Tag Archives: Worries

Shares in India’s Jet slide on Etihad deal worries

Jet-AirwaysMUMBAI: Shares in Jet Airways plunged nearly six percent Friday on concerns over whether India’s second largest private airline will clinch a stake sale to Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways.

Shares fell 6.19 percent before recovering slightly to close down 5.81 percent at 527.35 rupees as a media report said “fresh hurdles” had emerged in talks with the Gulf carrier over its plans to buy a stake in Jet.

“Etihad has put a host of conditions, including an option to buy up to 49 percent stake in Jet,” the Business Standard said on Friday, citing an unnamed source.

The Gulf airline also wants operational control and a representation on Jet’s board, the newspaper said. The Indian carrier declined to comment on the report.

Several Indian airlines have been in talks with foreign carriers after the government last year opened up the aviation sector further to allow non-Indian airlines to invest in their counterparts in the country.

Indian carriers need money to fund expansion and cut debt after years of losses caused by intense air-fare battles and rising fuel costs.

The Jet-Etihad development comes after Asia’s biggest low-cost airline, AirAsia, this week announced plans for a no-frills carrier in the country with India’s Tata conglomerate.

The venture awaits government and regulatory approval.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

Western Qld to air gas worries


Queensland Gasfields Commission chairman John Cotter says he wants input from the state’s western communities into how to improve co-existence between the agricultural and gas industries.


Mr Cotter and other commission representatives will visit Longreach in the central west today and tomorrow, including an inspection of the first gas production pilot in the Galilee Basin.


There is no commercial gas production yet from the basin but several companies are exploring.


Mr Cotter says the central-west is a new frontier for coal seam gas (CSG).


“There’s no production up there yet but there is a lot of interest,” he said.


“There are a lot of tenements up there and absolutely we are very keen to see that all parties get it right from the start.


“The indications I’ve had from some of the proponents with tenements has been very positive.


“We want to hear the landowners’ issues and concerns.”


Mr Cotter says it will also be forming a new leaders council to liaise with the commission.


“The main aim is to get up there and see what impact and activities are in that area and also putting together a northern leaders council, which will be for all of the northern part of the state,” he said.


“We want those people on board there to feed in the sort of information that we believe the commission should be well versed on.”


He says he wants local initiatives to be developed, to improve co-existence between the rural and gas sectors.


“When these industries roll on, be whatever they are, there is a wider activity going on like the use of roads, the use of water and the way water is managed,” he said.


“All of those issues are what we want to hear from the community out there.


“As the industry develops we want to make sure there is a good relationship built, there is a good understanding based on factual knowledge.”


Rural lobby group AgForce says it wants to ensure mistakes made in southern Queensland with the massive growth of the CSG sector do not happen in other regions.


AgForce spokeswoman Sue Dillon says producers are worried about the impact of any development on water supplies.


“The absolute, most important thing is that we get this right in this area from the start,” she said.


“Learn the lessons from the past and make sure that any production that does go ahead, is under really good practices, producers are happy and are compensated fairly.


“There is a whole range of things, but it is really about getting it right from the start.”


Longreach Mayor Joe Owens says he wants a reassurance from the commission that strict conditions will be applied to any CSG production established in the Galilee Basin.


Councillor Owens says safeguarding water supplies should be a priority.


“Being a new industry, people are always very sceptical of what’s happening,” he said.


“We just have to put trust in the companies themselves and in the strict controls the Government departments have put on them that everything is being done and there is no risk.


“Just to try and get that reassurance that everything that can possibly be done is being done to safeguard the artesian basin and landholder rights.


“I do have concerns that if something does go wrong it could harm the Great Artesian Basin.


“They tell us that everything is safe – you have to hope that everything is going according to plan.”

Topics: activism-and-lobbying, local-government, public-sector, oil-and-gas, mining-rural, mining-environmental-issues, mining-industry, longreach-4730, mount-isa-4825, toowoomba-4350

First posted February 11, 2013 08:58:52

NBN pledge fails to quell outback satellite worries


An outback Queensland mayor says remote communities are still pushing ahead with a plan to get fibre optic cable to their shires, despite a new promise by the Federal Government.


The Government yesterday announced remote internet users would get faster speeds under the National Broadband Network (NBN), over the fixed wireless network and the satellite service.


Diamantina Mayor Geoff Morton says despite faster speeds, satellite will always have a time delay, making it unsuitable for certain applications, such as e-medicine.


“Because it is satellite, because there is a time delay, it can never be used for high-tech medical applications, some of the education applications, several things that satellite will never be able to do,” he said.


“That is readily admitted by those in the industry.


“Satellite is good but it can only go so far, whereas optic fibre, it goes as far as it can ever go in the future.


“Everything with a satellite has a time delay, they cannot eradicate that.


“I’ve got satellite phones, I’ve got satellite TV, I’ve got satellite internet – no matter what happens, they cannot match copper wire or optic fibre for speed and reliability.


“With all the satellite gear I’ve got, it’s affected by the weather, clouds, dust storms.”

Topics: telecommunications, regional, access-to-education, healthcare-facilities, agribusiness, regional-development, longreach-4730, mount-isa-4825, toowoomba-4350

US markets ease on employment worries


US share markets have closed down, on the back of negative employment figures and some disappointing profit results.


Figures showed an increase in the number of claims for unemployment benefits, ahead of an update on the official jobless rate tonight.


Oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell has been among the firms to disappoint with its earnings results – its shares fell around 2.5 per cent.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 50 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 13,861, while the S&P 500 fell 4 points to 1,498.


The former boss of a small financial company in the American mid-west has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for stealing more than $200 million from his customers.


Russell Wasendorf founded Peregrine Financial Group in the basement of his Iowa home but admitted to stealing funds over nearly two decades.


In Europe, disappointing profit results also led markets lower, with London’s FTSE 100 down 46 points, or 0.7 per cent, to 6,277.


France’s CAC 30 fell 0.9 per cent and the German DAX lost nearly 0.5 per cent.


Despite that, local futures trade on the ASX SPI 200 was up 5 points at 4,850.


On commodity markets, spot gold was weaker at $US1,661 an ounce.


West Texas intermediate crude oil also slipped slightly to $US97.30 a barrel.


The Australian dollar was trading higher against the greenback.


Around 9:00am (AEDT) it was buying 104.25 US cents, 76.8 euro cents, 95.57 Japanese yen, 65.75 UK pence and 124.2 New Zealand cents.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, markets, currency, stockmarket, futures, united-states, australia, european-union, united-kingdom

Australian shares ease on Fed worries

By finance reporter Alicia BarryUpdated January 04, 2013 13:27:39

The Australian share market has reversed two days of strong gains, after the US Federal Reserve raised concerns about continuing its stimulus measures this year.

Midway through the session, the All Ordinaries index was down 22 points to 4,739 just before 1:00pm (AEDT).

The ASX 200 index had shed 21 points to 4,719.

The major mining stocks are lower despite the spot price of iron ore hitting a 15-month high of $US150 a tonne in China overnight.

Rio Tinto had slipped 1.3 per cent and Fortescue Metals had lost 2.8 per cent.

Media stocks are doing well – Fairfax had lifted another 2.3 per cent, building on recent strong gains, and the Ten Network was 1.8 per cent higher.

Market heavy weight Telstra was worth $4.48, flat on the day after recent solid gains.

The Australian dollar was buying 104.5 US cents.

Topics: business-economics-and-finance, markets, currency, stockmarket, australia

First posted January 04, 2013 13:25:33

Worries over debt pursuit by RBS

 Loan file Courts can give lenders the power to take money from the sale of a property A watchdog has accused RBS of being too hasty in linking customers’ unpaid debts to their homes.


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said RBS and NatWest sought charging orders to enforce debts, which were sometimes of less than £5,000.


A charging order means the debt can be retrieved if the customer sells their home.


But the banking group said that the cases were from 2007 and 2008 and its policies had since changed.

‘Last resort’

The OFT said that it found evidence that the banks were not always taking account of customers’ efforts to repay debts, such as by using a debt repayment plan.


Many charging orders were used to secure relatively small amounts of debt, it found.


A charging order, obtained from a court, means that the debt must be paid from the proceeds of the sale of a home.


However, a separate order is needed for a debtor to be told that they must sell their property to pay the debt. This only happens in a minority of cases.


“Lenders are entitled to use charging orders, but they must do so proportionately and not to secure relatively small amounts of debt,” said David Fisher, of the OFT.


“Where we consider the use of charging orders to be unfair or oppressive, we will take action to protect consumers.”


In a statement, RBS said: “We are committed to helping customers who find themselves in financial difficulty.


“We changed the thresholds for using charging orders ourselves in 2008. The cases reviewed by the OFT preceded these changes. We use charging orders only as a last resort.”


