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31 Mar 2017 (AFR) – HIA new home sales jump in WA for second month; New home sales drop 12.6pc in NSW

(31 March 2017, AFR, p35, by Michael Bleby) ‘WA propped up new home sales in February, suggesting the state’s weakened housing market has bottomed, the latest Housing Industry Association figures showed.  Detached house sales in WA rose 11.3 per cent in February to 1,121 – the state’s highest monthly total in almost a year – and along … Continue reading

31 Mar 2017 (AFR) – China Iron and Steel paints bearish picture for iron ore producers

(31 March 2017, AFR, p28, by Tess Ingram) ‘The China Iron and Steel Association has painted a challenging picture for Australia’s iron ore producers, arguing Chinese steel demand has entered an “era of reduction” and will decline in 2017.  CISA represents China’s biggest state-owned steel mills and generates forecasts used by Beijing to help formulate … Continue reading

31 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Late mortgage payments on the rise: S&P

(31 March 2017, AFR, p27, by Jonathan Shapiro) ‘Home loan arrears are rising at a faster than usual pace, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s, which tracks delinquencies in mortgage-backed bonds. The percentage of delinquent mortgages increased from 1.15 per cent in December to 1.29 per cent in January, the agency said, pointing out … Continue reading

30 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Stake lifts the bar for trading US stocks and ETFs

(30 March 2017, AFR, p17, by James Eyers) ‘It was during a three-year stint in Chicago, working for market maker Optiver, that Matt Leibowitz realised Australians were getting gouged buying international equities through the brokerages owned by the big banks and the customer experience was woeful. ‘ <snipped…> ‘…The culmination of his thinking is Stake, an … Continue reading

30 Mar 2017 (AFR) – How the Rich Invest: Fruit, vegetables and property boost Frank Costa’s wealth

(30 March 2017, AFR, p25, by John Stensholt) The Australian Financial Review looks at how the wealthy are making money for our column: How the rich invest. ‘Frank Costa has played an integral role in a rare event on the ASX: a successful float involving private equity. His fruit and vegetable giant, Costa Group, which … Continue reading

30 Mar 2017 (AFR,LexColumn) – Coal yes, but no rescue for Homer Simpson – Climate change rollback is false spring for Appalachia

(30 March 2017, AFR, p23, by The Lex Column) ‘Chief executives are paid to be ahead of the times. But for America’s CEO president, an affection for coal mining shows little of the vision that US power producers have lately demonstrated. Mr Trump is rolling back six Obama-era environmental protection rules in a sop to … Continue reading

30 Mar 2017 (AFR,Bloomberg) – Britain heads into the unknown as May signs Brexit letter

(30 March 2017, AFR, p10, Simon Kennedy, Tim Ross, Bloomberg) ‘The U.K. will start the clock on two years of negotiations to withdraw from the European Union on Wednesday, a divorce that will redefine the country’s relationship with its largest trading partner and bring to an end decades of deepening political integration on the continent. … Continue reading

29 Mar 2017 (AFR) – US travel industry fears a ‘lost decade’ under Donald Trump – Tighter visa rules could pile on the pain for travel industry

(29 March 2017, AFR, p11, by Justin Bachman) ‘Like many Washington lobby groups, the US Travel Association was quick to congratulate the new president on his victory last November. “We are encouraged that Mr Trump’s extensive business and hospitality background will make him a ready and receptive ear,” the trade organisation said. Upon the Republican’s … Continue reading

29 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Donald Trump’s next job: avoid government shutdown

(29 March 2017, AFR, p11, by John Kehoe) ‘US President Donald Trump is trying to revive his presidency after the healthcare debacle, but before nailing tax reform he will need to avert a government shutdown.  The potential for a government closure is not high on the radar of Wall Street, but is a sleeper issue in … Continue reading

28 Mar 2017 (AFR) – More institutional investors to add ETFs to portfolios

(28 March 2017, AFR, p29, by James Frost) ‘Assets managed by Australian exchange-traded fund providers are poised for their next leg up with more than half of institutional buyers indicating plans to ramp up their allocation to the investment vehicles in the future. The survey of 35 institutions, which included five of the top industry … Continue reading

