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20 Aug 2014 (AFR) – When a $US667m fine isn’t warning enough

(20 August 2014, AFR, p27, Financial Times, By Kara Scannell in New York and Martin Arnold in London) StanChart faces fresh $300m US settlement ‘Standard Chartered is in talks to pay up to $300m to New York’s top banking regulator to settle allegations it failed to identify suspicious transactions, despite promising to improve its procedures … Continue reading

20 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Healthzone directors charged with market manipulation

(20 August 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p38, Georgia Wilkins) ‘Three former directors of failed health-food chain Healthzone have been charged with conspiring to manipulate the company’s share price in the lead up to its collapse.  The Australian Securities and Investments Commission alleges former executive chairman Peter Roach and directors Michael (Ge) Wu and Robert Dulhunty … Continue reading

20 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Construction and mining player Watpac rebounds to $18m profit

(20 August 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p35, Carolyn Cummins) ‘Construction and mining services group Watpac has returned to the black after posting an after tax profit of $17.9 million for the year to June, thanks to new contracts and a business restructure. The result was a turnaround from the loss of…’ Read more at

20 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Land prices in outer suburbs at four-year lows

(20 August 2014, TheAge, BusinessDay, p32, Simon Johanson) ‘Land prices in Melbourne’s city-fringe housing estates are at four-year lows and likely to stay that way as the state government ramps up new land releases, figures show. Oliver Hume Real Estate Group data shows new home owners in the outer suburbs have given up their long-standing … Continue reading

20 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Dick Smith profit beats forecast as investor heads for exit

(20 August 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p26, Eli Greenblat) ‘Dick Smith will ratchet up its private label offering by as much as 40 per cent this year by introducing new product lines and launching electronic categories, such as security cameras, tablets and audio accessories, as it prepares to farewell its private equity owner, Anchorage Capital, … Continue reading

19 Aug 2014 (AFR) – London asking prices plummet the most in more than six years

(19 August 2014, AFR, p42, Jillian Ward) ‘London home sellers cut asking prices by the most in more than six years this month, adding to signs the property market in the UK capital is cooling. London values fell 5.9 per cent from the previous month to an average…’ Read more at (might need AFR login … Continue reading

18 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Perth property could plummet – Post boom hits Perth property

(18 August 2014, AFR, p9, Jonathan Barrett) ‘Perth is at risk of being awash with vacant offices and apartments as early as next year, as the end of boom time conditions hits the inner city market. The forecast increase in vacancy rates in the commercial and residential sectors is linked to the impending deluge of … Continue reading

18 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Mining towns lose boom-time lustre

(18 August 2014, AFR, p9, Tess Ingram ) ‘Property owners in the historic goldmining city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder have long enjoyed high yields and strong capital gains, backed by a strong resources industry.’ ‘Those days appear to be at an end for Kalgoorlie and other mining hubs around the country, such as Port Hedland, Karratha and … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Investors curb their enthusiasm for banks

(16 August 2014, AFR, p40, Philip Baker) ‘There’s still two more big weeks to play out in this reporting season but there have been a few notable themes. Bank stocks have traded sideways for the past few months. Yet if the latest results for Commonwealth Bank and the ANZ are anything to go by, there … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Revenue growth hard to come by

(16 August 2014, AFR, p40, Patrick Commins) ‘Companies are juggling a desire to keep shareholders happy with boosted dividends while keeping a war chest for acquisitions as revenue growth once again appears hard to come by this earnings season. Despite some high-profile cash splashes – exemplified by Telstra Corporation ’s announcement of a $1 billion share buyback … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – US home starts drag on James Hardie – expects lower full-year profit

(16 August 2014, AFR, p36, Tim Binsted) ‘Market darling James Hardie said its adjusted first-quarter net profit fell to $US50.1 million ($53.8 million) from $US52 million as increased competition, higher input costs and poor manufacturing performance weighed on the building products group. Revenue for the three months ended June 30 rose 12 per cent on the year-prior … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Fund manager ‘leeches’ should be squashed: Douglass

(16 August 2014, AFR, p7, Vesna Poljak and Jonathan Shapiro) ‘The head of Australia’s fastest-growing global investment manager, Hamish Douglass of Magellan Financial Group, has likened fund managers who charge high fees but deliver returns that barely beat the market to “leeches”. “They’re kind of hugging the index trying to charge active fees but adding … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Property zombies – The big dangers of our millionaire visas

(16 August 2014, AFR, p19, Angus Grigg Shanghai) ‘In Vancouver, Canada, they have become known as “zombie ­suburbs” – inner city areas dom­inated by new apartment de­velopments, which despite their wealth and population ­density have failed to thrive. They are not dead, but like the zombie, only half-living. Canadian urban planner Andy Yan coined the phrase … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Traffic forecasts send projects into a long dark tunnel – Traffic forecast trouble: ‘I feel another loss coming on’

(16 August 2014, AFR, p6, Marianna Papadakis) ‘ “I feel another loss coming on,” Tony Shepherd, the chair of a consortium that won the bid for the failed Lane Cove Tunnel project, told a colleague.’ <snipped…> ‘It’s a problem that has beset Brisbane’s RiverCity Motorway’s Clem7 and BrisConnections’ Airport Link. All are subject to court … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Macquarie begins compensation task

(16 August 2014, AFR, p5, Georgia Wilkins) ‘Macquarie Group will begin contacting current and former clients of its wealth division about possible compensation for bad financial advice, the corporate regulator says. It comes more than 18 months after the group entered an enforceable undertaking with the regulator, de­signed to identify poor compliance. The remediation process will … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Europe’s economic recovery stalls