View the original article here

Worries over debt pursuit by RBS

11 January 2013 Last updated at 12:55 GMT Loan file Courts can give lenders the power to take money from the sale of a property A watchdog has accused RBS of being too hasty in linking customers’ unpaid debts to their homes.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said RBS and NatWest sought charging orders to enforce debts, which were sometimes of less than £5,000.

A charging order means the debt can be retrieved if the customer sells their home.

But the banking group said that the cases were from 2007 and 2008 and its policies had since changed.

‘Last resort’

The OFT said that it found evidence that the banks were not always taking account of customers’ efforts to repay debts, such as by using a debt repayment plan.

Many charging orders were used to secure relatively small amounts of debt, it found.

A charging order, obtained from a court, means that the debt must be paid from the proceeds of the sale of a home.

However, a separate order is needed for a debtor to be told that they must sell their property to pay the debt. This only happens in a minority of cases.

“Lenders are entitled to use charging orders, but they must do so proportionately and not to secure relatively small amounts of debt,” said David Fisher, of the OFT.

“Where we consider the use of charging orders to be unfair or oppressive, we will take action to protect consumers.”

In a statement, RBS said: “We are committed to helping customers who find themselves in financial difficulty.

“We changed the thresholds for using charging orders ourselves in 2008. The cases reviewed by the OFT preceded these changes. We use charging orders only as a last resort.”

Worries over debt pursuit by RBS

Loan file Courts can give lenders the power to take money from the sale of a property A watchdog has accused RBS of being too hasty in linking customers’ unpaid debts to their homes.


The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said RBS and NatWest sought charging orders to enforce debts, which were sometimes of less than £5,000.


A charging order means the debt can be retrieved if the customer sells their home.


But the banking group said that the cases were from 2007 and 2008 and its policies had since changed.

‘Last resort’

The OFT said that it found evidence that the banks were not always taking account of customers’ efforts to repay debts, such as by using a debt repayment plan.


Many charging orders were used to secure relatively small amounts of debt, it found.


A charging order, obtained from a court, means that the debt must be paid from the proceeds of the sale of a home.


However, a separate order is needed for a debtor to be told that they must sell their property to pay the debt. This only happens in a minority of cases.


“Lenders are entitled to use charging orders, but they must do so proportionately and not to secure relatively small amounts of debt,” said David Fisher, of the OFT.


“Where we consider the use of charging orders to be unfair or oppressive, we will take action to protect consumers.”


In a statement, RBS said: “We are committed to helping customers who find themselves in financial difficulty.


“We changed the thresholds for using charging orders ourselves in 2008. The cases reviewed by the OFT preceded these changes. We use charging orders only as a last resort.”

Worries over debt pursuit by RBS

11 January 2013 Last updated at 12:55 GMT Loan file Courts can give lenders the power to take money from the sale of a property A watchdog has accused RBS of being too hasty in linking customers’ unpaid debts to their homes.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) said RBS and NatWest sought charging orders to enforce debts, which were sometimes of less than £5,000.

A charging order means the debt can be retrieved if the customer sells their home.

But the banking group said that the cases were from 2007 and 2008 and its policies had since changed.

‘Last resort’

The OFT said that it found evidence that the banks were not always taking account of customers’ efforts to repay debts, such as by using a debt repayment plan.

Many charging orders were used to secure relatively small amounts of debt, it found.

A charging order, obtained from a court, means that the debt must be paid from the proceeds of the sale of a home.

However, a separate order is needed for a debtor to be told that they must sell their property to pay the debt. This only happens in a minority of cases.

“Lenders are entitled to use charging orders, but they must do so proportionately and not to secure relatively small amounts of debt,” said David Fisher, of the OFT.

“Where we consider the use of charging orders to be unfair or oppressive, we will take action to protect consumers.”

In a statement, RBS said: “We are committed to helping customers who find themselves in financial difficulty.

“We changed the thresholds for using charging orders ourselves in 2008. The cases reviewed by the OFT preceded these changes. We use charging orders only as a last resort.”

JGBs futures hit 9-1/2-year high on US fiscal woes, China worries

Wednesday, 28 November 2012 09:49 Posted by Imaduddin

jgbTOKYO: Japanese government bond prices ticked higher on Wednesday, with benchmark futures prices hitting a 9-1/2-year high, helped by lack of progress in negotiations to resolve the US “fiscal cliff” budget crisis and fall in Chinese shares.

The benchmark 10-year JGB futures price rose 0.16 point to 144.78, briefly rising to 144.79, their highest level since June 2003, when they had gone to as high as 145.09.

The current 10-year cash JGB yield fell 1.0 basis point to 0.720 percent, matching its nine-year low hit in July. That level has been a strong support for the yield in the past half year.

JGBs benefited from worries over the US “fiscal cliff” as US lawmakers remained deadlocked over how to ease the likely shock from $600 billion of fiscal tightening due to kick in early next year.

The fall in Shanghai shares to a near four-year low was also a talking point among some market players, who are still not convinced of a strong recovery in the Chinese economy.

“Although recent Chinese economic data is showing signs of improvement, Shanghai share prices seem to suggest that it is still far from a full-fledged recovery,” said Takeo Okuhara, fund manager at Daiwa SB Investments.

“Given dimming hopes of a strong recovery in the US, China and Japan, bonds are likely to gain further. I expect the 10-year yield to dip below 0.7 percent by December,” Okuhara added.

The 20-year bond yield fell 0.5 basis point to 1.660 percent. The spread over the 10-year yield stood at 94 basis points, near a 13-year high of 95 basis points hit last week on speculation of more aggressive easing by the Bank of Japan.

Such speculation was sparked after Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda earlier this month called an election on Dec 16. as main opposition party leader Shinzo Abe, seen as a front-runner to become prime minister after the poll, is calling for radical easing and setting a higher inflation target.

Copyright Reuters, 2012

Brent hovers over $110, US fiscal worries weigh

Singapore: Brent crude steadied at over $110 per barrel on Wednesday, not far from a one-week low hit in the previous session, as investors nervously eyed talks to head off a looming fiscal disaster in the United States, the world’s top oil consumer.

Supply worries due to tension in Egypt, however, cushioned prices that were locked in a tight range — swinging from a drop of 10 cents to a rise of 9 cents so far in the session.

Brent crude was up 23 cents at $110.10 per barrel by 0452 GMT, after dropping to $109.31 on Tuesday — its lowest since November 20. US crude was up 4 cents at $87.22 per barrel.

Concern over whether US lawmakers were putting the world’s largest economy at risk of a recession by failing to make headway in their budget talks are weighing on financial markets, analysts said.

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“The global economy, China, Europe, needs the US economy to grow, and that is why the pressure to get this deal done is greater than before,” said Carl Larry, a derivatives broker at the Houston-based Atlas Commodities. “The global economy can’t afford for America to slip back into a recession.”

The US Congress pushed toward a compromise on Tuesday on a deal to avert the “fiscal cliff” of tax increases and spending cuts due to take effect next year, but an agreement still appeared elusive.

“The rhetoric emanating from Washington in recent days has not exactly filled traders with an abundance of confidence that a deal will get done comfortably before the deadline,” said Tim Waterer, sales trader with CMC Markets.

“Investors had feared that the discussions between Republicans and Democrats would be a long drawn out process and this is exactly what appears to be playing out on Capitol Hill.”

Further depressing the outlook for oil demand, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development cut its global growth forecasts, warning that the debt crisis in the recession-riddled euro zone was the greatest threat to the world economy.

“Another reason why we are seeing some swing in prices is because trading volumes are looking light, we aren’t quite back to levels prior to the holidays,” Larry said.?

The escalating political crisis in Egypt that has triggered worries about potential disruption to supplies in the Middle East, however, continued to prop up oil prices.

Tens of thousands of Egyptians rallied on Tuesday against President Mohammad Mursi in one of the biggest outpourings of protest since Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow, accusing the Islamist leader of seeking to impose a new era of autocracy.

“When you see the protests on the streets in Greece the markets drop, but when you see the thousands of people gather in the streets of Egypt, the markets get nervous and jump,” Larry said. “Protests in Egypt and tensions in the Middle East send prices upwards and make it even more difficult for the global economy to sustain a recovery.”

Investors are now eyeing data on US crude stockpiles from the US Energy Information Administration later in the day for hints on demand from the key consumer.

Data released by the American Petroleum Institute late Tuesday showed crude stocks rose by 2 million barrels for the week ended November 23. Gasoline stocks rose 2.3 million barrels and distillate stocks rose 268,000 barrels, the API said.

Crude stocks were expected to be up only 300,000 barrels and gasoline up 900,000 barrels, a Reuters survey showed.

