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31 May 2012 – US confidence dented by falling job prospects (AFR, Bloomberg)

(31 May 2012, AFR, p20, Timothy Homan, Washington, Bloomberg) Confidence among U.S. consumers unexpectedly fell in May to the lowest level in four months as optimism about employment prospects faded ‘The Conference Board’s index decreased to 64.9 this month from a revised 68.7 in April, figures from the New York-based private research group showed today. … Continue reading

31 May 2012 – WA books $831m surprise surplus (AFR)

(31 May 2012, AFR, p8, Jonathan Barrett, Peter Kerr ) ‘West Australian Premier Colin ­Barnett’s pledge to never preside over a budget deficit looks safe so far, after the state posted a $831 million operating surplus last financial year.’ ‘The surprise result was $541 million higher than forecast just four months ago in the May … Continue reading

31 May 2012 – South Australia’s $9bn debt mountain (AFR)

(31 May 2012, AFR, p8, Mathew Dunckley and Lucille Keen ) ‘South Australia’s net debt is set to double to $9 billion as the Weatherill government sacrifices the state’s credit rating to pursue capital works and stave off further austerity, with the opposition complaining of a rise of nearly 30 per cent in the public sector … Continue reading

31 May 2012 – Retail sales take first drop in 10 months (AFR)

(31 May 2012, AFR, p5, Jacob Greber) ‘Pressure is increasing on the central bank to extend the most aggressive interest rate cuts since the global financial crisis after reports showed retail sales unexpectedly fell and construction work dropped everywhere except in Western Australia.’ ‘In renewed signs that Australia’s two-speed economy is intensifying, retail sales slid … Continue reading

31 May 2012 – Banks ‘well placed’ to deal with eurozone turmoil (The Age)

(31 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p3, ) ‘AUSTRALIA’S banks could survive for months if Europe’s financial strains caused global credit markets to freeze up again, the nation’s top banking regulator has said.’ ‘With Europe now becoming a ”white-knuckled” ride for many, each of Australia’s big banks have contingency plans in place for any break-up … Continue reading

31 May 2012 – Tenants force malls to cut their rent as sales slump (The Age)

(31 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p1, ) ‘AUSTRALIA’S biggest shopping-centre operators, Westfield Group, Stockland and GPT Group, are lowering rents for new stores while existing tenants call for cuts as major mall sales drop for the first time in a decade.’ ‘Myer, the nation’s largest department store chain, will close as many as a … Continue reading

30 May 2012 – When to put less stock in the index (AFR)

[COMMENT: A good article commenting on the performance of fund managers (managed funds) during bear market periods. Includes a table listing Australian bear markets back to 1914 – even though Australia did not have one consolidated share market until 1980 – we had separate state-based exchanges from 1861 until 1980.] (30 May 2012, AFR, p28, … Continue reading

30 May 2012 – UK home prices up for a third month (AFR, Bloomberg)

(30 May 2012, AFR, p50, Jennifer Ryan and Bloomberg) U.K. Hometrack House Prices Jump as London Values Surge: Economy ‘U.K. house prices rose for a third month in May on gains in London, according to Hometrack Ltd., which said the euro-area debt crisis will weigh on the market and limit further gains.’ ‘Values increased 0.2 … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Hastie reflects a worrying trend (AFR)

(29 May 2012, AFR, p25, Michael Smith) ‘The partial collapse of Hastie Group reflects a worrying trend emerging in corporate Australia.’ ‘Like Leighton, Newcrest, Spotless Group and Toll Holdings, the true extent of Hastie’s problems had not surfaced until its previous long-serving management team cleared off to leave a new boss to clean up the … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Slow decline, Hastie demise (AFR)

[COMMENT: This article is captured for the record, as a note about the demise of Hastie Group (ASX:HST).] (29 May 2012, AFR, p25, Carrie LaFrenz) ‘Hastie Group’s slide into receivership was swift but its problems started long before accounting irregularities were uncovered last week.’ ‘The industrial services group with operations across Australia, New Zealand, the­ … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Confident traders drop their shorts (AFR)

