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30 April 2013 (AFR) – Western Sydney has highest number of bankrupts

(30 April 2013, AFR, p11, Katie Walsh) ‘Sydney’s western suburbs are home to more bankrupts than anywhere else in Australia for the second year running, but residents in Melbourne’s west are statistically more likely to be bankrupt. The Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia released its annual breakdown of personal insolvency by postcode for the 2012 … Continue reading

29 April 2013 (AFR) – Spring swoon hurts sales for corporations

(29 April 2013, AFR, p12, Ben Potter) ‘America’s corporations struggled to maintain sales in the face of a downbeat US economy in the March quarter, setting the scene for another tough year.’ ‘March quarter revenues fell by just less than 1 per cent year over year for the 271 S&P500 companies that reported at the half-way … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (AFR) – S&P, Moody’s settle US subprime lawsuits

(26 April 2013, AFR, p20, Stephen Foley) ‘The credit rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have settled a pair of lawsuits that would have tested the integrity of their pre-financial crisis ratings in front of a jury for the first time. With less than a week before the scheduled start of the first trial, the … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (AFR) – Morgan Stanley follows brokers in red

(26 April 2013, AFR, p18, John Kehoe and Joyce Moullakis) ‘Morgan Stanley has become the latest retail stockbroking firm to post a multi-­million loss, prompting a warning that the industry needs to consolidate rather than simply hope that sharemarket volumes will improve.’ ‘Morgan Stanley Wealth Management suffered a $9.2 million loss last year, following disappointing results … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (AFR) – Clothing stores face winter of discontent

(26 April 2013, AFR, p15, Sue Mitchell) ‘Retailers are praying for a cold snap to clear autumn and winter apparel and avoid a blowout in inventories after above-average temperatures across most of Australia in the past few months.’ ‘Analysts say unless temperatures drop in the next few weeks, clothing retailers and department stores will be … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (AFR) – Bloodbath in services sector as miners slash spending

(26 April 2013, AFR, p28, Tim Binsted) ‘Tumbling commodity prices and a sharp pullback in resources capital expenditure have seen share prices plummet across the mining services sector. Some fund managers have taken the sell-off as a buying opportunity, raising the question of whether sentiment has triumphed over fundamentals.’ ‘The copper price has plunged more than … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (The Age) – Housing loan defaults hurt QBE

(26 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p24, Clancy Yeates) ‘QBE’s mortgage insurance arm was hit by a sharp rise in claims last year, as the weakening economy caused a growing number of borrowers to default on their home loans.’ ‘Payouts more than doubled to $60.8 million last year, up from $27.6 million in 2011, because … Continue reading

26 April 2013 (The Age) – Retail rally tipped to flow on to liquor

(26 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Colin Kruger) ‘Australians are starting to spend big again, with the sales of fridges and washing machines returning to healthy levels, and the news could not be better for Australia’s liquor industry. It’s called the Harvey Norman test. When consumers start spending again on large whitegoods, it is … Continue reading

25 April 2013 (The Age) – Engineers feel squeeze on slowdown

(25 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p26, Brian Robins) ‘Coffey International has downgraded earnings as the slump in exploration spending bites, amid more bad news in the resources sector, this time with a round of job cuts in the NSW coal industry and in the West Australian gold sector. The warning came as Downer EDI … Continue reading

24 April 2013 (AFR) – Median house price rises

(24 April 2013, AFR, p34, Samantha Hutchinson and Rebecca Thistleton) ‘Growing competition among home-buyers has pushed median house prices around the country to within 1 per cent of peak levels. The national median house price rose 1.7 per cent in the first three months of the year to $551,685, says a report released on Tuesday by Fairfax Media’s … Continue reading

24 April 2013 (The Age) – Dig deep for a decent return

[COMMENT: This news article is one of those that brings us the forecasts of the experts – where will our market be in a few months time? Are any of these “forecasts” ever close? Does it help the average retail investor at all? Or is it just an “interesting read”?] (24 April 2013, The Age, … Continue reading

20 April 2013 (AFR) – Can the global recovery weather setbacks?

(20 April 2013, AFR, p14, Alan Mitchell) ‘Just two weeks ago it was “risk on” as market expectations danced to Japan’s aggressive monetary stimulus, China’s good economic data, and a promising start to the March quarter company reporting season in the United States.’ ‘Then came the shock of unexpectedly weak economic data from both China … Continue reading

19 April 2013 (The Age) – Booming Coles continues to ring tills

(19 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Eli Greenblat) ‘Coles is not showing any sign of improvement fatigue, posting its fastest sales growth in two years on the fifth anniversary of its purchase by Wesfarmers. And management is looking to squeeze even more earnings from the once-ailing supermarket chain through better supply arrangements and store … Continue reading

18 April 2013 (The Age) – Sales growth lifts Harvey Norman chief

(18 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Eli Greenblat) ‘Retail mogul Gerry Harvey says the worst trading conditions he has seen in more than half a century of business might have bottomed, as his furniture and electricals chain Harvey Norman registered its first quarterly sales growth in nearly two years. ”From memory this is the … Continue reading

17 April 2013 (TheAge) – Double-digit returns despite decline

[COMMENT: I still maintain that the finance industry, or the news agencies, are conning us. Reports like this one announce what seems to be great results. But don’t forget that many superannuation investments have performed very poorly over the last 5 years. Some might have out-performed the “bench mark”, but if the bench mark is … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (AFR) – Warehouse vacancies on rise