Growth, US fiscal worries hit shares

London: European shares fell for a third day on Friday as the weak economic outlook, uncertainty over US budget talks and an upsurge of violence in the Middle East weighed on investors.

Stock index futures also pointed to a lower open on Wall Street when it resumes trading as investors worry about the outcome of negotiations between US President Barack Obama and Congressional leaders due to begin later in the day.

The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down 0.2 per cent at 1,076.50 points in morning trade, on course for its worst week since late September with a loss of over two per cent in the last five days.

The euro was down 0.4 per cent against the dollar on Friday to $1.2730 though still above Tuesday’s two-month low of $1.2661.

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“I think things are deteriorating steadily in Europe,” said Neil Mellor, currency strategist at BNY Mellon, who expects ongoing weak economic data to keep pressure on the euro.

Adding to pressure on the single currency are concerns about a row between euro zone governments and the International Monetary Fund over how to cut Greece’s giant debt pile.

The head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, has cut short a tour of Asia to attend a Eurogroup meeting in Brussels on November 20, which will try to resolve the dispute in order to release a 31 billion euro ($39.66 billion) aid payment needed to keep the country afloat.

Anxiety over the outcome of those talks saw German government bond futures edge up to near two-month highs, with the December contract rising 11 ticks to 143.24.

Elsewhere in the currency markets, the Japanese yen steadied at around 81 to the dollar having fallen sharply this week as investors adjusted to the likelihood of a change in government and the possibility of an easing in monetary policy.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda paved the way for a snap election on December 16 by dissolving the lower house of parliament on Friday. Shinzo Abe, leader of the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party, is widely expected to win the vote and has already called for the Bank of Japan to adopt interest rates of zero or below to spur lending.

“Only if the BOJ were to ease more aggressively will we see some weakness in the yen but it is not yet clear when this will happen,” said Marcus Hettinger, global FX strategist at Credit Suisse in Zurich.

Earlier Japan’s Nikkei stock index bucked the global trend and rallied 2.2 per cent to a two-week high. The index has risen 3 per cent this week, helped by a 4.2 per cent jump in the past two days.

However, most of the markets attention is on Washington and the progress in efforts to resolve the so called ‘fiscal cliff’ facing the government at the end of the year.

Since last week’s US election, investors have become worried the giant economy could be tipped back into recession if no deal is reached to avoid the $600 billion in spending cuts and tax hikes due to take effect early next year.

Some in the markets are worried that efforts to reach a deal could result in tax hikes on wealthy investors, and have looked to lock in profits made from strong gains in US share prices made this year.

“It’s going to be a tough market in the next few weeks because we’re going to get a lot of rumours coming out about whether there is a deal or not,” Markus Huber, a senior trader at ETX Capital, said.

The broad S&P 500 index is still showing gains of around 7.5 per cent for this year, but has lost nearly five per cent this month with the falls all coming since election day.

Uncertainty about the fiscal cliff prompted analysts polled by Reuters to cut early 2013 US growth expectations and has boosted demand for the perceived safety of US Treasuries.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries fell to 1.58 per cent on Friday, not far from a two-month low near 1.57 per cent set earlier in the week.

Worries about the growth and the fiscal cliff also dominated commodity markets though oil traders were becoming concerned that a flare up fighting between Israel and the Palestinians may draw in Arab producers and impact supply lines.

Bonds rise on US budget talks, Israel worries

New York: US government debt prices rose on Friday with yields touching their lowest levels in over two months on scepticism over whether Washington will produce a deal to avoid a budget crisis and worries about fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.

The bond market’s gains were capped by stabilization in Wall Street stocks which have been pummeled by fears that US President Barack Obama and Congress will fail to reach a timely compromise to avoid the ‘fiscal cliff’, a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts which would phase in in early 2013.

Such a severe move could stun the US economy back into recession, according to many economists.

“There’s a lot of fears with the fiscal cliff and the Middle East,” said Charles Comiskey, head of Treasury trading at the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York. “Treasuries continue to be a safe-haven security. A lot of money is pouring in here.”

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The bullish tone in Treasuries was also supported by data showing US industrial output unexpectedly fell 0.4 per cent in October due to Sandy, a deadly storm that disrupted businesses along the East Coast, although the trend was consistent with slowing manufacturing activity.

Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price at 100-15/32, yielding 1.574 per cent, down 2 basis points on late Thursday.

The 10-year yield was on track to fall for a fourth straight week, touching 1.556 per cent earlier, which was only 17 basis points above its record low set in late July.

Major US stock indexes rebounded from their initial losses, although the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has fallen more than 4 per cent lower over the past two weeks.

On Friday, top lawmakers from both major US political parties spoke after a meeting at the White House, hinting at the possibility of a budget compromise that involves spending cuts and additional revenue, although they were short on details.

Some analysts saw encouraging signs a deal will emerge within six weeks before the “fiscal cliff” starts to kick in, while others were doubtful that the Democrats and Republicans were close to a compromise about raising taxes and reducing social programs including Medicare.

Some analysts believe Washington will likely come up with an agreement that provides short-term fixes to the most contentious issues on taxes and spending so they could buy time to negotiate longer-term deficit reduction goals.

“A grand bargain is just as hard to attain as it was eighteen months ago. A lesser bargain is more likely, which will appease both sides,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.

While US lawmakers sought to comfort financial markets, the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians kept investors on edge with signs of growing mobilization on both sides.

Investors also watched developments in Greece whose international lenders have been squabbling over how to keep the heavily indebted nation solvent.

While anxious investors have flocked into Treasuries to shield their cash from the uncertainties in Washington, Europe and the Middle East, some strategists cautioned against holding an excessive amount of US government debt whose longer-dated yields are barely keeping up with inflation.

“There’s a real yield deficit,” said Dan Heckman, senior fixed income strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. He recommended investors hold high-quality corporate and municipal bonds for their higher yields.

Yen hits seven-month low on BOJ easing worries

London: The yen fell to a seven-month low versus the dollar on Monday on concerns about more monetary easing in Japan while raised chances of a resolution to the US ‘fiscal cliff’ helped the euro and riskier currencies.

The euro was also lifted by the prospects of euro zone finance ministers agreeing with the International Monetary Fund on a two-year funding deal for Greece.

The dollar was steady at 81.28 yen, having risen as high as 81.59 yen on trading platform EBS, its highest level since April 25.

Investors have dumped the yen after elections were called for December 16 and the leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which is expected to win, called on the BOJ to print “unlimited yen” and set rates at zero or below.

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But investors were wary of pushing it much lower before a Bank of Japan policy announcement on Tuesday, where most analysts expect it will refrain from announcing additional monetary easing.

“Continued talk and questions over potential changes for the BOJ has weighed on the yen. It’s most unlikely the BOJ will make major changes this meeting, but the trend (for the yen) seems to be changing,” said Audrey Childe-Freeman, head of foreign exchange strategy at BMO Capital Markets.

Traders cited stop loss buy orders at 81.75 and 82.00 yen, with option barriers reported at those levels too. However, an options expiry at 81.25 yen due later in the day may keep the dollar hovering close to that level.

The euro rose 0.2 per cent to $1.2771, recovering from a two-and-a-half month low of $1.2661 reached last week, although it remained stuck below chart resistance at its 200-day moving average of $1.2807.

European Central Bank policymaker Joerg Asmussen said on Sunday the euro zone should agree next week on two years of funding for Greece, while German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was banking on a deal.

However, euro zone officials, who meet on Tuesday, may encounter opposition from the International Monetary Fund, which wants a permanent solution to Greece’s debt problems.

“This week, the euro is likely to be well bid, provided we get a positive outcome from the meeting of euro zone finance ministers,” said BMO’s Childe-Freeman.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley recommended buying the euro at $1.2730, with a target of $1.33 and a stop at $1.2650.

They said they expected progress towards a compromise on the next payment of funds for Greece, which should support the euro, as well as anticipation that Spain would apply for a bailout, paving the way for the European Central Bank to buy its bonds.

Signs negotiations to overcome major fiscal policy disagreement in the United States had started well lifted equities and also supported demand for riskier currencies, including the euro.

On Friday, leaders of the US Senate and House said they would be flexible in efforts to settle fiscal policy differences to avert a $600 billion ‘fiscal cliff’ of tax hikes and spending cuts.

The euro rose 0.2 per cent against the yen to 103.78 yen , having earlier hit a three-week high of 104.15 yen.

Some market participants said the yen may find support after last week’s 2.4 per cent drop against the dollar, the Japanese currency’s biggest weekly percentage drop in nine months.

But given the potential for more monetary easing later, they said the yen could fall further over a longer-term horizon.

“We’ve travelled too far, too fast over the last week or so,” said Gareth Berry, a strategist for UBS in Singapore.

But he added: “On a six-month view, dollar/yen higher is a great trade”.

