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30 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Barclays charged over client fraud

(30 June 2014, AFR, p32, John Kehoe) ‘The shocking revelations about the blatant dishonesty of Barclays bank to clients about the existence of so-called “predatory” high-speed traders in its dark pool exchange is a lesson in why transparent financial markets are essential.’ ‘The New York Attorney-General Eric Schneiderman,last week filed civil charges against the bank, alleging systematic fraud … Continue reading

30 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Two more arrests in IBM-SPSS insider trading scandal

(30 June 2014, AFR, p20, John Kehoe) ‘The insider trading scandal instigated by Australian Trent Martin has widened in New York after two more stockbrokers were arrested and charged by United States prosecutors. Martin, from Sydney’s northern beaches, and four co-accused allegedly traded on confidential information about computer giant IBM preparing to pay a big … Continue reading

30 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Sydney house market in line for record June listings, sales

(30 June 2014, AFR, p6, Michael Bleby and Jacob Greber) ‘Sydney and Melbourne house prices are making a comeback, posting rises in June after falling in May.’ ‘Sydney home values rose 0.7 per cent last week for a monthly increase of 1.5 per cent, RP Data figures showed. In May they fell 1.1 per cent. In Melbourne, weekly … Continue reading

30 Jun 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Clients are dark on Barclays

(30 June 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p30, William Alden) ‘Several large brokerage houses last week stopped sending orders to the private stock trading system run by Barclays, concerned at a lawsuit claiming that the bank committed fraud.’ ‘The brokerage houses – including Deutsche Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada, Sanford Bernstein and Voya Financial – … Continue reading

Jun 2014 (CNBC) – Confessions of a financial advisor

[COMMENT: This is a great read, for those who are a little in the dark about the financial advice industry. Now this material originated in the US where the laws may be a little different to other countries (like Australia); but the warnings still apply. It pays to make no assumptions about the financial advice … Continue reading

28 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Head offshore for shares, or risk sinking

[COMMENT: This lengthy article appeared in the Weekend AFR, “Smart Money”, and includes some useful information – in particular the section towards the bottom regarding “Direct Shares” (overseas). Note: No recommendations here.] ‘Never before has it been so compelling to diversify your portfolio away from the traditional Australian bias and invest overseas. Not only is … Continue reading

28 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Chinese property dream turns sour

(28 June 2014, AFR, p13, Lisa MurrayAFR correspondent) ‘It was a deal that turned out too good to be true. For a minimum outlay of 100,000 yuan ($17,000) lenders were promised interest rates of up to 30 per cent and assured they need only give a month’s notice to get their money back in full.’ ‘The … Continue reading

27 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Struggling retailers come clean during confession season – Downgrades reveal retailers’ misery

(27 June 2014, AFR, p26, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman) ‘Nearly $480 million has been wiped off the value of Australian retailers since the May budget was delivered, as the confession season produces a number of high-profile corporate downgrades and raises fears of more to come.’ ‘More than half a dozen retailers including Kathmandu Holdings, Pacific Brands, Super … Continue reading

27 Jun 2014 (AFR) – US economy falters in first quarter – Recovers from first-quarter crash

(27 June 2014, AFR, p16, John Kehoe) ‘The United States economy shrank far more than previously thought early this year and the ­weakness was due to broader factors beyond a frigid winter. The economy contracted 2.9 per cent in annual terms in the first three months of this year, the worst performance since the recession five … Continue reading

27 Jun 2014 (AFR) – House renovations tipped at $28b – Renovation activity on the rise: HIA

(27 June 2014, AFR, p9, Larry Schlesinger) ‘Low interest rates and rising house prices have seen the home renovation market rebound, with spin-off economic benefits for small building firms, DIY stores, building materials ­suppliers, retailers and manufacturers. The Housing Industry Association expects homeowners to spend $28.6 billion on renovations this financial year, up 1 per cent on … Continue reading

27 Jun 2014 (AFR) – CommBank covered up scandal – Bank, ASIC slammed by Senate committee

(27 June 2014, AFR, p1, James Eyers and Clancy Yeates) ‘A royal commission is needed into Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s financial planning subsidiary after the bank underpaid victims of a scandal, sought to avoid regulatory scrutiny and covered up the misconduct, says a ­parliamentary inquiry. The explosive report has also called for…’ Read more at … Continue reading

27 Jun 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Senate inquiry turns up heat on Macquarie

(27 June 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Adele Ferguson and Ben Butler, and SMH) ‘A Senate inquiry has called for the corporate regulator to put Macquarie Group’s financial planning unit under ”intensive surveillance” as concerns about shoddy practices in the industry spread beyond the scandal at Commonwealth Bank. The Senate committee singled out Macquarie Private … Continue reading

18 Jun 2014 (TheAge) – Higher super access age grossly unfair

[COMMENT: This article highlights some of the issues regarding raising the retirement age, and the superannuation access age. Myself, for one, don’t believe that older people want to wait until into their 70s before they retire and access their superannuation. Many people will be lucky to live that long! Retirement years are supposed to be … Continue reading

26 Jun 2014 (TheAge) – Aurizon cuts harder and deeper as resources slump weaken demand for haulage

(26 June 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p24, Jenny Wiggins) ‘Aurizon has launched a fresh round of cost cutting, getting rid of more jobs and locomotives and postponing rail projects as the resources slump weakens demand for its haulage services.’ ‘Aurizon chief executive Lance Hockridge said the company needed a comprehensive response to the subdued resources … Continue reading

