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    ASX slides for a third straight week


    2019 - 02.13

    The ASX ended a week dominated again by worries about North Korea with a loss, while the Australian dollar soared to a two-year high.
    Nanjing Night Net

    The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.3 per cent on Friday to 5672.6, with the move bringing losses for the week to 0.9 per cent and three-week losses to around 1.3 per cent.

    The week started on a sour note after North Korea’s successful nuclear test on Sunday raised the risk of the world spiralling into a military conflict with the rogue nation and amid speculation of further aggression from the rogue state this weekend.

    “We need to brace for possibly more instability as there is some thought that North Korea may launch its intercontinental ballistic missile this Saturday on National Foundation Day,” Bell Potter strategist RIchard Coppleson said.

    This weekend is also expected to see Hurricane Irma making landfall in the US, with the storm coming hard on the heels of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation of Texas.

    Investors are starting to fret that this year’s US storm season will take a toll on the US economy, one of the factors that has helped to depress the US dollar this week and conversely pushed the Australian dollar to over US81?? on Friday, its highest level since May 2015.

    The RBA’s reassuring comments on the Australian economy on Tuesday while keeping interest rates on hold at 1.5 per cent, and GDP numbers on Wednesday that were mildly weaker than forecast but still robust, also offered support to the currency this week.

    The US dollar drop went hand-in-hand with a drop in US yields. US banks suffered and Australian banks followed their American counterparts during the week, with the financials sector losing 2.5 per cent over the five sessions.

    Citi bank analysts commented that despite the recent share price falls in the Australian listed banks, that they “see little room for share price improvement from here”.

    CBA lost 3 per cent over the week, NAB lost 1 per cent, ANZ fell 2.5 per cent and Westpac declined 1.7 per cent.

    Miners had a better week, however, with the sector gaining 0.5 per cent as Rio TInto and Newcrest rose 0.3 per cent and South 32 jumped 6.1 per cent.

    “The sector is in the best shape we have seen from a balance sheet perspective, with a large part of our coverage either net cash or close to ungeared,” said JPMorgan analysts who expect the sector to continue to grind higher in the short term.

    AGL also rose over the week, with the power company up 1.4 per cent as analysts speculated it could benefit from possible electricity shortages.

    For the broader market, Citi strategist Tony Brennan for one is optimistic. He said that with earnings growth close to trend at around 5 per cent, plus the market dividend yield of 4-5 per cent, equities could still deliver roughly 10 per cent returns which compares well to low rates and yields on other investments.

    “And returns could be higher near term with resource earnings recovering, reflected in our forecast for the S&P/ASX 200 to reach 6,400 by mid-2018, a gain of 12 per cent,” he added. Stock watchSyrah Resources

    Syrah Resources jumped 18.2 per cent over the week. It gained on Friday after the graphite products supplier said that it has signed a binding sales agreement with BTR New Energy Materials. Under the deal, Syrah will supply 30,000 tonnes of graphite from its Balama operation to BTR New Energy. The supply deal covers the first first year of production from the Balama operation. The shares posted their biggest intra-day percentage gain since December last year on Friday and Syrah Resources topped the list of gainers in the Australian benchmark S&P/200 index at one point during the trading day. Syrah CEO Shaun Verner said: “This contract is a significant and material step forward for Syrah. The relationship will see Syrah’s high quality graphite placed into the lithium-ion battery market.” MoversChina trade data

    China’s imports grew 13.3 percent from a year earlier, official data showed on Friday, handily beating analysts’ forecast of 10 percent, after rising 11.0 percent in July. Exports showed some signs of softening, however, with growth cooling to 5.5 percent from a year earlier, roughly in line with analysts’ forecasts for a 6.0 percent increase but down from 7.2 percent in July. The mixed performance left China with a trade surplus of $41.99 billion for August, the lowest since May. Earnings ‘drift’

    Research by Deutsche Bank shows that among top 100 ASX stocks over the past 10 years, companies which beat consensus earnings expectations during reporting season typically outperform the market by 2.5 percentage points over the week after results, and by an additional 3 percentage points over the subsequent six months. Stocks that stand to benefit from this trend now and have a “buy” rating from the broker are Medibank, Oil Search, Santos, Star, and Tatts. Others are Flight Centre, Fortescue, GPT, Orora, and Perpetual. Gold

    Gold prices have hit a fresh one-year high early after the US dollar sagged overnight as traders bought the euro and amid continuing worries around Hurricane Irma and North Korea. Spot gold has added another 0.5 per cent in today’s trade to $US1357.20 per ounce, its highest since September 2016. US president Donald Trump said overnight he would prefer not to use military action against North Korea to counter its nuclear and missile threat but that if he did it would be a “very sad day” for the leadership in Pyongyang. Home loans