Wine region protection worries other farmers

Updated November 05, 2012 12:01:32

Landmark laws to protect two premium wine regions from urban sprawl have pleased many, but not all farmers in such things as dairy production.

The character preservation legislation passed by the South Australian Parliament covers 40,000 hectares of farm land in the McLaren Vale region, south of Adelaide, and almost 150,000 hectares in the Barossa Valley, to the north-east of the city.

It prohibits land in the zones from being subdivided for housing and removes the planning minister’s power to approve major developments without parliamentary scrutiny.

Rosemount Estate chief winemaker Matt Koch is pleased there will be laws to protect his region from being overrun by suburbia.

“It gives us the opportunity to not stop progression but at least have our say in progression and give a voice for the future of McLaren Vale and wine regions in general,” he said.

Dudley Brown has been one of those fighting for better protection.

“If you’re an agriculture producer anywhere within two or three hours of a city, if you’re not looking at legislation like this to protect your agricultural areas, you won’t be in business in 25 years,” he said.

Mr Brown is a grape grower and winemaker who moved to Australia almost a decade ago from Orange in California after his region disappeared under cement.

“A city of almost 100,000 got built and it was all orange groves when I got there and I was like “What a beautiful place” and literally seven years later it was sort of gone,” he said.

When Mr Brown saw housing start to crawl towards his vineyard in the McLaren Vale region, he was determined to nip it in the bud.

He suggested McLaren Vale follow the lead of another wine region, the Napa Valley in the US, which is protected from development under the Williamson Act.

“Basic land – agriculture and land prices in Napa Valley 40 years ago, McLaren Vale were probably fairly similar, maybe around $1,000 an acre. Today an acre of vineyard in Napa Valley is $300,000 an acre, where in McLaren Vale it’s $35,000 or $40,000. $35,000 or $40,000 sounds pretty good until you hear $300,000,” he said.

Efforts to stop encroachment of housing into wine areas of South Australia gained momentum when producers in the Barossa Valley joined the fight.

“We think for the two most-valuable wine regions in Australia to join together to do this is going to make quite a splash nationally and internationally,” Mr Brown said.

In the Barossa Valley, even though vineyards have expanded rapidly over the past decade they take up less than 10 per cent of the preserved area and more than three quarters is used for cropping and grazing.

Not everyone who works in these industries is as pleased with the character preservation legislation.

Peter Grocke is a mixed farmer at Gomersal in the Barossa Valley and a vocal opponent of the laws.

“The laws in the bill are for landscape aesthetic beauty preservation, nothing to do with the reality of broadacre staple food production and they are designed to key-up tourism in the wine industry,” he said.

The third-generation sheep and crop farmer says prominent figures in the premium food and wine industry have helped shape the laws, but the more grassroots agricultural sector has been shut out of high-level talks.

“The broadacre farming group has on multiple occasions sought meetings with the Minister for Planning. We’ve got so much money invested within this industry, we’ve got an equal right to sit around the table with any minister,” he said.

Planning Minister John Rau conceded most of the feedback and lobbying had been from the food and wine interests.

“I’m not aware of being approached by people individually or collectively to speak particularly about broadacre farm issues,” he said.

“They (food and wine interests) have been the most visible people, but I’ve never had the impression that they were speaking in a voice that everyone else found unacceptable.

“How do they feel that they’ve been badly done by in this process? I mean, we haven’t affected them at all except said that, “You will not be converting your broadacre farm into a housing estate.”

There has been much debate about what the character part of the preservation laws actually covers.

Jan Angas’ home Hutton Vale at Angaston certainly is not short of character. She shares the historic property with husband John.

They produce premium lamb, wool, wine and a bit of grain. The passionate foodie is also an outspoken advocate for the protection laws.

“The preserved bill is not trying to set the rules. It’s trying to set the position. We’re trying to say we want to keep the character, so then we have to work out exactly what it is in that character that we see as valuable and then put planning rules to it so we don’t destroy it,” she said.

Under the rules, councils most often will ultimately decide which developments fit in and which do not.

Ms Angas says aesthetics must play an important part in those decisions.

“If we allow three-storey mass Colorbond sheds alongside someone that’s doing a very low-key tourism operation that you can hardly see and is very smart and stylish, if you hit both of those at the same time you’re sending a mixed message,” she said.

Jeff Kernich is a fifth-generation dairy farmer in the Barossa Valley and says tourism is getting the key say.

“Unfortunately, I think a lot of the thought that’s behind this protection act is more about the tourists that are coming to the area who come for the wine tours, etcetera. And I don’t have a problem with tourists. I invite tourists to come and see my operation. I love tourists coming to see my operation, but I can’t hide what I’m doing,” he said.

While other milk producers have exited the industry, Mr Kernich has hung on by value-adding. Next to his dairy in a converted shipping container is a tiny processing plant where jersey cream and milk are bottled.

After eight years in these cosy quarters, he is keen to expand but worried that the people interpreting the character preservation rules will not take into account the realities of farming and will put visibility ahead of viability.

“To remain viable, for the whole family to continue we need to increase our cow numbers quite considerably, but of course with that sort of thing comes building sheds, building dairies, building factories and they are all things that we’re concerned that maybe down the track people will look at and say “Well that sticks out like a sore thumb on top of a hill” and we may have difficulties getting that sort of expansion through,” he said.

Mr Rau doubts such farming will run into problems.

“If a farmer wished to diversify and in order to do that they had to put some plant, for example, on their property, provided that plant complied with the council rules about setbacks and all the usual things one would expect that’s entirely in character with the region, because the plant would be an adjunct to or a part of the normal activity, the historically-established activity of the region,” the Minister said.

As a milk producer who has watched his industry all but disappear, Mr Kernich questions whether any farming activity can be considered normal.

“The character has already changed vastly to what the character was 10 to 15 years ago, so are we trying to protect what’s here now or are we trying to protect the character that was there in my forefathers’ days?” he asked.

Another fifth-generation farmer who can probably see things from more sides than most is Michael Heinrich. He grows hay, grain and grapes at Tanunda in the Barossa. While he supports a freeze on housing developments, he is not convinced protection laws are going to increase the value or profitability of his patch.

“Laws like this, it’s their job to then sort of … provide a means for an economic sustainability for farmers because, if that doesn’t happen, ultimately I suggest that the character of the area will change regardless of any sort of state legislation,” he said.

“Can’t see why the land values will increase. Certainly vineyard values have decreased lately. Cropping land, we’re not sure but time will tell. But I can’t see the connection at this point.”

In a region with small blocks and diverse industries, farm sustainability is a big issue and despite being part of the viticulture and broadacre industries, Mr Heinrich says sometimes the two do not exactly see eye to eye.

“Had a bit of an issue with it where the vines have expanded into … [the] cropping area and change of land use has been granted for vineyards, say, and then there’s an automatic expectation that the pre-existing farmers will change their management practices at their cost to comply with their new neighbour,” he said.

“And [I am] not sure if that’s necessarily fair.”

It is an issue that has been raised in a parliamentary inquiry into sustainable farming, an inquiry Mr Heinrich and Mr Grocke say should have been finished before anyone started looking at protection laws.

“If you’ve got a damaged farming system, let’s fix it. Let’s make it useable, farmer friendly, then we can go about protecting the systems which we know are fixed and reasonable to work within,” Mr Grocke said.

But the man who drove the momentum for the laws, Dudley Brown, says they not only protect agricultural land, they encourage farmers to be more sustainable.

“If your vineyard’s right next to where the suburbs are, you’re half thinking, “Hey, I’ll be the next one subdivided and get the big pay cheque” and so maybe you don’t invest in your property, or if they know there’s no alternative they go “Right, I have got to make my living here, I have got to do the best I can.”

Mr Brown says there is also the bigger picture to consider.

“We set aside areas of the country, you know, 20, 50, 150 years ago that were so special we called them national parks because they should never be developed on. And when you think about food security for the country I think we really do need to think very similarly and start saying “Look, there’s land that’s too valuable to be used for anything but food production,” Mr Brown said.

Mr Grocke is not so sure.

“The thought process is ideal but in reality it’s a farce. Some of the soils in this western Barossa zone aren’t all class one and two soils of prime agricultural soils and some of them are absolutely poor,” he said.

“Some of the best soils … exactly straight outside this zone [at] Roseworthy and Freeling are designated for huge housing/industrial expansion.”

Mr Rau stresses the need for a balance between urban growth and agricultural needs.

“It is true that there are some areas in the north of Adelaide which are closer to the city than the Barossa Valley which are presently being used for farming that are marked for housing development over the next 30 years. That was a decision taken a while ago because if the city is to grow, it needs to have somewhere to grow,” he said.

Back in the Barossa, Jan Angas says the legislation will help preserve one of the most significant food cultures in the country, but she stops short of calling her beloved Valley a major food bowl.

