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24 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Vendors slash asking prices to find willing buyers

(24 Feb 2015, AFR, p38, Larry Schlesinger) ‘The property market may be running hot, but it’s not running hot for everyone. A survey by property price predictor realAs.com of almost 3000 homes up for sale across Australia found that vendors had on average cut their asking prices by 2.7 per cent between December and February. … Continue reading

24 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Sydney home buyers pay steep price for certainty

(24 Feb 2015, AFR, p38, Samantha Hutchinson) ‘Buyers frustrated by a lack of stock and exhausting home searches in Sydney are shelling out premiums of up to $60,000 to secure homes before they get to auction. “There’s a lack of stock, and frustrated buyers are digging deep,”McGrath agent Simon Exleton said.’ Read more at AFR.com … Continue reading

24 Feb 2015 (AFR) – $500m pay cut (lower rates) drive SMSFs to shares

(24 Feb 2015, AFR, p21, Philip Baker) ‘No one likes taking a pay cut of any size, let alone one worth $500 million. But that’s how much self-managed super funds are out of pocket when the Reserve Bank of Australia cuts the official cash rate by one quarter of a percentage point, according to Credit … Continue reading

24 Feb 2015 (AFR) – NAB boss Andrew Thorburn defends bank after rogue planner scandal

(24 Feb 2015, AFR, p11, Nassim Khadem and James Eyers) ‘NAB boss Andrew Thorburn has defended the reputation of its financial planning arm and its head of wealth, saying that while there has been some misconduct associated with rogue planners, the bank has tried to move quickly to address cases of misconduct that have been … Continue reading

24 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Greek leaders face revolt at home as they try to appease creditors

(24 Feb 2015, AFR, p9, James Kanter and Niki Kitsantonis) ‘Greek leaders are scrambling to come up with a list of proposed changes to the nation’s austerity program that would be acceptable to their creditors, even as they faced a revolt by members of their own radical-left party, angered that the government had bent to … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR, FinTimes) – Lies, damned lies and 12-month fund results – Fund managers manipulate data to make performance look better

[COMMENT: Now roll me in honey and stick me on an ant hill!! Some people have been saying exactly this for a long time. For anyone who invests in managed funds, this story is compelling reading. For many of us, it simply confirms something that we have thought might be the case. But this research … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Greek concession buys time and may prevent a run on banks

(23 Feb 2015, AFR, p13, Karen Maley) ‘Politicians will never knowingly risk triggering a bank run, and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has proved that, despite his radical convictions, he is no exception to the rule. Faced with a steep escalation in withdrawals from Greek bank accounts…’ Read more at AFr.com (might need AFR login … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR) – NAB compensation sparks calls for wider financial planning industry inquiry

(23 Feb 2015, AFR, p13, Clancy Yeates and Adele Ferguson) White collar crime inquiry vital ‘Calls are growing for a royal commission into the entire financial planning industry as a new leaked document reveals National Australia Bank identified five key areas within its wealth advisory activities for further investigation. It was revealed by Fairfax Media … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Deutsche Bank, Santander may fail Fed’s stress tests, claim

(23 Feb 2015, AFR, p9, Elizabeth Dexheimer, Bloomberg) ‘Deutsche Bank AG and Banco Santander SA are among European banks that probably will fail Federal Reserve stress tests of their US operations this year because they’re not good enough at measuring their risks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.’ Read more … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR) – China’s banks poised to write off billions in bad debts

(23 Feb 2015, AFR, p9, Angus Grigg and Ben Potter) ‘China’s state-owned banks are about to begin the painful process of writing off billions of dollars in bad debts, as Beijing seeks to avoid Japanese-style stagnation from a failure to address problem loans. Accounting firms are among those preparing for a spike in bad loans … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (AFR) – ‘Truly extraordinary’ Sydney auction market clears 87pc