27 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Trump faces tax test after healthcare failure

(27 March 2017, AFR, p11, by John Kehoe) ‘Donald Trump’s humiliating failure to unify the Republican Party on implementing its top priority for the past seven years – to unwind the “Obamacare” health insurance safety net – has forced the President to switch course to focus now on tax reform. As the Republican healthcare bill … Continue reading

27 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Sydney property auction clearance rate hits 2017 high of 81.1p

(27 March 2017, AFR, p3, by Michael Bleby) ‘Sydney’s auction clearance rate rose to 81.1 per cent in the week to Saturday, its highest so far this year, driven by demand for the city’s inner-ring and northern suburbs. The $3.83 million sale of a four-bedroom family house in the inner-city suburb of Annandale – $430,000 … Continue reading

27 Mar 2017 (TheAge) – Investors hope for Trump trade 2.0

(27 March 2017, The Age, BusinessDay, p23, Timothy Moore) ‘The failed Republican effort to repeal Obamacare may have cast doubts on US President Donald Trump’s talents as negotiator but it’s unlikely to end the eight-year bull market. In a sign of the enduring enthusiasm for equities, Wall Street’s key benchmarks rebounded on Friday following news that the Obamacare replacement … Continue reading

25 Mar 2017 (AFR) – ASX claws back lost ground after biggest drop in 2017

(25 March 2017, AFR, p26, by Myriam Robin) ‘The Australian sharemarket ended the week on a positive note despite jitters surrounding the passing of US healthcare legislation, billed as the first big test of the Trump administration’s legislative prowess. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 rose 0.8 per cent to 5753.5 on Friday, narrowing the weekly loss to just … Continue reading

25 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Markets will climb despite Donald Trump not because of him

(25 March 2017, AFR, p22, by Patrick Commins) ‘The story goes it was fears over a stalling Trump policy agenda that gave global sharemarkets this week their worst day since the November US election. It was a pretty minor move in the scheme of things: a 1.2 per cent fall in the S&P 500 on … Continue reading

24 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Trumponomics loses its mojo amid Capitol Hill’s turf battles

(24 March 2017, AFR, p29, by Edward Luce) ‘All bull markets die. The question with President Donald Trump’s boom is whether it is heading for an early grave. Tuesday’s sharp sell-off, the largest daily drop since October, should have come as little surprise. US equity valuations have risen by a tenth since Mr Trump won … Continue reading

24 Mar 2017 (AFR) – The Cape measure also suggests US equities are overvalued

(24 March 2017, AFR, p29, by The Lex Column) ‘Number-crunchers have been trying to calm the market hive mind for years. This week they may feel as though they’re getting somewhere. As Cape, the cyclically adjusted price-earnings multiple, hit a near two-decade high, the S&P 500 had its worst day since the US election. By … Continue reading

24 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Reserve Bank trapped by housing, says PIMCO

(24 March 2017, AFR, p20, by Jonathan Shapiro) ‘PIMCO’s Australian head Rob Mead says indebted households have caught the Reserve Bank in a trap.  While the US Federal Reserve may put its foot firmly on the brake if it needs to slow its economy, a slight tap by the RBA may prove too jarring.  The reason … Continue reading

24 Mar 2017 (TheAge) – S&P says Aussie-managed funds underperform

(24 March 2017, The Age, BusinessDay, p25, Myriam Robin) ‘Only 10 per cent of the Australian managed funds that outperformed their benchmark index in 2014 were able to do so consistently for the following two years, according to research by S&P Dow Jones Indices.’ Read more at

23 Mar 2017 (TheAge) – Iron ore prices ease as Chinese demand tipped to slow – Iron ore slumps the most so far this year

(23 March 2017, The Age, BusinessDay, p25, by Timothy Moore) ‘Iron ore prices have come under pressure as Chinese steel mills appear to be nearing the end of their current stockpile build, but analysts are not yet expecting a prolonged selloff. The spot price for iron ore slid $US3.90 to $US87.59 a tonne on Tuesday … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Fat Prophets (ASX:FPC) edges up on thin volumes