“We use food security very loosely and I think we have got to be careful about that because I do think the Barossa is positioning themselves in a premium level of food, so it’s not about just having 25 million tonnes of any one item,” she said.

Each week, high-end producers including Jan Angas sell their wares at the popular Barossa Farmers Market. She suggests that with relatively-high land prices in the protected zone and limited space available, the more commodity-driven sector may do better if it switches focus too.

“Would you be better off looking at a niche market crop, like caperberries or horseradish or saffron or growing herbs or whatever,” she asked.

“I’m not suggesting anything in particular, but it’s time to have the discussion.”

Farmer Jeff Kernich is considering buying extra land outside the protected zone where it is cheaper and there are fewer restrictions, but the veteran dairy producer believes traditional agricultural pursuits can still prosper within the preserved area.

“I think that there’s still a good future for those of us with the right attitude to still keep farming in this area. It is generally, until years like this one, a very reliable area for growing hay and grain,” he said.

So while the character preservation laws are cause for celebration for some in the wine regions, it remains clear there are disputes to resolve before all land users consider them a victory for agriculture.

Topics: urban-development-and-planning, viticulture, agricultural-crops, rural, states-and-territories, government-and-politics, regional-development, regional, tanunda-5352, mclaren-vale-5171, adelaide-5000, sa, port-pirie-5540, renmark-5341, australia

First posted November 05, 2012 09:47:43

Bonds rise on US budget talks, Israel worries

NEW YORK: US government debt prices rose on Friday with yields touching their lowest levels in over two months on skepticism over whether Washington will produce a deal to avoid a budget crisis and worries about fighting between Israel and the Palestinians.


The bond market’s gains were capped by stabilization in Wall Street stocks which have been pummeled by fears that US President Barack Obama and Congress will fail to reach a timely compromise to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts which would phase in in early 2013.


Such a severe move could stun the US economy back into recession, according to many economists.


“There’s a lot of fears with the fiscal cliff and the Middle East,” said Charles Comiskey, head of Treasury trading at the Bank of Nova Scotia in New York. “Treasuries continue to be a safe-haven security. A lot of money is pouring in here.”


The bullish tone in Treasuries was also supported by data showing US industrial output unexpectedly fell 0.4 percent in October due to Sandy, a deadly storm that disrupted businesses along the East Coast, although the trend was consistent with slowing manufacturing activity.


Benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 6/32 in price at 100-15/32, yielding 1.574 percent, down 2 basis points on late Thursday.


The 10-year yield was on track to fall for a fourth straight week, touching 1.556 percent earlier, which was only 17 basis points above its record low set in late July.


Major US stock indexes rebounded from their initial losses, although the Standard & Poor’s 500 index has fallen more than 4 percent lower over the past two weeks.


On Friday, top lawmakers from both major US political parties spoke after a meeting at the White House, hinting at the possibility of a budget compromise that involves spending cuts and additional revenue, although they were short on details.


Some analysts saw encouraging signs a deal will emerge within six weeks before the “fiscal cliff” starts to kick in, while others were doubtful that the Democrats and Republicans were close to a compromise about raising taxes and reducing social programs including Medicare.


Some analysts believe Washington will likely come up with an agreement that provides short-term fixes to the most contentious issues on taxes and spending so they could buy time to negotiate longer-term deficit reduction goals.


“A grand bargain is just as hard to attain as it was eighteen months ago. A lesser bargain is more likely, which will appease both sides,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia.


While US lawmakers sought to comfort financial markets, the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians kept investors on edge with signs of growing mobilization on both sides.


Investors also watched developments in Greece whose international lenders have been squabbling over how to keep the heavily indebted nation solvent.


While anxious investors have flocked into Treasuries to shield their cash from the uncertainties in Washington, Europe and the Middle East, some strategists cautioned against holding an excessive amount of US government debt whose longer-dated yields are barely keeping up with inflation.


“There’s a real yield deficit,” said Dan Heckman, senior fixed income strategist at US Bank Wealth Management in Minneapolis. He recommended investors hold high-quality corporate and municipal bonds for their higher yields.

Copyright Reuters, 2012

Shares struggle on Europe, fiscal cliff worries

 Image Credit: REUTERSA trader is pictured at his desk under the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange November 14, 2012.

London: World share markets struggled to make gains on Wednesday as investors fretted about rising tensions in Europe over its debt crisis and the fast-approaching fiscal cliff in the United States.


A wave of strikes across southern Europe to protest against spending cuts and tax hikes kept the focus firmly on the region’s debt crisis as policymakers wrangle over a deal to release desperately needed funds for Greece.


“The uncertainty surrounding Greece and the opposition against further austerity measures is going to undermine the market,” said Ioan Smith, strategist at Knight Capital.


The MSCI world equity index was little changed around 321.90 points as losses across European markets were offset by a 0.4 percent rise in Asian markets outside Japan as they recovered from seven-week lows hit on Tuesday .

Article continues below


The FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European shares was down around 0.4 percent at 1,094.95 points by 1030 GMT, giving up Tuesday’s 0.4 percent rise, its first daily gain in four sessions.


“The failure to sustain any momentum to the upside suggests there is a buyers’ strike and they are staying on the sidelines, waiting for a resolution either in Greece or in the US,” Knight Capital’s Smith said.


London’s FTSE 100, Frankfurt’s DAX and Paris’s CAC-40 were between 0.2 and 0.5 percent lower.


Although Greece is now expected to secure short-term funding to meet its debt obligations, international lenders continue to clash over how Athens can cuts its borrowings to more sustainable levels, and a deal to release aid payments remains some way off.


The uncertainty over Europe failed to deter investors in the latest auction of debt by Italy, which sold 3.5 billion euros of new government bonds. At the sale the three-year debt yield fell to its lowest level since October 2010.


“Demand was solid, and the yield on the three-year note resumed its downward trend and is at pre-crisis levels,” Nicholas Spiro, managing director at Spiro Sovereign Strategy.


However, safe-haven demand also enabled Germany to auction 4.3 billion euros of new two-year bonds at a yield of minus 0.02 percent.


The euro meanwhile gained against both the dollar and the yen after a political crisis in Japan triggered a dissolution of Parliament that looks likely to end the term of the current Democratic Party of Japan-led government.


Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will hope to gain support from other parties for political reforms in fresh elections set for December 16, though the most likely victor would be the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).


That outcome is regarded as negative for the yen, as an LDP-led government could put pressure on the Bank of Japan to ease monetary policy.


The euro was 0.3 percent higher against the dollar at $12745 and climbed one percent against the Japanese unit to 101.87 yen .


The dollar rose 0.7 percent to 79.90 yen but eased against most other major currencies on growing signs that the Federal Reserve is likely to adopt an ultra-loose monetary stance in coming months.


The minutes from the latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting will be released later on Wednesday and are likely to confirm an easy policy bias for some time to come.


The greenback was still being supported by concerns that Washington will struggle to find compromises needed to avoid a series of mandated tax hikes and spending cuts due to take effect next year that could send the world’s largest economy back into recession.


US Treasury yields edged higher in Europe on Wednesday but were not expected to stray far from their lowest levels since September on concerns over the outcome of negotiations.


“The negotiations will be tough and could trigger a downgrade of the US credit rating,” said Efigest Asset Management portfolio manager Regis Yancovici.


Ten-year Treasury yields were 3.5 basis points higher at 1.63 percent, having fallen as low as 1.57 percent on Tuesday.


Commodity markets were subdued, with traders watching developments in Europe and the US but also wary about the ramifications of the political transition in China due to be announced on Thursday.


On Wednesday, the 2,270 carefully vetted party delegates cast their votes in Beijing’s cavernous Great Hall of the People for the new central committee, which in turn on Thursday will appoint the Politburo Standing Committee that will ultimately rule China.


The new government’s attitude to supporting growth, which has been slowing all year, will be closely watched as China is the world’s top consumer of many commodities.


Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange was steady at $7,671.25 a tonne, while gold rose $3.25 to $1,728.14 an ounce but was still below a 3-week peak of around $1,738 struck on Friday.


In oil markets Brent crude had slipped below $108 a barrel, declining for a third day, after the International Energy Agency (IEA) cut its demand outlook for the fourth quarter and 2013.


US oil gained 2 cents to $85.40, snapping two days of losses.

Bonds firm on fiscal cliff worries, Fed minutes

Thursday, 15 November 2012 09:33 Posted by Imaduddin

TOKYO: US Treasuries were supported in Asia on Thursday, bolstered by investor concerns that protracted gridlock in Washington could cause a budget crisis that would send the economy reeling.


The yield on 10-year notes stood at 1.593 percent , little changed from late US levels and just above its 10-week low of 1.572 percent hit on Tuesday.


