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has backed the “national interest” argument against a $3.4 billion foreign takeover of Australia’s largest grains handler, saying it could have driven down local wheat prices and hurt farmers.

RIO – RIO TINTO – down 36 cents, or 0.55 per cent, at $65.49

Rio Tinto has announced it will slash capital expenditure by nearly half from $US14 billion ($A15.42 billion) currently to $8 billion by 2015 in what it says it good news for shareholders.

SGP – STOCKLAND – flat at $3.80

Australian retail sales and the housing market are improving, says property and shopping centre developer Stockland.

VAH – VIRGIN AUSTRALIA – up one cent, or 2.6 per cent, at 39.5 cents

Virgin Australia will proceed with its planned $350 million equity raising after the move received the green light from the Takeovers Panel.