(16 August 2014, AFR, p12, David Jolly) ‘This was supposed to be the year that the European economy decisively broke free of its shackles. But after a dismal round of economic growth reports on Thursday, the main question appears to be whether the euro zone will avoid tumbling back into recession. Germany and Italy both … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Earnings spark fireworks on local sharemarket

(16 August, 2014, AFR, p40, Max Mason – online > MarketWrap5pm) ‘Strong earnings from some of Australia’s largest and most widely owned companies have helped the Australian sharemarket post its best week since February. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 surged 131.3 points, or 2.4 per cent, to 5566.5 for the week, while the All Ordinaries gained 130 points, or 2.4 per … Continue reading

16 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Cyclical stagnation in Europe as economy stumbles

(16 August 2014, AFR, p20, THE ECONOMIST) ‘This week’s figures for the euro zone economy were dispiriting by any measure. An already feeble and faltering recovery has stumbled. Output across the euro area was flat in the second quarter. That followed a poor start to the year when the single-currency club managed to grow by … Continue reading

15 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Iron ore hits eight-week low, but green shoots on horizon

(15 August 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p26, Peter Ker) ‘The benchmark iron ore price may have fallen to a 55-day low, but most signals suggest the price will rebound over coming months. Australia’s most lucrative export commodity was fetching $US93.20 a tonne on Thursday, having fallen on each of the past four trading days. Iron … Continue reading

15 Aug 2014 (TheAge) – Property developer jailed for ‘Titanic’ $100m investment scheme

(15 August 2014, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Georgia Wilkins) ‘Property developer Mark Letten has been sentenced to 5 years and 8 months’ jail for operating what a judge described as the “Titanic” of unregistered investment schemes, worth $100 million.’ Read more at

15 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Cisco cuts 6000 jobs as CEO forecasts stagnant growth

(15 August 2014, AFR, p31, Peter Burrows) ‘Cisco Systems is cutting 6000 jobs and forecasting little to no revenue growth in the current quarter amid a slump in demand from phone and cable companies, and weakness in emerging markets. The world’s largest networking-equipment maker, which has about 74,000 employees, said it will take a pre-tax … Continue reading

15 Aug 2014 (AFR) – German and French economies in trouble

(15 August 2014, AFR, p31, Alessandro Speciale) ‘Germany’s economy contracted more than economists forecast last quarter and France stagnated, adding to pressure on the euro area as the Ukraine crisis and slowing inflation threaten to derail the region’s recovery.’ ‘Gross domestic product in Germany, the currency bloc’s largest economy, fell 0.2 per cent from the first … Continue reading

15 Aug 2014 (AFR) – China property developer Shui On Land issues downgrade

(15 August 2014, AFR, p30, Lisa Murray AFR correspondent) ‘One of China’s most high- profile property developers issued a substantial profit downgrade on Thursday after its sales more than halved last month, stoking fears that the real estate sector is damaging the country’s growth prospects.’ Read more at (might need AFR login access)

15 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Fund managers move to cash as risks rise

(15 August 2014, AFR, p23, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman) ‘An increasing number of investors are switching out of equities and back into cash as fears about geopolitical ­concerns, rising US interest rates and a sharemarket correction prompt investors to reposition global portfolios. The amount of money sitting in cash within global portfolios is at its highest level … Continue reading

14 Aug 2014 (AFR) – US first homebuyers shut out of growing supply

(14 August 2014, AFR, p49, Prashant Gopal) ‘The four-bedroom house that Ilia Nielsen-Dembe purchased in west Denver earlier this year wasn’t her top choice. The first-time buyer had to settle on a home in a neighbourhood with a high crime rate after losing bids for five properties in more-desirable areas.’ <snipped…> ‘The number of US … Continue reading

14 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Brisbane apartment boom raises oversupply fears

(14 August 2014, AFR, p40, Matthew Cranston) ‘The first early warnings have been issued for investors in Brisbane’s booming apartment market with valuers and questioning the enthusiasm behind acquisitions and highlighting a softening in market fundamentals.’ ‘LandMark White’s latest Brisbane research report, titled A Balancing Act, asks whether there are now risks of an oversupply due … Continue reading

14 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Japan’s economy shrinks on tax rise pain

(14 August 2014, AFR, p14, Keiko Ujikane) ‘Japan’s economy contracted the most since the big earthquake three years ago as consumption and investment plunged after a sales tax increase in April aimed at curbing the world’s biggest debt burden.’ Read more at (might need AFR login access), or at

14 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Panic over China credit slump

(14 August 2014, AFR, p14, Lisa Murray and Angus Grigg AFR correspondents) ‘China’s central bank is ­urging calm after a shock plunge in lending growth during July raised fears of a hard landing in the world’s second biggest economy without ­government intervention. A sharp slowdown in the property market and fears about corporate defaults combined to … Continue reading

14 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Perth facing apartment glut

(14 August 2014, AFR, p10, Jonathan Barrett) ‘Perth faces an apartment glut from a cooling economy and slow population growth that are likely to leave the city with too many rooms. Property analysts expect the former boom town, which has previously experienced housing shortages, to have an over-supply of apartments as early as next year … Continue reading

13 Aug 2014 (AFR) – Sydney spurs strong house price growth

(13 August 2014, AFR, p39, Larry Schlesinger) ‘Property prices ended the 2014 financial year up a healthy 10.1 per cent with Sydney and Melbourne making the biggest gains, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Over the June quarter, the eight capital city index rose 1.8 per cent compared with 1.7 per cent in the March quarter. ­’ Read more … Continue reading