If the White House and a divided Congress do not produce a deal on the federal budget before year-end, a series of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff will phase in early in 2013.


President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Republicans would have to agree to raise taxes on the wealthy as the first step in a budget deal. But top Republican lawmakers have been steadfast in pushing to hold down tax rates for top earners.


Few market players expect a compromise between the Democrats and the Republicans any time soon, and that is likely to suggest firm support for Treasuries in coming weeks.


“You can’t expect any progress before the Thanksgiving (on Nov. 22). If they are moving towards a compromise deal, then perhaps we may hear some news of progress in the first week of December,” said Tomoaki Shishido, fixed income analyst at Nomura Securities.


The market also drew support from minutes of the Federal Reserve policy meeting in October, in which a number of officials reckoned the central bank would need to ramp up its bond purchases to help the economy.


The minutes showed a number of Fed officials thought the central bank would need to buy more bonds when its “Operation Twist” expires at year-end.


That cemented market expectations that the Fed will keep buying the same amount of bonds, about $85 billion each month, next year.


San Francisco Fed President John Williams said late on Wednesday the Federal Reserve likely will keep buying both mortgage-backed securities and Treasuries until late 2013.

Copyright Reuters, 2010

Greens highlight reef coal project worries

Posted November 13, 2012 09:27:04

Greens Senator Larissa Waters says there is a high level of concern among the Capricorn Coast community in central Queensland about plans to “industrialise” the Great Barrier Reef.

Ms Waters held a public meeting last night in Yeppoon, north of Rockhampton, about the future of the reef and will meet fishermen and local businesses in Gladstone tonight.

She says several coal port projects are proposed in the Fitzroy and Keppel Bay area and the community is strongly opposed to the plans.

“They’re worried about all the dredging impact on the local environment,” she said.

“They’re worried about the turtle rookery and the snubfin dolphin and worried about their own health with these coal dust concerns.

“People are worried that the Government doesn’t seem to be listening to the people’s concerns about the future of the reef.”

Topics: activism-and-lobbying, federal—state-issues, greens, great-barrier-reef, coal, community-development, regional, regional-development, yeppoon-4703, rockhampton-4700

Omnicom chief worries about US ‘fiscal cliff’ and concerns over China

Omnicom Group Inc, the largest US advertising company, said the looming “fiscal cliff” in the US and the leadership transition in China are creating uncertainty among clients, making it difficult to forecast the next few quarters. However, the company said it was benefiting as customers spread their advertising budgets among fewer agencies.

“With China being off a little bit, Europe not solved yet and the uncertainty with the fiscal cliff as people await the election, there’s conservatism,” chief executive John Wren said on a conference call. “We’re not certain yet what the outcome is going to be in the fourth quarter or into the first quarter of next year.”

The “fiscal cliff” refers to the $500 billion (Dh1.8 trillion) or so of tax hikes and the more than $100 billion in government spending cuts that will automatically start on January 2 unless politicians agree on a budget deal.

Omnicom shares were down nearly 3 per cent at $50.95 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

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Analysts on average are expecting fourth-quarter revenue of $3.97 billion and annual revenue of $14.29 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Wren said the company’s teams in Europe have been facing the “most challenging conditions” in its global footprint.

Revenue from Eurozone fell 14.4 per cent during the third quarter. Third-quarter growth in Germany, France and the Netherlands was negative, the company said.

Wren said the modest reduction in revenue growth in China was temporary and growth will return after the leadership transition is completed.

Omnicom, home to advertising, media and public relations agencies such as BBDO Worldwide, DDB Worldwide, TBWA Worldwide and Fleishman-Hillard, said it was benefiting from the account consolidation in the advertising industry.

PepsiCo Inc, a longtime Omnicom client, said in February it reduced the number of advertising agencies in North America, while raising marketing spend between $500 million and $600 million this year.

“I think this (account consolidation) trend will only continue because most of the major companies around the world are under some degree of pressure to become more efficient. That’s where we are today, and I think, as we go into 2013,” Wren said.

Evercore Partners analyst Douglas Arthur said Wall Street’s growth expectations from Omnicom for 2013 are too high.

“Nothing in this quarter tells me that I am wrong on that,” he said.

Analysts’ estimates for annual revenue for 2013 are $14.93 billion, while Arthur expects revenue of $14.80 billion.

Euro firms in Asia on easing Greece worries

TOKYO: The euro strengthened in Asian trade on Tuesday as sentiment on debt-addled Greece improved, while the dollar got a boost on better-than-expected US retail sales data.

The common currency bought $1.2965 and 102.20 yen in Tokyo morning trade, from $1.2950 and 101.89 yen in New York Monday.

The dollar bought 78.81 yen, against 78.66 yen in New York Monday.

Concerns over Greece’s possible exit from the eurozone eased as regional leaders voiced support for giving the debt-hit country more time to implement austerity reforms.

“Various reports indicate that Greece’s euro exit risks may have receded somewhat,” Junichi Ishikawa, forex analyst at IG Market Securities in Tokyo, told Dow Jones Newswires.

Meanwhile the dollar gained on the yen after fresh data showed US retail sales rose sharply in September, pointing to improved consumer optimism heading into the year-end holiday shopping season.

Global worries hit local share market

Posted October 10, 2012 17:49:48

Worries about the global economy have again hit the Australian share market, as investors followed the lead set by losses on Wall Street overnight.

The All Ordinaries index closed down 15 points to 4,511, while the ASX 200 index also fell 15 points to 4,490.

It was a mixed day for mining stocks.

Iron ore player Fortescue Metals Group fell 2.8 per cent, while gold miner Newcrest was down 1.3 per cent as the value of the precious metal slipped.

The major miners fared better though; BHP Billiton finished the day just up while its rival Rio Tinto rose by nearly a quarter of a per cent.

But it was a forgettable day for the banks.

The Bank of Queensland lost nearly a per cent, Westpac finished down two-thirds of a per cent and NAB slid 0.4 per cent.

Media companies also fared poorly.

Seven West Media fell just under 3.5 per cent, the Ten Network was down 2.5 per cent and News Corp lost nearly 1.4 per cent.

Nine Entertainment’s Australian creditor Goldman Sachs has agreed to take a haircut on its investment in the media company.

Nine’s debt is now larger than the value of the company and the interest payments on the debt exceeds its earnings.

Qantas was one of the market’s good news stories for the day. It ended 3.5 per cent higher.

Beyond the share market, the latest Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment has added to momentum for further cuts to the official interest rate.

The index rose 1 per cent but still sits below the 100-point mark that signals consumer optimism.

The only exception is the housing market, with the index showing the number of people looking to buy a home is at its highest level since September 2009.

The Australian dollar followed the market down and was lower against the greenback than it was a day earlier.

About 5pm (AEDT) it was worth around 102.16 U-S cents, 79.91 Japanese yen, 79.46 euro cents, 63.89 British pence and 125.06 New Zealand cents.

West Texas crude oil was trading higher at $US92.39 a barrel, Tapis oil was fetching $US114.57 a barrel, while spot gold softened slightly to $US1,764 an ounce.

Topics: stockmarket, markets, economic-trends, company-news, currency, australia

Facebook hits billion users amid revenue worries

Posted October 05, 2012 07:12:12

Facebook says it now has more than one billion users, but worries remain about how the social networking site can make money from members.

Co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg made the announcement, saying the number is “humbling”.

“This morning, there are more than one billion people using Facebook actively each month,” he said in a statement.

“Helping a billion people connect is amazing, humbling and by far the thing I am most proud of in my life.”

The social network reached one billion monthly active users on September 14, according to Mr Zuckerberg. That includes 600 million mobile users.

Since Facebook’s launch, users have produced more than 1.13 trillion likes, 140 billion friend connections and have uploaded 219 billion photos.

The social network has also seen 17 billion location-tagged posts, including check-ins, and 62.6 million songs that have been played 22 billion times.

Mr Zuckerberg says the company was taking in stride the fact that its membership accounts for about one-seventh of the world’s population.

“We don’t want to overly celebrate any particular milestone, so what we do is we have hackathons,” he told Bloomberg Businessweek.

“So people will be thinking of ideas and working on prototypes and things that we’ll need to do to help connect the next billion people, which I think is pretty cool.”

The growth figures have been clouded by concerns about dubious accounts.

Facebook’s own figures show as many as 83 million may come from dubious sources – duplicate accounts, pages for pets and those designed to send spam.

Around 8.7 per cent of the accounts may be dodgy, the company said in its quarterly filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Analysts remain divided on whether Facebook can leverage its massive user base for advertising and other revenues and still remain loyal to Mr Zuckerberg’s goal of making it a service to connect the world.

Trip Chowdhry at Global Equities Research remains bearish on Facebook, saying the company has failed to come up with a credible expansion plan.