(23 March 2017, AFR, p17, by James Frost) ‘The listed investment company established by stock pickers at Fat Prophets got off to an encouraging start on low volumes after making its ASX debut on Wednesday morning. After opening at 11am, the Fat Prophets Global Contrarian Fund made its debut with a cross trade at $1.50 … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – ‘One big house of cards’ – Brisbane developer offers brokers ‘massive’ $35,000 townhouse commission

(23 March 2017, AFR, p31, by Larry Schlesinger) ‘A Brisbane project marketing firm is offering selling agents “massive” commissions to flog townhouses off-the-plan to investors in the city’s outer suburbs.’ <snipped…> ‘ “It’s one big house of cards and dodgy spruikers are getting to unsuspecting investors who think they are getting a deal,” said Sydney … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Property investors, agents lured with discounts, holidays, perks

[COMMENT: Now, I have to ask you. What does this tell us about the state of the property market? Is this the sort of thing that happens towards the market top when developers start to have trouble selling their projects?] (23 March 2017, AFR, p31, by Duncan Hughes) ‘Lenders and developers are offering property investors … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Iron ore slumps the most so far this year – as China eases stockpiling

(23 March 2017, AFR, p25, by Timothy Moore) ‘Iron ore prices have come under pressure as Chinese steel mills appear to be nearing the end of their current stockpile build, but analysts are not yet expecting a prolonged selloff. The spot price for iron ore slid $US3.90 to $US87.59 a tonne on Tuesday night, the … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Global fundies warn shares are overvalued

(23 March 2017, AFR, p25, by Jens Meyer) ‘An exit from equities for big money could be on the cards after a record number of global fund managers reckon that stocks are overvalued, according to a survey. In Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s monthly survey of 200 global investors representing close to $US600 billion in assets … Continue reading

23 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Why the huge slide in US bank stocks is a big worry for investors

(23 March 2017, AFR, by Karen Maley) ‘Financial stocks tend to act as a bellwether for the broader share market. They perform strongly when investors are optimistic that a pick-up in economic recovery will boost consumer and investor demand for credit, and they are quick to feel the pain when investor sentiment sours. That’s why last night’s … Continue reading

22 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Vacancies on the rise on Melbourne’s retail strips

(22 March 2017, AFR, p38, by Larry Schlesinger) ‘Vacancy rates are rising on Melbourne’s once bustling suburban retail strips as landlords battle to attract new tenants amid tough retail conditions and the surge in foreign retailers opening glitzy new stores in the CBD and revamped mega malls. An audit of 28 Melbourne retail strips by real … Continue reading

22 Mar 2017 (AFR) – `Skyscraper curse’ claims new victim in Lotte’s $4 billion tower

(22 March 2017, AFR, p37, by Bruce Einhorn and Sohee Kim The glass-bottomed observation deck sitting 118 storeys up in the Seoul sky isn’t for the faint of heart. That condition would apply to the tower’s builder, the beleaguered Lotte Group, as well.’ <snipped…> ‘Record-setting skyscrapers and economic hard times are no strangers, said Andrew … Continue reading

22 Mar 2017 (AFR) – Investor faith tested as Donald Trump’s tonic starts to wear thin

(22 March 2017, AFR, p33, by Karen Maley) ‘These are testing times for investors. Global sharemarkets surged following Donald Trump’s election as US President, but faith in the “reflation trade” is fraying, as investors realise he could be facing a lengthy battle in fulfilling his campaign pledge to reverse key parts of the Obama administration’s Affordable … Continue reading

22 Mar 2017 (AFR) – OECD warns China on debt, overcapacity

(22 March 2017, AFR, p12, by Angus Grigg) ‘China needs to address high corporate debt levels and over-capacity in the real estate and heavy industrial sectors if it is to achieve an “orderly rebalancing” of its economy, according to the world’s premier economic grouping. The annual China Survey from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and … Continue reading