[COMMENT / QUESTION: Is this one way to look for signs of a bottom in the market? Or is it simply a pause in the downward momentum?] (29 May 2012, AFR, p27, Joanna Heath) ‘The Australian sharemarket may be nearing a bottom after recent falls, with the proportion of “short” bets on the S&P/ASX 200 … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Irish backlash could scupper austerity (AFR, and The Telegraph)

(29 May 2012, AFR, p16, Colin Freeman, and The Telegraph) All pain, no gain: the Irish backlash that could mean a ‘No’ to Europe’s austerity plans ‘With Ireland getting fed up of belt-tightening, the odds are shortening on a No vote to the referendum on the European fiscal treaty, reports Colin Freeman (Dublin).’ ‘Written in … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – UK house prices inch upwards (AFR and Bloomberg)

(29 May 2012, AFR, p15, Jennifer Ryan, London, and Bloomberg) U.K. Hometrack House Prices Jump as London Values Surge: Economy ‘U.K. house prices rose for a third month in May on gains in London, according to Hometrack Ltd., which said the euro-area debt crisis will weigh on the market and limit further gains.’ ‘Values increased … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – How contraction led to debt-deflation (AFR)

(29 May 2012, AFR, p14, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard ) ‘Spain is spiralling into the vortex of debt-deflation. This has nothing to do with Greece. It is not a result of fiscal extravagance in the past decade, or other such Wagnerian Wagnerian myths.’ ‘The collapse is the mathematically certain – and widely predicted – result of ferocious … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Online retail hit by caution (AFR)

(29 May 2012, AFR, p13, Jacob Greber) ‘Online retail sales growth fell sharply in the two months to April on an annual basis, as households cut spending on discretionary items such as ­furniture and electronics, adding to signs of increased consumer caution.’ ‘The value of online sales in Australia for the year to April rose … Continue reading

29 May 2012 – Online retailers’ advantage over bric-and-mortar stores slows (The Australian)

[COMMENT: This interesting article includes a useful graph.] (29 May 2012, The Australian, p23, Blair Speedy) ‘INTERNET retailers are growing almost four times as fast as their bricks-and-mortar competitors, but a downturn in sales of consumer electronics has slowed the pace of outperformance, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index.’ ‘The value of online … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – Australian biotech booms at last (AFR)

[COMMENT: A good, lengthy article that could be a shining light in the gloom of the current global economy, including a table/list of BioTechi stocks.] (26 May 2012, AFR, p48, Emma Connors) ‘Lawrence Gozlan is a professional cynic. He is also one of the country’s most successful investors in the life sciences.’ ‘The two are … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – Red faces in the aftermath of Facebook fallacies (AFR)

[COMMENT: More comments about the underlying with the Facebook IPO…] (26 May 2012, AFR, p21, Anna Bersasek) ‘Facebook’s 19 per cent share price decline in its first two days of trading as a public company came as a shocker. Disappointed investors issued recriminations, while rivals and analysts offered criticism aplenty. One regulator after another wants … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – Mining services see no easing (AFR)

(26 May 2012, AFR, p21, Luke Forrestal) ‘For months the big mining and energy companies have been fretting that the top of the boom has been reached.’ ‘The peaking of prices, while costs continue to surge, means the next round of decisions among the big resources companies will be when to call a halt – … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – Spanish bank needs $19 billion handout (AFR & The Guardian)

(26 May 2012, AFR, p16, Giles Tremlett Madrid , and HAROLD HECKLE from The Guardian) Spain’s Bankia asks for $24B in state aid ‘Associated Press= MADRID (AP) — Spain’s troubled bank, Bankia, asked the Spanish government for €19 billion ($23.8 billion) in financial support on Friday, the day that a leading credit rating agency downgraded … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – China’s slowdown spreads (AFR)