“OK, one billion users, now what? How do you monetise them?” he said.

“The problems with Facebook remain the same.”

Industry tracker eMarketer says Facebook revenue this year “will not fly as high” as earlier estimated.

It forecasts that Facebook should claim a 14.4 per cent share of the $US15 billion American online display ad market, while Google takes a 15.4 per cent share.

Only $US72.7 million of the social network’s revenue will come from ads served on mobile devices such as smartphones, while Google is expected to reap $US1.4 billion in that arena, according to eMarketer.

The tracker also predicts mobile advertising is a “long-term play” for Facebook with multiplying in the coming two years.

AFP

Topics: social-media, internet-culture, company-news, computers-and-technology, united-states

Commodities suffer choppy trade on stubborn demand worries

LONDON: Commodity markets traded mixed this week as investors balanced stubborn worries over the global demand outlook against easing Eurozone debt crisis concerns and the faltering dollar.

Investors shrugged off strong non-farm payrolls (NFP) data in the United States, which is a major consumer of raw materials.

“Growth concerns remain the major concern and one average US jobs report cannot change the fact that demand looks weak,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

The NFP report also dented expectations for fresh quantitative easing (QE) stimulus cash from the US Federal Reserve, dealers said.

Huge revisions to previous months’ data released Friday gave a sharply better picture of the US jobs situation, helping push the unemployment rate down to 7.8 percent from the previous 8.1 percent.

The Labor Department’s fresh numbers for September showed only 114,000 jobs were generated last month, but revisions to July and August data showing many more jobs were produced and fewer people dropped out of the workforce.

“The reason for the drop in commodities (on Friday) is what this means for further asset purchases by the Fed,” said Alpari analyst Craig Erlam.

“We’ve seen QE3 have a very positive reaction in commodity prices and if this is the beginning of better employment data in the US, it’s likely to prevent the Fed announcing further asset purchases.”

OIL: The market had spiked higher on Thursday, with WTI soaring more than $4 as traders also fretted over clashes on the Syria-Turkey border and a fire at a major US refinery, analysts said.

“Oil prices (in London) have been trading within a tight band over the past five days, bouncing between $108 and $113,” said analyst Gary Hornby at British-based consultancy Inenco.

“Ongoing Middle Eastern tensions and the bearish economic outlook have been the two main drivers, however prices jumped $4 higher (on Thursday) … as a fire at one of the largest oil refineries in the US saw US gasoline prices rise.”

He added: “Furthermore, oil supply remains tight with the continuing loss of oil from Iran, where the US sanctions have caused the Iranian currency to lose 17 percent of its value in one day, and could be the first sign that the financial sanctions against the country could be working.”

Concerns are also growing over the slowing Chinese economy, which is the biggest global consumer of energy. Data showed Thursday that activity in China’s non-manufacturing sectors hit a near two-year low last month.

Oil continued to slide on Friday, dogged by demand worries, but ended the week on a stable note.

By late Friday on London’s Intercontinental Exchange, Brent North Sea crude for delivery in November firmed to $111.80 a barrel from $111.77 a week earlier.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) or light sweet crude for November eased to $90.31 a barrel, from $91.78 a week earlier.

PRECIOUS METALS: Gold surged close to a one-year high this week, boosted by the weak dollar, but trimmed gains on Friday.

The euro rallied above $1.30 this week after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi reassured dealers over its bond-buying scheme, soothing concerns over the Eurozone debt crisis. The unit extended those gains after the NFP data.

The falling greenback makes dollar-denominated assets cheaper for buyers using stronger currencies. This tends to stimulate demand and support higher prices.

The glamorous metal spiked on Thursday to $1,796.10 — last witnessed on November 14, 2011. Silver meanwhile reached the highest level since early March, and platinum scored highs last seen in February.

By late Friday on the London Bullion Market, gold rose to $1,784 an ounce from $1,776 a week earlier.

Silver firmed to $34.85 an ounce from $34.65.

On the London Platinum and Palladium Market, platinum increased to $1,711 an ounce from $1,668.

Palladium climbed to $667 an ounce from $642.

BASE METALS: Base or industrial metals diverged as traders eyed worries over the economic slowdown in key consumer China.

China’s non-manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) Index released Wednesday fell from 56.3 in August to 53.7 in September — its lowest point since November 2010. A reading above 50 indicates expansion, while anything below points to contraction.

The figure comes after China said Monday that activity in the vital manufacturing sector came in at 49.8 in September, a slight increase from August but still showing shrinkage.

Chinese economic growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the three months through June from the same period the year before, the weakest in three years.

By late Friday on the London Metal Exchange, copper for delivery in three months increased to $8,321 a ton from $8,250 a week earlier.

Three-month aluminium fell to $2,114 a ton from $2,123.

Three-month lead dropped to $2,275 a ton from $2,300.

Three-month tin rose to $22,525 a ton from $21,700.

Three-month nickel grew to $18,654 a ton from $18,576.

Three-month zinc sank to $2,065 a ton from $2,120.

COCOA: Prices fell as dealers eyed the improving supply outlook in top global producer Ivory Coast.

“Cocoa remains under pressure,” said Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch

“The main reason for this pressure is the brighter crop outlook. The main harvest has just begun in the Ivory Coast.”

By Friday on LIFFE, London’s futures exchange, cocoa for delivery in December slid to 1,533 pounds a ton from 1,635 pounds a week earlier.

On New York’s NYBOT-ICE exchange, cocoa for December sank to $2,406 a ton from $2,543.

SUGAR: Sugar futures hit their highest levels since the start of August, as speculative buyers ploughed into the market.

By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, the price of unrefined sugar for March stood at 21.37 US cents a pound compared with 20.40 cents.

On LIFFE, the price of a ton of white sugar for delivery in December climbed to $595.70 from $574.90 a week earlier.

COFFEE: The coffee market drifted lower.

By Friday on NYBOT-ICE, Arabica for delivery in December decreased to 173.90 US cents a pound from 174.35 cents a week earlier.

On LIFFE, Robusta for November declined to $2,140 a ton from $2,175.

RUBBER: Prices rose on supply concerns as rubber stockpiles reportedly fell and major producing countries moved to limit their exports, dealers said.

The Malaysian Rubber Board’s benchmark SMR20 advanced to 307.35 US cents a kilo from 285.75 cents the previous week.

Asian markets down on China, Europe worries

HONG KONG: Asian shares were broadly lower Monday as Chinese manufacturing activity slipped, Japanese business confidence fell, and worries persisted over debt-ridden Spain.


In Tokyo the benchmark Nikkei 225 index was down 1.14 percent, Taiwan was off 0.68 percent and Singapore slipped 0.43 percent.


Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Sydney were all closed for public holidays.


The falls came after official data showed manufacturing activity in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, contracted for a second straight month in September.


The government’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 49.8, falling short of expectations. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below points to contraction.


It came after British bank HSBC at the weekend released its own PMI of 47.9, its 11th consecutive month of contraction.


China’s economic growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the three months to June, the poorest result since the height of the global financial crisis three years ago.


Beijing has expressed confidence it will achieve its 2012 economic growth target of 7.5 percent, though that would mark a sharp slowdown from 9.3 percent last year and 2010′s 10.4 percent.


Lee Kok Joo, head of research at Phillip Securities in Singapore, told Dow Jones Newswires: “The macro picture is still in contraction mode. Investors are still very cautious of going into the market.”


In Tokyo, the Bank of Japan said confidence among large manufacturers worsened in the quarter ended September, with businesses suffering from a territorial spat with China over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Euro falls in Asia on Spain worries

TOKYO: The euro fell against other currencies in Asia on Monday as investors shunned risk amid worries over Spain’s debt problems and a possible sovereign rating cut to junk.


The single currency was changing hands at $1.2812 and 99.83 yen in Tokyo morning trade, down from $1.2856 and 100.12 yen in New York late Friday.


The dollar was at 77.91 yen against 77.88 yen as investors shrugged off a Bank of Japan survey that showed confidence among large Japanese manufacturers worsened in the quarter ended September, in line with market expectations.


The euro is weaker “in a downbeat take as far as Spain goes,” ANZ senior dealer Alex Sinton told Dow Jones Newswires.


“The issues are not going away (in Europe),” he added.


A senior trader at a major Japanese trust bank said: “Risk-on sentiment is spurring US dollar-buying.” He said there was a fair chance the euro could breach $1.2800 and fall further.


After four years fighting the markets and a mushrooming economic crisis, Spain appears finally poised to cave in and apply for a sovereign bailout.


Major ratings agency Moody’s is expected to announce soon the result of its review of Spain’s credit rating for a possible downgrade.

