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31 Oct 2013 (AFR) – House prices is US cities up most since 2006

(31 Oct 2013, AFR, p58, Lorraine Woellert) ‘Home prices in 20 US cities rose in August from a year ago by the most since February 2006 as stronger demand boosted values. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property prices in 20 cities increased 12.8 per cent from August 2012, more than forecast, after a 12.3 per cent gain in … Continue reading

31 Oct 2013 (AFR) – It’s too early to call it a recovery: Panaccio

(31 Oct 2013, AFR, p46, Robert Harley) ‘It’s “too early” to see a pick-up in retail sales in Australia’s malls, says the managing director of the $9.2 billion Westfield Retail Trust, Domenic Panaccio.’ ‘Speaking during the Citi Investment Conference in Sydney, Mr Panaccio said consumer confidence would be helped by factors such as a stable … Continue reading

31 Oct 2013 (AFR) – New home sales hit two-year high in September

(31 Oct 2013, AFR, p44, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘New home sales were at a two-year high in September, propelled by a near-20 per cent jump in multi-unit sales. New detached house sales were up 4.5 per cent for the month and sales also improved over the course of the third quarter, according to the Housing Industry Association’s … Continue reading

31 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Port Hedland’s post-mining boom property hangover

(31 Oct 2013, AFR, p13, Jonathan Barrett) ‘Port Hedland cafe owner Ray Sampson has been looking for a one-bedroom unit that his son, who is also the cafe’s chef, can rent in the post-mining boom property market.’ ‘  “The agent said the old tenants paid $1600 a week,” Mr Sampson said. “I got them down … Continue reading

31 Oct 2013 (AFR) – ASIC hit by deluge of criticism – ‘Glass jaw’: corporate Australia’s stinging rebuke to ASIC

[COMMENT: The all-powerful watchdog…. has some flaws?] (31 Oct 2013, AFR, p3, Patrick Durkin) ‘The corporate regulator has isolated itself from business, developed a “glass jaw” to criticism and unfairly shifts blame to others, leading directors, senior executives and industry bodies say. More than 200 groups and individuals have deluged a Senate inquiry with concerns, … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (TheAge) – Fears of slump if Holden leaves

(29 Oct 2013, The Age, p8,Mark Kenny, Peter Martin) ‘The possible withdrawal of car maker Holden could trigger a recession in southern states, it is feared. With Treasurer Joe Hockey already complaining of rising unemployment and falling economic growth nationally, there are increasing fears the auto giant, which has its headquarters in the US, is … Continue reading

30 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Banks hire for lending surge

(30 Oct 2013, AFR, p44, Agnes King) ‘Recruiters are reporting a spike in banks hiring branch staff in anticipation of a surge of loan applications as Australia’s big four banks ­prepare to update investors on their financial performance. “Hiring levels in the banking operations sector increased in Sydney and Melbourne,” said Sara Harrison, associate director … Continue reading

30 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Demand for skilled labour on the rise

(30 Oct 2013, AFR, p43, Robert Harley) ‘Building tradesmen are about to become even harder to find. The availability of skilled tradespeople fell moderately in the September quarter, as housing construction began to rise, according to the Housing Industry Association’s trades report.’ Read more at AFR.com (might need AFR login access)

29 Oct 2013 (TheAge) – Snowgum goes into voluntary administration

[COMMENT: These days, many news stories are sad and unfortunate for different people, and for different reasons. But this news story is sad for all those with a Scouting background and allegiance and sympathies for Scouting-related services in Australia…] (29 Oct 2013, TheAge, BusinessDay, p20, Ben Butler and Eli Greenblat) ‘Rising rents and wages, stagnant … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Devine brought low by wrong postcodes

(29 Oct 2013, AFR, p29, Duncan Hughes) ‘Property developer Devine has provided a sombre alternative viewpoint on the recent pick-up in the nation’s residential property market. Real estate hot-spots in Melbourne and Sydney, where median prices are at a record high, cannot be taken as a barometer for the rest of the market.’ Read more … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (AFR, FinTimes) – Optimism about an end to the euro crisis is wrong