(23 Feb 2015, AFR, p3, Mercedes Ruehl) ‘Sydney’s red-hot property market recorded its third week straight of a preliminary auction clearance rate above 80 per cent this weekend.Preliminary figures from RP Data showed an auction clearance rate of 87.8 per cent across 633 auction results. Domain Group senior economist Dr Andrew Wilson said Sydney’s auction … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (TheAge, SMH) – Austerity rollback rolled back – Greece back-pedalling on anti-austerity push

(23 Feb 2015, The Age, p14, Andrew Higgins, Brussels) ‘Just a month ago, after being propelled to power by a wave of anger at Greece’s economic miseries, Alexis Tsipras declared his Syriza party’s election victory the start of a Europe-wide revolt against austerity. “Europe is going to change,” he said before setting off on a … Continue reading

23 Feb 2015 (TheAge,SMH) – Investors taking on more risk under record low rates

[COMMENT:  *** Warning *** At times of easy credit, too many unsuspecting retail investors do take on too much risk, and too much leverage, and many end up losing money if the markets fall.] (23 Feb 2015, The Age, BusinessDay, p25, Clancy Yeates) ‘Banks say more clients are using borrowed money to invest in shares, … Continue reading

21 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Share valuations at ‘scary levels’ – approach tech-boom levels

(21 Feb 2015, AFR, p40, Patrick Commins) ‘The sharemarket is the most expensive it has ever been outside of the worst excesses of the dot-com bubble, as global investors in recent weeks have joined Australian in a headlong chase for yield.’ Read more at AFR.com (might need AFR login access)

21 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Strong earnings growth needed to feed the bulls

(21 Feb 2015, AFR, p28, Philip Baker) ‘It is sometimes said that when shares embark on a new bull market it can be like starting up a car that hasn’t been used for a few years. On your own you brush away the cobwebs and turn the key in the ignition. After a few goes, … Continue reading

21 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Property shortage drives surge in Sydney land prices

(21 Feb 2015, AFR, p9, Larry Schlesinger) ‘The average price of a Sydney residential lot increased by 20 per cent to $390,000 in 2014, according to figures compiled by Fairfax-owned Domain Group. Melbourne and Perth also recorded double-digit surges, but still offer significantly more affordable land prices – although lot sizes are smaller. Prices rose … Continue reading

20 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Where to next for ASX? – Technical signs chart ASX on track to hit 6400 this year

(20 Feb 2015, AFR, p23, Richard Lie) ‘The Australian stock market has not looked this healthy in years. Since the GFC bottom, the ASX 200 has been in a long-term uptrend, putting in a series of higher highs and higher lows along the way. It hasn’t all been plain sailing – it tested investors’ patience … Continue reading

20 Feb 2015 (TheAge) – Food and mobile phones boost mall sales

(20 Feb 2015, The Age, BusinessDay, p24, Carolyn Cummins) ‘Mobile phone sales, supermarkets and a turnaround in the performance of discount department stores all helped to underpin the half-year results for Federation Centre and Charter Hall Retail REIT. Both landlords own shopping centres dominated by food retailers with an array of speciality stores and some … Continue reading

19 Feb 2015 (AFR) – China faces up to challenge of ‘peak steel’

(19 Feb 2015, AFR, p29, Henry Sanderson) ‘Zhang Guangning, who was elected chairman of the China Iron and Steel Association last month, did not mince his words when he gave his first speech. As China’s economy entered a “new normal”, the steel industry faced unprecedented challenges, said Mr Zhang, a lifelong steel man who started … Continue reading

19 Feb 2015 (AFR, Bloomberg) – Greece Poised to Request Six-Month Loan Extension

(19 Feb 2015, AFR, p15, Jonathan Stearns and Brian Parkin, Bloomberg) ‘(Bloomberg) — Greece may request an extension of its loan agreement for six months, according to a person familiar with the matter, a step that could ease a standoff with creditors over the country’s future financing. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government intends to make … Continue reading

19 Feb 2015 (AFR, NYTimes) – Greek Bureaucracy, Not Just Austerity, Is an Economic Drag

(19 Feb 2015, AFR, p15, By LIZ ALDERMAN) ‘ATHENS — Yannis Stamatiou is one of this country’s many business owners who say Greece’s economic problems are not just about austerity. Just ask him about the bureaucracy, which the new government has vowed to streamline but is a snarl of rules, decades in the making, that … Continue reading

