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31 May 2014 (AFR) – Thailand’s inside story – The secret story: the battle for a $37b royal estate

(31 May 2014, AFR, p21, Andrew MacGregor Marshall) ‘A week after Thailand’s army chief shocked the international community and plunged the kingdom deeper into turmoil by suddenly seizing power, the junta is increasingly isolated and desperate – and dangerous. Unprecedented protests have been staged on the streets of Bangkok. Scores of Thai academics and journalists … Continue reading

31 May 2014 (AFR) – Investors unfazed by US economy’s cold snap

(31 May 2014, AFR, p11, John Kehoe AFR correspondent) ‘The United States economy shrank 1 per cent in the first three months of this year, it was revealed on Thursday, but investors pushed the American sharemarket to a record high. Confused? Economists and investors were prepared to look through the weakest quarterly economic performance in three … Continue reading

31 May 2014 (AFR) – El Niño could give the economy a beating

(31 May 2014, AFR, p4, Yolanda Redrup) ‘Fashion retailers are worried, farmers are fraught and consumers are preparing for the price of fruit and vegetables to temporarily rocket. The cause of the potential economic chaos? El Niño. Should this weather pattern ­eventuate, the Australian economy will lose billions of dollars. Looking around the streets of southeastern … Continue reading

30 May 2014 (AFR) – New home sales at three-year high

(30 May 2014, AFR, p34, Larry Schlesinger) ‘Monthly sales of new homes reached their highest level in three years in April, Housing Industry Association figures show. HIA chief economist Harley Dale said the figures highlighted the…’ Read more at AFR.com (might need AFR login access)

30 May 2014 (AFR) – Too soon to worry about capex spending drop

(30 May 2014, AFR, p28, David Bassanese) ‘Despite swirling negativity surrounding the economy in recent months, the latest official survey of corporate Australia’s investment intentions was not as bad as feared, with an encouraging upgrade to planned spending for next financial year and a modest rise in actual spending on plant and equipment in the … Continue reading

30 May 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Business investment intentions a cause for hope: economists

(30 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p24 Sydney Morning Herald, Gareth Hutchens) ‘There are signs that non-mining parts of the economy are finally picking up, and economists are quietly surprised. The Bureau of Statistics capital expenditure survey, released on Thursday, shows business investment has fallen by 4.2 per cent this year, driven by a huge … Continue reading

30 May 2014 (TheAge,SMH) – Coal groups cut jobs as downturn bites

(30 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Roberts, Brian Robins) ‘Hard on the heels of heavy job losses in the coal industry outlined during the week, Yancoal Australia has warned that coal prices will remain weak “for a considerable period of time”.’ <snipped…> ‘On Thursday, Wollongong Coal announced the cutting of 152 … Continue reading

29 May 2014 (AFR) – Home prices in 20 US cities rise at slower pace in March

(29 May 2014, AFR, p58, Michelle Jamrisko) ‘Home prices in 20 US cities rose at a slower pace in the year ended in March as the housing market began to weaken at the start of 2014. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of property values increased 12.4 per cent from March 2013, the smallest 12-month gain since July, … Continue reading

29 May 2014 (AFR) – Spanish nightmare fades as pick-up buoys housing market

(29 May 2014, AFR, p58, Angeline Benoit and Sharon Smyth) ‘Within the ashes left by Spain’s real estate crash, some embers are glowing. As the recovery in the euro region’s fourth-largest economy extends and its record unemployment subsides, the property market whose slump locked the country into a recession is showing signs of life. While … Continue reading

29 May 2014 (AFR) – Fewer resources projects approved as investment peaks

(29 May 2014, AFR, p5, Jacob Greber) ‘The number of major resources projects that have been given a green light has fallen by almost one third to 48 last month from six months earlier, according to the latest Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics report. The total value of projects regarded to be at the … Continue reading