(29 Oct 2013, AFR, p22, and Financial Times, By Wolfgang Münchau) ‘The scale of the required adjustment is enormous and the IMF does not believe it will happen. Adjustment is the key to ending the eurozone crisis. The optimists are saying that this process of regaining competitiveness is now taking place. Look at the success … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (AFR) – IMF, Maurice Blackburn stoke Treasury Wine class action

(29 Oct 2013, AFR, p17, Simon Evans) ‘Litigation funder IMF and law firm Maurice Blackburn have set a deadline of early December to try to attract enough interest from Treasury Wine Estates’ 73,000 shareholders for a class action over the shock $160 million write-downs announced by the wine company on July 15.’ Read more at AFR.com … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Investors cling to last of the CDOs

(29 Oct 2013, AFR, p11, Jonathan Barrett) ‘The last of the collateralised debt ­obligations (CDOs) that wiped ­hundreds of millions of dollars from the investment portfolios of local councils, churches and charities are approaching maturity – or implosion – leaving investors to start counting the cost of exposure to an asset few understood. Analysis of … Continue reading

29 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Three years of low economic growth predicted

(29 Oct 2013, AFR, p7, Jacob Greber Economics correspondent) ‘Australia faces at least another three years of below-average economic growth as a business investment strike gathers momentum, according to a leading forecaster. In a bleak assessment to be ­published on Tuesday, Deloitte Access Economics warns “hope is fading” for a recovery investment outside the slowing … Continue reading

28 Oct 2013 (AFR) – JPMorgan’s lesson for bank investors

(28 Oct 2013, AFR, p24, John Kehoe) ‘JPMorgan’s tentative $US13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department for dubious mortgage activities before the financial crisis is a timely reminder for bank shareholders about the risks of investing in financial institutions.’ <snipped…> ‘Record profits will almost certainly be announced after Commonwealth Bank’s share price hit a record … Continue reading

28 Oct 2013 (AFR) – AustralianSuper gets tough on fundie fees

(28 Oct 2013, AFR, p18, Sally Patten) ‘Asset managers are reaping the benefits of Australia’s ballooning superannuation industry at the expense of fund members, argues the boss of the country’s biggest industry super fund. Frustration over the millions of dollars AustralianSuper pays in investment management fees every year has prompted fund chief Ian Silk to … Continue reading

28 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Home sellers cash in on record auctions

(28 Oct 2013, AFR, p3, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘Auctions in the nation’s two largest markets blew out expectations over the weekend, with bigger volumes doing little to stem buyer enthusiasm at levels unseen since the last property boom. A record number of more than 3000 residential properties were auctioned across the country, with early figures from … Continue reading

26 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Retailers in doldrums as sales fall flat – Post-election retail bounce fails to materialise

(26 Oct 2013, AFR, p8, Jacob Greber and Simon Evans) ‘Retailers are bracing for a tough ­Christmas on signs the sentiment boost delivered by the Coalition’s victory last month has waned and growing fears of a lingering business investment strike.’ ‘As economists warned that ­real-world business conditions have failed to match last month’s confidence spurt, … Continue reading

26 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Electrolux plant to close, 540 jobs to go

(26 Oct 2013, AFR, p8, Mark Skulley and James Massola) ‘International appliance giant Electrolux will shut a plant in regional NSW, putting 540 people out of work, after it rejected a last-minute plea from the Abbott government for more time to put together a rescue package. Electrolux announced on Friday it would shut its refrigerator … Continue reading

26 Oct 2013 (AFR) – TFS sues shareholders for online defamation

[COMMENT: Here is a word of warning – be careful about what you post onto web sites and discussion forums. You can be liable for the comments…] (26 Oct 2013, AFR, p5, Jonathan Barrett) ‘Listed sandalwood company TFS ­Corporation is suing two shareholders for allegedly defaming the company’s directors and managers in an online sharemarket … Continue reading