25 Jun 2014 (AFR) – How to pick a closet index fund

[COMMENT: An article in this week’s Smart Investor pages of the AFR on managed funds. Also see an earlier article on a very siilar topic – Transparency will flush out the closet indexers.] (25 June 2014, AFR, Smart Investor, p21, Matthew Smith) ‘Some of Australia’s biggest fund ­managers are continuing to charge top dollar for … Continue reading

25 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Mirabela recovery the toast of distressed debt scene

(25 June 2014, AFR, p16, Amanda Saunders) ‘Mirabela Nickel will be handed back to its directors on Wednesday and is poised to relist on the ASX after a stunning comeback that has the country’s distressed debt scene frothing. Brought to its knees in October after losing half its customer base and facing the forced closure of … Continue reading

25 Jun 2014 (AFR) – London Metal Exchange decides open outcry trading ring will stay

[COMMENT: Well! Well! Well! So this old tradition still exists in some places!] (25 June 2014, AFR, p11, Eric Onstad) ‘The London Metal Exchange will keep its open outcry trading ring, bucking a trend by most other markets to shift to all-electronic operations. In the ring, a circle of padded red-leather seats, traders use arcane … Continue reading

25 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Abe says 15 years of deflation now over

(25 June 2014, AFR, p12, Isabel Reynolds and Toru Fujioka) ‘Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, said the deflation that wiped out much of Japan’s growth over the past 15 years and so stunted the economy that it slipped to number three behind China has ended and will be thwarted by new policies designed to encourage business … Continue reading

25 Jun 2014 (TheAge, SMH) – Six questions for your financial planner

(25 June 2014, The Age, MONEY, p6, John Addis) ‘Most investors need reliable financial advice. The problem is in finding it.’ ‘There are about 18,000 financial planners in Australia. The vast majority – perhaps up to 85 per cent – are associated with a major bank or AMP, which means they either work for these … Continue reading

24 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Let’s put an end to corporate welfare

[COMMENT – This is a “Letter to the Editor”, following on from an interesting article on 19 June headlined Investors to be Shut Out. Well said Philip!] (24 June 2014, AFR, Letters to Editor, p43, Philip Carman, Personal Asset Services) ‘Maurice Newman is wrong (and possibly being disingenuous) to assert that “markets will become more … Continue reading

24 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Central banks adjust debt ahead of Fed

(24 June 2014, AFR, p22, Claire Jones) ‘Central banks plan to cut their exposure to longer-term debt to protect themselves from losses when the Federal Reserve ends its bond buying this [northern] autumn, increasing the risk of instability in global markets. The majority of respondents in a survey of reserve managers who control assets worth … Continue reading

24 Jun 2014 (AFR) – China manufacturing finally starts to grow – growth lifts $A

(24 June 2014, AFR, p14, Lisa Murray AFR correspondent) ‘China’s efforts to boost its economy through targeted lending, tax breaks and public spending is starting to pay off with a new private-sector business survey showing conditions improved for the first time in six months in June. Factory output and new orders increased by more than … Continue reading

24 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Household services boom puts a rocket under employment

(24 June 2014, AFR, p12, Yolanda Redrup) ‘Some may call her barking mad, but dog walker Beth Eveleigh can’t keep up with demand for her services. The founder of Dog Walking Melbourne abandoned her career as a nurse at the end of 2007 when she saw a gap in the market for dog walking. “The … Continue reading

23 Jun 2014 (TheAge) – Economists facing flak over ethics

[COMMENT: What!? The ethics of economists have been questioned?? This is a very interesting article touching a few aspects of the field of economics. Recommended reading.] (23 June 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p32, Ross Gittins) ‘Are economists ethical? Short answer: no more than most. Long answer: well, it’s not something they think about much. The … Continue reading

BullCharts version 4 coming soon…

Over the last few months the BullCharts developers and testers have been very busy working on many tweaks, changes, revisions and enhancements to the already popular Australian BullCharts charting software. Stay tuned to hear about the release of Version 4… coming soon.

21 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Structured debt at a post-GFC high

(21 June 2014, AFR, p41, Philip Baker) ‘In the lead-up to the financial crisis investment banks on Wall Street spent millions of dollars looking for a way to buy into the hedge fund business. These days it looks like they lend money to them so the hedge funds can buy the structured products the banks sell. Structured … Continue reading

21 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Cormann’s FoFA changes benefit banks, product pushers

(21 June 2014, AFR, p4, Christopher Joye) ‘Today when you walk into a financial institution and speak to someone about anything other than the most basic loan, deposit, or insurance product, you know they cannot receive kick-backs from the product provider if they give you “general advice”. That’s information limited to explaining the features and … Continue reading

20 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Fed chair Yellen unfazed by inflation risk

(20 June 2014, AFR, p29, John Kehoe AFR correspondent) ‘US Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen has dismissed concerns that a pick-up in inflation revealed this week will force the Fed to lift interest rates faster than anticipated. Persistent low inflation is more of a concern than rising price pressures, justifying “highly accommodative” policy for the … Continue reading

20 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Insider trading in one in four deals

[COMMENT: This research is gob-smacking!] (20 June 2014, AFR, p23, Andrew Ross Sorkin) ‘There is often a tip. Before many big mergers and acquisitions, word leaks out to select investors who seek to covertly trade on the information. Stocks and options move in unusual ways that aren’t immediately clear. Then news of the deals crosses … Continue reading

20 Jun 2014 (AFR) – Shares rally as Yellen hints at rates stability

(20 June 2014, AFR, p22, Sally Rose) ‘Australian shares posted their biggest daily jump in seven months amid a rally in global equities after the US Federal Reserve provided reassurance it plans to keep its monetary policy supportive for many months to come. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index jumped 85.5 points, 1.6 per cent, on Thursday … Continue reading