29 May 2014 (TheAge) – CBA planning victim losses may escalate

(29 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Adele Ferguson and Ben Butler) ‘The number of victims of the Commonwealth Bank financial planning scandal whose cases have not been properly assessed may balloon into the ”tens of thousands”, the chairman of a Senate inquiry says. Senator Mark Bishop, who is chairing an inquiry into the performance … Continue reading

29 May 2014 (TheAge) – CBA customers lose homes amid huge fraud claim

(29 May 2014, The Age, p13, Jane Lee, Cameron Houston, Chris Vedelago) ‘A professional poker player is facing 142 charges over an alleged $100 million fraud that saw the Commonwealth Bank foreclose on the homes of victims despite the bank being alerted to the alleged scam. The case is set to raise serious questions about … Continue reading

28 May 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – ‘Genuine slowdown’: economic growth indicator hits 3-year low

(28 May 2014, The Age, Sydney Morning Herald) ‘Australia’s economic growth expectations have hit a near three-year low, amid deteriorating cfollowing the federal budget. The Westpac/Melbourne Institute Leading Index, which indicates the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, fell sharply in May, pointing to a significant loss of momentum, … Continue reading

28 May 2014 (TheAge) – Consumer confidence worst in five years with biggest drop since GFC

(28 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Luke Malpass) ‘Consumer confidence has plunged to its lowest level since 2009, as this month’s ”hard-hitting” federal budget continues to hurt. According to ANZ-Roy Morgan’s weekly survey, consumer confidence has dropped another 1.1 per cent over the past week, chalking up a 15 per cent per cent drop … Continue reading

27 May 2014 (AFR) – Share trading volumes sink to five-year low

(27 May 20-14, AFR, p19, Joyce Moullakis) ‘Institutional and retail stockbroking firms are grappling with the lowest May trading volumes in five years, as a surge in merger and initial public offering activity fails to translate into investor trading activity. Trading volumes across the Australian Securities Exchange and Chi-X amounted to $149.8 billion at the end … Continue reading

26 May 2014 (AFR) – Sydney apartment buyers spend $100m in two hours

(26 May 2014, AFR, p9, Mercedes Ruehl) ‘Luxury apartment developer Fridcorp sold $100 million worth of stock in two hours over the weekend, defying predictions of an autumn and winter cool down. The $145 million development, known as Eve Apartments, is Fridcorp’s first outside of Melbourne and is located in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Erskineville. … Continue reading

26 May 2014 (AFR) – Surging drilling costs stifle industry

(26 May 2014, AFR, p6, Angela Macdonald-Smith) ‘An analysis by the oil and gas industry has found that the number of wells drilled offshore has plummeted, while the average cost of a well has surged to more than $130 million. The analysis, to be released by the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association on Monday, finds … Continue reading

26 May 2014 (AFR) – BHP, Rio warn of more coal job losses

(26 May 2014, AFR, p1, Amanda Saunders) ‘Mining giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have warned the combination of high costs, high taxes and the strong Australian dollar has put a “vice-like grip” on the $60 billion coal industry that will force further mine closures and job losses this year. About 12,000 jobs have been … Continue reading

26 May 2014 (TheAge) – Fixed-rate mortgages gather momentum as official rates set to stay on hold

(26 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p24, Clancy Yates) ‘Fixed mortgage rates look set to stay at historic lows for at least the next few months, as banks try to pinch each other’s customers and investors bet the Reserve Bank will leave official rates on hold for longer. While advertised variable mortgage rates have not … Continue reading

26 May 2014 (TheAge) – Unseasonably warm weather sends chill through retailers

(26 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p21, Carolyn Cummins) ‘Retailers, including department store Myer and shopping centre landlords, are holding crisis talks this week to discuss how to deal with unseasonably warm weather that has left them struggling to move winter stock. In the past three years, end-of-financial-year discounting has started on June 1, but … Continue reading