26 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Court talks up jail for white collar crimes – Judge sends ex-Bell Potter broker to jail

(26 Oct 2013, AFR, p2, Patrick Durkin) ‘Suspended sentences and good behaviour bonds aren’t deterring white-collar fraud, the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal says. Former Bell Potter stockbroker and amateur rugby star Lawson Stuart Donald was sentenced on Friday to one year in jail for misappropriating $1.7 million in client shares.’ Read more at AFR.com (might … Continue reading

26 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Alarms about SMSFs ‘not being heard’

(26 Oct 2013, AFR, p2, Duncan Hughes) ‘An accountant specialising in self-managed super funds says her complaints to regulators about multimillion-dollar rip-offs in SMSF property investments and accounting are falling on deaf ears.’ ‘Barbie Chiro, who has worked on government taxation advisory committees, said her frustration has been ­intensified by the Australian Taxation Office’s decision … Continue reading

28 Oct 2013 (TheAge) – Property market likely to stay strong

(28 Oct 2013, The Age, p9, Nicole Lindsay) ‘A record 1438 properties went under the hammer at the weekend and nearly three-quarters were sold. The city’s clearance rate from 1317 auctions – results from 121 were not reported – was a healthy 74 per cent, based on results given to the Real Estate Institute of … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Bank of America loses fraud trial over US mortgages

(25 Oct 2013, AFR, p31, Landon Thomas) ‘Bank of America has been found liable for having purposely sold defective mortgages, a result that will be seen as a victory for the US government in its aggressive effort to hold large ­American banks accountable for their role in the housing crisis. Moreover, the jury also found … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (AFR, Bloomberg) – Central Banks Drop Tightening Talk as Easy Money Goes On

(25 Oct 2013, AFR, p30, By Simon Kennedy & Jeff Kearns, and Bloomberg) ‘The era of easy money is shaping up to keep going into 2014.’ ‘The Bank of Canada’s dropping of language about the need for future interest-rate increases and today’s decisions by central banks in Norway, Sweden and the Philippines to leave their … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Spain out of recession, but pressure remains

(25 Oct 2013, AFR, p22, Karen Maley) ‘The euro zone celebrated a rare piece of good news when the Spanish economy emerged from a bleak two-year recession this week, but analysts warned that the region still faces huge challenges as debt levels continue to balloon, while deflationary pressures mount. According to the Spanish central bank, … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Pacific Brands shares slump on earnings guidance

(25 Oct 2013, AFR, p20, Sue Mitchell) ‘Pacific Brands chief executive John Pollaers has dashed shareholder hopes that the textiles, clothing and footwear group is finally on the road to recovery, warning that first-half profits will fall “materially” and full-year profits will be down.’ ‘Mr Pollaers told shareholders sales of underwear and homewares such as sheets … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (AFR) – Direct investments to increase – Investors set to move $100bn past advisers

(25 Oct 2013, AFR, p16, Ruth Liew and Joyce Moullakis) ‘Australian investors are hitting out at fees charged by brokers and advisers, with new data showing an additional $100 billion will go directly into investments, bypassing advisers, in the next two years.’ ‘CoreData research reveals direct investments are expected to grow by at least $96.5 billion by … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (TheAge) – Toll yet to see real upturn

(25 Oct 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p24, Matt O’Sullivan) ‘Toll Holdings has joined a growing list of companies to highlight that it is yet to experience a noticeable improvement in economic conditions. This is despite a lift in business confidence after the federal election.’ ‘The transport and logistics company told shareholders that it expected underlying … Continue reading

25 Oct 2013 (TheAge) – Mining slowdown hits PacBrands

[COMMENT: Changes in one sector of the economy can have flow-on effects to other sectors…] (25 Oct 2013, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Georgia Wilkins) ‘Pacific Brands has become an unlikely victim of the mining slowdown, with a fall in jobs in construction and resources leading to weaker sales of its workwear brands such as Hard … Continue reading