(26 May 2012, AFR, p14, Keith Bradsher Xi’an) ‘A nationwide real estate downturn, stalling exports and declining consumer confidence have produced what a Chinese cabinet adviser quoted on the official government website characterised as a “sharp slowdown in the economy”.’ ‘Although the Chinese economy continues to expand, construction workers are losing jobs in droves and retail … Continue reading

26 May 2012 – MF Global clients warned on foreign buyers (AFR)

(26 May 2012, AFR, p11, John Kehoe) ‘Clients of collapsed broker MF Global Australia have been warned to be extremely cautious about selling their claims to offshore buyers, after debt buying firms lobbed new bids.’ ‘Macquarie Group and United States firm CRT Special Investments have begun processing transfer forms with liquidator Deloitte and some clients … Continue reading

25 May 2012 – Speed warning on China slowdown (AFR)

(25 May 2012, AFR, p25, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman) ‘China’s economic slowing is happening faster than many anticipated, some strategists suggest.’ ‘ “We have thought for several quarters that China’s economy was headed for a much greater slowdown than consensus,” Nikko Asset Management chief global strategist John Vail said.’ ‘ “[But] we don’t see a very hard … Continue reading

25 May 2012 – The slide quickens in China (AFR)

(25 May 2012, AFR, p9, Jacob Greber, Gemma Daley and Robert Guy) ‘Manufacturing in China has fallen at a quickening pace this month, adding to evidence the fallout from the European crisis is spilling into Australia’s biggest trade partner.’ ‘The closely watched HSBC flash China purchasing managers index dropped to a two-month low of 48.7 … Continue reading

25 May 2012 – Friends no more as lawsuit builds (The Age)

[COMMENT: Another update on the recent Facebook IPO…] (25 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p6, Dominic Rushe, New York) ‘THE law firm that won a $US7 billion settlement for Enron’s shareholders is pursuing Facebook, Morgan Stanley and some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley over the social network’s disastrous share sale.’ ‘Robbins Geller is … Continue reading

25 May 2012 – Mining boom? $500 billion more to come, say analysts (The Age)

[COMMENT: Can this activity really be sustained? Given the supposed slowdown in China? What do you think?] (25 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p3, Peter Martin) ‘ALL of the investment in the mining boom to date is but a shadow of what’s about to come, according to the latest update by the Bureau of Resources … Continue reading

25 May 2012 – Investors ‘say no to Australia’ (The Age)

[COMMENT: What’s holding back the Australian economy?”] (25 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p1, Eli Greenblat) ‘THE boss of Myer, the nation’s largest department store, has added his name to a growing list of executives and businessmen warning that foreign investors are starting to shun Australia as a place to invest because of political uncertainty … Continue reading

24 May 2012 – Shop troops needed for a counter revolution (The Age)

[COMMENT: Online shopping! – Has it impacted much on the conventional retail industry in Australia?] (24 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p9, Ian McIlwraith) ‘AUSTRALIA’S leading retailers scored ”own” goals from their campaign to have internet shopping’s GST-free ride halted, but their customers are not behaving like they will shop until they drop.’ ‘Last year’s … Continue reading

24 May 2012 – No elation, but $19m certainty (The Age)

[COMMENT: Another story about failed investments… This time, “principal-protected” (similar to “capital-protected”) – somewhat of a misnomer…] (24 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p4, Leonie Lamont) ‘THE 309 superannuants who had invested $65 million in now collapsed ”principal-protected” notes were over 60. Bringing their class action to trial would take another two years, with combined … Continue reading

24 May 2012 – Customers are Masters, says hardware chief (The Age)

[COMMENT: You might be gob-smacked with the first para below about shoppers comparing competitive prices in-store with their smart phone!!!] (24 May 2012, The Age, BusinessDay, p3, Carolyn Cummins) ‘MORE than half the people shopping for whitegoods at Masters hardware stores use smartphones to check competitors’ prices, group chief executive Don Stallings says.’ ‘He said … Continue reading