    The number of home loan approvals rose 2.9 per cent in July, beating market expectations for an increase of 1 per cent. But the value of total housing finance fell 0.9 per cent to $33.03 billion in the month, seasonally adjusted data from to the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed. The value of loans approved for owner-occupied housing rose 0.9 per cent in July, while the value of loans for investment housing fell 3.9 per cent, compared to June.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Eales questions need for Senate inquiry into ARU ahead of forgotten Test


    2019 - 02.13

    World Cup-winning Wallabies captain and Australian Rugby Union director John Eales has questioned the need for a Senate inquiry into the game’s governing body, saying there is nothing he or anyone on the board has to hide.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Eales’ comments came on the eve of a Wallabies Test match that, quite frankly, most people have forgotten about, given the events of this week when it became apparent the Western Force would almost certainly be turfed out of Super Rugby next year.

    There is palpable animosity in the west towards the ARU board, headed by Cameron Clyne, as well as chief executive Bill Pulver, who has flown into town, no doubt hoping to keep his head down on the streets of Perth.

    West Australian senator Linda Reynolds is also angry and it was her motion put before the Senate on Wednesday that initiated an inquiry into the ARU, to try and get to the bottom of why the Force were put on the chopping block.

    Since then the ARU has released documents that include a timeline of events and the core reasons behind its decision, which has only made public now given it was bound by legal constraints throughout the year.

    Clyne expressed his bemusement at the inquiry on Thursday and on Friday it was Eales’ turn to question the appropriateness of public money being spent on putting the microscope over the ARU.

    “There’s nothing we can do to stop that but I know that there is nothing the ARU or the ARU board has got to hide,” Eales said. “People can go through that [document]. We’ve published everything. Go through that timeline and there’s detail.

    “I would seriously question whether there is a need for that [inquiry]. It’s not me making that decision [whether it should happen].

    “That timeline that the ARU have got on their website ??? paints it really clearly what actually happened through that process and articulates that very well.”

    Pulver, Clyne and Eales will attend the Wallabies match at nib Stadium against the Springboks and already fans are doing their best investigative work to find out where the ARU’s head honchos will be sitting.

    While the Wallabies are expected to be treated to a warm Perth welcome, the same cannot be said for ARU executives.

    “It’s hard to anticipate what things will be like [on Saturday],” Eales said. “Everyone involved in this, in every side of the issue, you’ve got people who have put their heart and soul into the game and that’s the tough thing.

    “Everyone is doing what they think is right. You have issues where there is going to be conflicting views on what people think is the right thing. Everyone has acted with that as a basis for their decision.

    “You’ve got to look at them as two separate issues. These Force guys have no involvement with any of the decisions; they’re just out there representing their country,” he said.

    “It’s important that people can express themselves and if they come out in their Western Force blue, that’s a great thing too because it’s a strong community here.”

    In the background of all this, the Wallabies have been preparing for what could be one of their most hard-fought matches in the Rugby Championship.

    The spotlight this week should have been solely on them and discussion around whether they can back-up a spirited showing in Dunedin a fortnight ago.

    Captain Michael Hooper conceded the elephant in the room had to be discussed, but does not believe it will be a distraction once the national anthems have been sung on Saturday.

    “It hasn’t been swept under the rug by any means,” Hooper said. “We dealt with it when that stuff happened earlier on in the week and obviously we supported the guys who it directly impacted.

    “It impacted all of us. The best way we can offer our support is by focusing on the common goal … and that’s this Test match.

    “Despite the tough times that have been had over here in WA, they’ve had some great support this week. Come tomorrow, I’m pumped to see them all turn out here … [in] whatever jersey they wear, supporting Australia in whatever way.”

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Wade and Maxwell on shaky ground for Ashes


    2019 - 02.13

    Chittagong: Darren Lehmann has backed Usman Khawaja to play the first Ashes Test, but the Australian coach was considerably more equivocal when talking about the spots of Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade and the chance four fast bowlers could be unleashed to take on England in Brisbane.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Australia fought back from their upset defeat at the hands of Bangladesh last week to level their two-Test series with a seven wicket win in Chittagong, but the tour has shed only limited light on the make-up of Australia’s team for this summer.

    The first ball at the Gabba is still 2?? months away, with a limited overs tour of India, the domestic one-day competition and the start of the Sheffield Shield season all to come before the battle for the urn begins.

    Despite that, Lehmann hinted that Khawaja’s position was not in doubt despite the batsman being dropped for the second Test in Bangladesh after his struggles in the subcontinent continued with scores of one and one in the first Test loss in Dhaka.