(16 April 2013 , AFR, p39, Robert Harley) ‘The amount of vacant warehouse space rose in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane during the March quarter, as building activity increased but demand remained flat or softened. The vacancy rate – in industrial buildings over 5000 square metres in Sydney and Melbourne and 3000 sq m in Brisbane … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (AFR, Financial Times) – Trading houses reap $US250bn…

[QUESTION: Is there money to be made in commodities trading? Read how much (it’s ming-boggling…] (16 April 2013, AFR, p20 and Financial Times, Javier Blas) Commodity traders reap $250bn harvest ‘The world’s top commodities traders have pocketed nearly $250bn over the last decade, making the individuals and families that control the largely privately-owned sector big … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (AFR, Financial Times) – Global economy stuck in a rut

(16 April 2013, AFR, Chris Giles, and Financial Times) Global economy stuck in a rut ‘The global economy is stuck in a rut, unable to sustain a decent recovery and susceptible to a sudden stall, according to the latest Brookings Institution-Financial Times tracking index of recovery. Despite strong financial markets and confidence returning to business … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (AFR) – Ex-trader pleads guilty to fraud

[COMMENT: For the investors who invest in these types of instruments, here is an eye-opening case study of how the money can “go astray”. Read on…] (16 April 2013, AFR, p14, Peter Lattman, and New York Times) Former Credit Suisse Executive Pleads Guilty to Inflating the Value of Mortgage Bonds By PETER LATTMAN ‘A former … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (AFR) – Slower China spooks the markets

(16 April 2013, AFR, p1, Angus Grigg, Shanghai) ‘China’s economy slowed in the first quarter, hit by a government crackdown on luxury spending and weaker housing construction that sent a tremor through financial markets around the world.’ ‘Concerns a growth slowdown in the second-largest economy will hit demand for Australian commodities, including iron ore, drove … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (TheAge) – China’s growth jots market

(16 April 2013, TheAge, BusinessDay, p22, Philip Wen) ‘China’s economy has produced more mixed signals about its bumpy recovery, with an unexpectedly slower rate of growth jolting global markets and highlighting the difficulty facing its new leaders in pursuing deeper economic reforms.’ ‘The gross domestic product of the world’s second-largest economy’s grew 7.7 per cent … Continue reading

16 April 2013 (TheAge) – High-cost producers feel the pinch

(16 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Peter Ker) ‘These are nervous times in the gold sector and not just at the small end. Numerous individual gold mines in Australia and New Zealand are unprofitable at the sorts of gold prices seen over the past few days, and in a commodity where single-mine companies are … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (AFR) – Food bowl requires a refill

(15 April 2013, AFR, p17, Tim Binsted) Agricultural sector needs capital injection to fulfil potential as food bowl ‘The impending vote to wind up PrimeAg Australia, and a spate of profit downgrades, underline the problems of a listed agricultural sector facing a capital shortfall of up to $850 billion. Especially if the sector is to … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (AFR) – Jitters about US economy spread

(15 April 2013, AFR, p27, Jane Searle) ‘Potential cracks in the United States economic recovery have sent jitters through global markets as falling home loan revenues from two of Wall Street’s biggest banks reignited concern about demand in the world’s largest economy. Australia’s sharemarket is also vulnerable to the sell-off in commodities, with gold and … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (AFR) – Another spring slump as US feels squeeze

(15 April 2013, AFR, p12, Ben Potter) ‘American households and firms are tightening their purse strings and shedding confidence as tax rises and spending cuts begin to bite. The deteriorating picture for consumers and small business is raising the prospect of a third spring slump in the US economy in as many years.’ <snipped…> ‘The … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (TheAge) – Penney unwise to be dollar foolish with customer expectations

[COMMENT: This story about “Tracie Fobes” is a fanstastic case-book study of customer behaviour. Recommended reading…] (15 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p28,Stephanie Clifford and Catherine Rampell) ‘When the board of J.C. Penney ousted its chief executive Ron Johnson, you might say it was, in some small way, because he did not understand Tracie Fobes. … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (The Age) – Ireland, Portugal given breathing space

(15 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p28, James Kanter) ‘Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to give Ireland and Portugal more time to repay their bailout loans after a disastrously chaotic rescue for Cyprus renewed animosity towards the authorities overseeing the single currency area. They also made some progress on a bundle of initiatives to create … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (The Age) – Solid sales lift market hopes for a recovery

(15 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p27, Nicole Lindsay) ‘Auction clearance rates cranked up another notch with the end of school holidays, lifting hopes of a recovery in the property market. The weekend’s auctions produced a clearance rate of 70 per cent from 511 results reported to the Real Estate Institute of Victoria; 154 passed … Continue reading

15 April 2013 (The Age) – Share punters can outpick professionals

[COMMENT: Who said we should listen to the “professionals” when it comes to investing and superannuation?] (15 April 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Clancy Yeates) ‘Ever noticed how badly the experts tend to perform in share-tipping contests? Think of the newspaper competitions that pit stock-picking gurus against members of the public. The current leader of … Continue reading

13 April 2013 (AFR) – The great super scam

(13 April 2013, AFR, p29, Christopher Joye) ‘Compulsory super, which equates to government removing your right to determine how you spend your hard-earned income, is an illiberal, astonishingly costly and conflicted program that is unnecessary for all but the poorest Australians.’ ‘Just as scandalous is that both sides of politics have conspired to further fetter … Continue reading