Euro remains pressured by Spain, Greece worries

TOKYO: The euro was mixed in Asia on Thursday with investors seeking refuge in the safe-haven yen as anti-austerity protests in Spain and Greece raised fresh concerns over the eurozone debt crisis.


The euro bought $1.2876 and 100.00 in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with $1.2870 and 100.04 yen late Wednesday in New York where the common currency lost ground because of risk aversion.


The dollar changed hands at 77.62 yen against 77.70 yen.


However, traders were reluctant to sell the euro aggressively against the yen owing to expectations that Spain will formally request a bailout, said a senior dealer at a Japanese bank.


“While the topside remains limited, we need further euro-negative factors to push it down below $1.2830 around the 200-day moving averages,” the dealer told Dow Jones Newswires.


Citibank Japan chief strategist Osamu Takashima said traders remained risk-averse after European bond markets saw borrowing costs rise for weak nations Wednesday while global stock markets seemed to have hit their peaks.


Tensions over harsh austerity measures have also spilled on to the streets of Spain and Greece.


Thousands of protestors rallied near the Spanish parliament for a second straight night Wednesday after a rough day on the markets again raised the likelihood of a full bailout and deeper economic pain.

Asian markets down on China, Europe worries

HONG KONG: Asian shares were broadly lower Monday as Chinese manufacturing activity slipped, Japanese business confidence fell, and worries persisted over debt-ridden Spain.

In Tokyo the benchmark Nikkei 225 index closed down 0.83 percent, or 73.65 points, to 8,796.51, and Singapore slipped 0.33 percent in the afternoon, but Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.04 percent, or 1.6 points, higher at 4,388.6.

Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul were all closed for public holidays.The falls came after official data showed manufacturing activity in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, contracted for a second straight month in September.

The government’s purchasing managers’ index (PMI) stood at 49.8, falling short of expectations. A PMI reading above 50 indicates expansion, while one below points to contraction.

It came after British bank HSBC at the weekend released its own PMI of 47.9, its 11th consecutive month of contraction.

“The manufacturing side is still very weak,” said independent economist Andy Xie, citing sluggish exports and a property slump as factors. “You go around the country, you can see all the cranes standing there, not working.”

China’s economic growth slowed to 7.6 percent in the three months to June, its weakest since the height of the global financial crisis three years ago.

Beijing has expressed confidence it will achieve its 2012 economic growth target of 7.5 percent, though that would mark a sharp slowdown from 9.3 percent last year and 2010’s 10.4 percent.

Lee Kok Joo, head of research at Phillip Securities in Singapore, told Dow Jones Newswires: “The macro picture is still in contraction mode. Investors are still very cautious of going into the market.”

In Tokyo, the Bank of Japan said confidence among large manufacturers worsened in the quarter ended September, with businesses suffering from a territorial spat with Beijing over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Auto giants Toyota and Nissan said last week they would cut production in China, Japan’s largest trading partner, because demand for Japanese cars has dropped.

Europe’s debt crisis was also in investors’ minds, with Spain’s economic descent accelerating in recent days amid increasing anti-austerity protests, and Madrid now appearing increasingly likely to apply for a sovereign bailout.

Madrid has unveiled swingeing cuts of 39 billion euros ($50 billion) in government spending, including a third straight year of salary freezes for civil servants, reducing its deficit to 2.8 percent of GDP in 2014.

But it is projecting debt to reach 85.3 percent of GDP in 2012 and 90.5 percent in 2013.

The single currency was changing hands at $1.2843 and 99.93 yen, down from $1.2856 and 100.12 yen in New York late Friday, while the dollar was flat at 77.80 yen, from 77.88 yen.

On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, shed 67 cents to $91.52 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for November retreated 50 cents to $111.89.

Gold was at $1,765.80 at 0640 GMT compared with $1,778.10 on Friday.

In other markets: Taiwan’s weighted index fell 0.51 percent, or 39.44 points, to 7,675.72.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 1.0 percent to Tw$88.9 while leading smartphone maker HTC gained 2.29 percent at Tw$290.5. Wellington closed off 0.11 percent, or 4.12 points, to 3,830.03.Telecom Corp was 0.63 percent down at NZ$2.36.

Euro remains pressured by Spain, Greece worries

TOKYO: The euro was mixed in Asia on Thursday with investors seeking refuge in the safe-haven yen as anti-austerity protests in Spain and Greece raised fresh concerns over the eurozone debt crisis.


The euro bought $1.2876 and 100.00 in Tokyo afternoon trade, compared with $1.2870 and 100.04 yen late Wednesday in New York where the common currency lost ground because of risk aversion.


The dollar changed hands at 77.62 yen against 77.70 yen.


However, traders were reluctant to sell the euro aggressively against the yen owing to expectations that Spain will formally request a bailout, said a senior dealer at a Japanese bank.


“While the topside remains limited, we need further euro-negative factors to push it down below $1.2830 around the 200-day moving averages,” the dealer told Dow Jones Newswires.


Citibank Japan chief strategist Osamu Takashima said traders remained risk-averse after European bond markets saw borrowing costs rise for weak nations Wednesday while global stock markets seemed to have hit their peaks.


Tensions over harsh austerity measures have also spilled on to the streets of Spain and Greece.


Thousands of protestors rallied near the Spanish parliament for a second straight night Wednesday after a rough day on the markets again raised the likelihood of a full bailout and deeper economic pain.

Merkel warns against hasty action as euro worries return

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Tuesday the Eurozone should not rush headlong into a banking union, amid signs Germany is being sucked into the abyss and fresh worries over Greece and Spain.

Speaking at a conference in Berlin, Merkel rebuffed demands — notably from the European Commission and France — to create as soon as possible an EU bank supervisor which would eventually come to the aid of struggling banks.

“I support stronger bank supervision in the Eurozone,” she told the German Federation of Industry (BDI) in Berlin.

“But European surveillance must also be more binding — I can’t talk about the direct recapitalisation of banks in other countries if I have not yet created the right to intervene,” she said to applause.

“That means (the approach must be) step-by-step and in the correct order and not hasty and not just so we can say ‘we have something’,” added the chancellor. EU leaders agreed in June that the bloc’s rescue funds could directly recapitalise struggling banks but only when a broad Europe-wide supervisor under the leadership of the European Central Bank had been established.

Worries for India rise as rupee hits record low

India’s rupee hit a record low agains­t the dollar and stocks fell nearly two percen­t. India’s rupee hit a record low against the dollar and stocks fell nearly two percent. PHOTO: REUTERS

MUMBAI: India’s rupee hit a record low against the dollar on Wednesday and stocks fell nearly two percent, as uncertainty over the Eurozone debt crisis and weak domestic indicators hit Asia’s third-largest economy.

The Indian unit fell to 54.43 rupees to the dollar in early afternoon, breaching its previous intraday lifetime low of 54.30 struck on December 15.

Traders said they expected the rupee to fall further in coming days with risk aversion hitting global markets and sentiment souring about India because of its ballooning fiscal deficit, slowing economy and political logjam.

“Global uncertainty is in the driver’s seat,” said Priyanka Kishore, forex strategist at Standard Chartered Bank. “There is a tangible risk of the rupee moving towards 55 rupee to the dollar levels,” she told AFP.

The Indian currency has fallen more than 10 percent since March despite persistent interventions from the central bank, which has regularly bought dollars and only last week announced new measures to support the local unit.

Exporters and other foreign-exchange earners were ordered last Thursday to convert half of their total foreign-exchange earnings kept in banks into rupees, but the move failed to prevent the decline.

Amid the turmoil, the benchmark Bombay Stock Exchange’s Sensitive Index or Sensex was down 1.89 percent or 308.54 points at 16,019 in early afternoon trade.

Investors across Asia have been dumping risk-sensitive assets on worries about the worsening political upheaval in Greece and buying up dollar holdings, perceived as safe havens in times of financial stress.

But India’s domestic problems have added to the woes, analysts say, namely slowing growth, rising inflation, strained public finances and widening trade and current account deficits.

Foreign investors have also been turned off the country of 1.2 billion people due to recent regulatory moves by the government, which has also stalled on a pro-growth reform agenda.

The falling rupee is bad news for India’s economy, pushing up import prices and aggravating inflation that is running at over seven percent, limiting the central bank’s scope to roll back interest rates and spur the economy.

It will also further strain the government’s budget because oil imports – which are priced in dollars – will become more expensive.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee already sees a fiscal deficit in 2012/13 of 5.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).

The rupee was Asia’s worst performing currency in 2011, losing more than 20 percent of its value against the dollar in the calendar year.

The bank central said recently it had spent more than $20 billion in spot-market intervention between September and the end of February.

While the bank has a policy of not commenting on its day-to-day actions in the foreign exchange market, it said in its May bulletin that the currency’s volatility would have been worse without “the magnitude of its intervention.