18 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Oil traders find reasons to be cheerful while others in despair

(18 Feb 2015, AFR, p25, Neil Hume) ‘…After several years of flat markets, falling profits and declining margins, oil traders are enjoying the most favourable trading conditions since the global financial crisis in 2008.’ <snipped…> ‘  “2015 could be an interesting year,” said Roland Rechtsteiner, partner at Oliver Wyman, a consultancy. “There is a high … Continue reading

18 Feb 2015 (AFR) – ANZ’s Smith predicts tougher year as global growth slows – after ANZ hits stumbling block in Asia

(18 Feb 2015, AFR, p13, Clancy Yeates) ‘ANZ Bank chief executive Mike Smith says the lender faces a tougher environment in 2015, after key businesses driving its push into Asia were hit by tumbling commodity prices and a surprise drop in trading revenue. Investors punished the country’s third largest bank after it unveiled a soft … Continue reading

18 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Capital flight looks like a ‘crisis’ for China

(18 Feb 2015, AFR, p12, Angus Grigg Shanghai) ‘A senior government official in Beijing has likened conditions in China to those that existed in the lead-up to the 1997 Asian financial crisis, as capital flight gathers pace in the world’s second-biggest economy. Guan Tao, the director of international settlements at the State Administration of Foreign … Continue reading

17 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Oil discoveries decline to 20-year low

[COMMENT: Is this “peak oil”? Have we hit it yet? Did we hit “peak oil” a few years ago? What now?] (17 Feb 2015, AFR, p24, Ed Crooks) ‘Discoveries of new oil and gas reserves dropped to their lowest level in at least two decades last year, pointing to tighter world supplies as energy demand … Continue reading

17 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Japan out of recsssion as the yen falls – Japan limps ahead on weak growth…

(17 Feb 2015, AFR, p22, Vesna Poljak) ‘The Japanese economy has failed to deliver the burst of growth that economists were counting on as it exits recession, recording an expansion of only 2.2 per cent during the December quarter as the flipside to the falling yen and stagnant wages took its toll. The sluggish result … Continue reading

17 Feb 2015 (AFR,Bloomberg) – Japan’s economy limps out of recession – With Growth Below Estimates

(17 Feb 2015, AFR, p14, Keiko Ujikane, Bloomberg) ‘(Bloomberg) — Japan’s economy expanded less than economists estimated in the fourth quarter, underlining the difficulty in stoking growth while export gains are undermined by weak investment and consumption at home. Gross domestic product grew at an annualized 2.2 percent, less than a median forecast for a … Continue reading

17 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Trading volumes lift as miners step up – BHP, Rio shares lead mining’s rise as oil, iron ore rebounds

(17 Feb 2015, AFR, p19, Bianca Hartge-Hazelman) ‘Trading volumes in Australian shares have nearly doubled to more than $7 billion this February reporting season with fund managers forced back into the market as a rebound in commodity prices and expectations of lower rates spur investor appetite for risk taking. So far only a small number … Continue reading

17 Feb 2015 (TheAustn) – Network Ten a big winner as ad spending picks up in January

(17 Feb 2015, The Australian, p21, Lara Sinclair) ‘THE fortunes of the advertising market in general and Network Ten in particular look a little brighter with the release of media agency bookings that showed the advertising market rose 1.8 per cent in January to $467 million.’ ‘The metropolitan television market was up 1.3 per cent … Continue reading

16 Feb 2015 (AFR) – Interest rate cut has instant impact at property auctions – Drives another strong auctions weekend

(16 Feb 2015, AFR, Larry Schlesinger) ‘The February Reserve Bank rate cut put more heat into the property market over the weekend with CoreLogic RP Data recording a national preliminary clearance rate of 70 per cent compared with 67.3 per cent last week. “The market performed to recent trend this week and results between now … Continue reading