21 May 2014 (Straits Times) – Economy grew 4.9% in first quarter, boosted by factories

(21 May 2014, The Straits Times, p1, By Chia Yan Min) ‘Singapore’s manufacturing index for April is highest in seven months…’ ‘MANUFACTURING activity in Singapore kept picking up pace last month, even as factories elsewhere in the region started the second quarter on a softer note.’ ‘The closely-watched Singapore Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) reached its … Continue reading

21 May 2014 (Straits Times) – Martial law in Bangkok as army acts to end impasse

(21 May 2014, Straits Times, p1, By Tan Hui Yee  Thailand Correspondent In Bangkok) ‘Move not a coup but aimed at getting opposing sides to negotiate, it says…’ ‘AFTER months of sitting on the sidelines, Thailand’s army chief decided he had had enough. He ordered troops to seize control of the capital Bangkok and contending … Continue reading

17 May 2014 (Bangkok Post) – Recession looms as strife lingers

(17 May 2014, Bangkok Post, pB1, and Bloomberg) ‘The prolonged political crisis is raising the risk that Thailand will be the only one of Southeast Asia’s biggest economies to slide into a recession this year, undermining its allure as a manufacturing centre. ‘ ‘The country’s gross domestic product probably shrank 2.2% in the three months … Continue reading

14 May 2014 (AFR) – House price growth slows in March quarter

(14 May 2014, AFR, p33, Rebecca Thistleton) ‘House price growth slowed in the March quarter after thriving in 2013. All the capitals still recorded some ­capital gains in the three months to March, except Canberra, where sentiment has suffered since talk of public service cuts began around last year’s ­September election. The total value of … Continue reading

14 May 2014 (TheAge) – Fall in distressed listings sees commercial property on the up

(14 May 2014, TheAge, BusinessDay, p24, Carolyn Cummins) ‘There is further evidence the commercial property sector is on an upwards trajectory, with the number of distressed properties advertised for sale across national newspapers at the lowest level for years. According to the LandMark White Forced Sales Monitor, only 43 distressed properties were advertised in the … Continue reading

14 May 2014 (AFR) – China economy continues to decline – China factory output, investment show slowdown deepening

(14 May 2014, AFR, p12, Angus Grigg) ‘Land and property sales across China slumped in the first four months of the year, dragging down consumer spending, industrial production and fixed asset investment in the world’s second-biggest economy. Figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday showed the economy continuing to weaken, raising the … Continue reading

8 May 2014 (AFR) – Industrial vacancies rise on east coast

(8 May 2014, AFR, p46, Larry Schlesinger) ‘The east coast industrial vacancy rate hit its highest level in three years in the first quarter of 2014, but is nearing its peak, according to commercial real estate agents Knight Frank. Vacant industrial space increased to 1.95 million square metres in April, a 23 per cent increase on the … Continue reading

7 May 2014 (AFR) – Engineering construction will slow: report

(7 May 2014, AFR, p36, Michael Bleby) ‘Resource construction is falling away faster than expected as uncertainty grows about the underlying demand for Australian resources, according to the latest half-yearly Australian Construction Industry Forum forecasts. A 10 per cent decline in engineering construction will pull down the overall value of building to $228 billion next year … Continue reading

7 May 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – The banksters too big to jail

(7 May 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p44, Michael Pascoe) ‘While Australians ponder the feathers used to discipline errant banks when their people grossly fail or defraud their customers, blowing hundreds of millions of other people’s dollars, the wider world has banksters operating on a scale larger than most imaginations can conceive.’ ‘Funds manager Mike Mangan … Continue reading

7 May 2014 (AFR) – Take a hard line on your portfolio losers

[COMMENT: Here is one opinion about how to handle share portfolio management, and evaluation and re-balancing at end of financial year. There is general agreement about the old, failed set-and-forget mentality.] (7 May 2014, AFR, pS2, James Sherbon) ‘No share portfolio should ever be considered a “set-and-forget” proposition.’ ‘A share portfolio that is not being … Continue reading