    Khawaja averages more than 63 from 13 Tests on home soil, which, according to Lehmann, should be enough to ensure his place at the start of the series. “I would think Usman would play the first Test match, although I’m only one of four selectors,” Lehmann said before the Australian team’s departure from Bangladesh.

    “Obviously for the make-up of the side we changed it here, but we think he’s a pretty special player and obviously he’s got a really good record in Australia.”

    Maxwell’s situation is different to Khawaja’s, given all seven of the Victorian’s Tests have come in Asia. Batting in the middle order, Maxwell has averaged 37 in four Tests since being recalled midway through the tour of India earlier this year, but despite several starts he has not reached the heights of his breakthrough century in Ranchi in seven subsequent Test innings. He has also been bowled sparingly by captain Steve Smith, taking just one wicket with his spin in the Bangladesh series.

    Lehmann suggested Maxwell’s position would be up for grabs in the Shield. “With No.6 in Australia, it’s totally different to Asia,” Lehmann said.

    “We’ll certainly be looking at that position, and anyone can jump out of the pack in the three Shield games and what we think the best make-up is for that first Test. Glenn is there at the moment, like everyone else, he’ll have to perform.”

    Likewise Wade’s hold on the wicketkeeping position appears tenuous after he made just 17 runs in three innings in Bangladesh. Wade is averaging just over 20 with the bat since returning to the team late last year, and Australia’s selectors had mulled over the possibility of leaving him out of the team for Chittagong and handing the gloves to Peter Handscomb. Lehmann would not rule out the possibility of Handscomb keeping in the Ashes, although he acknowledged that Handscomb had tired from fielding under a helmet at short leg during the Chittagong Test, the inference being that his batting could be affected if he had to keep against England.

    “We look at all scenarios,” Lehmann said.

    “We look at the best XI that’s going to perform for the game. One thing we do know is Pete doesn’t survive too well under a helmet all day, does he? So for us, it was the right call. Matthew was great [in his keeping] this game. End of the day, we love having the best keeper all the time; the subcontinent is a little bit different.

    “We obviously want runs from our keeper as well, which is important so for him and all the other keepers around the country. The Shield games are going to be important.”

    Australia’s attack for the Brisbane Test is also in question. Lehmann guaranteed off-spinner Nathan Lyon would play after his record-breaking feats in Bangladesh, but the coach also left the door ajar for all of Pat Cummins, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc to feature as well. While Cummins impressed in Bangladesh, the other three quicks are all on the comeback trail from injury, though all three are expected to be ready for the start of the series.

    “End of the day, we just have to see how it all pans out,” Lehmann said.

    “With injuries, the bowling stocks, how they all come back and what the wicket is like. That’s still a long, long way away.”

    Lehmann will be relieved by assistant coach David Saker for the India series before a busy home summer.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Stop ‘drip feed’ of bad news: RBA’s plea to banks


    2019 - 02.13

    Wayne Byres SF Fin, Chairman, APRA at the FINSIA Signature event- The Regulators, in Sydney, on September 8, 2017. Photo: Jessica Hromas EMBARGOED FOR AFR MONDAY 17TH JULY 2017. ASIC Chairman Greg Medcraft on his legacy. Thursday 13th July 2017 AFR photo Louie Douvis.
    Nanjing Night Net

    Distrust of Australia’s banks will continue unless the “drip feed” of industry scandals ends and banks own up to problems rather than hoping bad news can be kept from the public eye, regulators have warned.

    Three of the country’s most powerful financial regulators on Friday called on banks to be more open when things go wrong, after a series of scandals in recent years put the spotlight on the industry’s culture.

    They highlighted that many of the problems dogging banks today occurred several years before the news became public, and this further fuelled the negative perception of banks.

    Reserve Bank deputy governor Guy Debelle said the “drip feed of issue after issue after issue” across many parts of the financial sector had exacerbated public distrust.

    “No one feels that anything particularly has changed, because even if the issue occurred a few years ago, it still generates the headlines today, and just reinforces the belief,” Dr Debelle said at a FINSIA lunch in Sydney.

    “It would be very nice to have some comfort that actually the cupboard is now bare ??? that there isn’t anything more which is going to come and just further undermine that lack of trust in the industry.”

    The chairman of the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, Wayne Byres, said a priority for banks should be to “talk about problems and what you’re doing in response to them, rather than hoping no one finds out”.

    “If you think about many of the issues that now are generating headlines and public debate, many of them happened three or four years ago. No one revealed them,” he said.

    “A more pro-active approach is saying: ‘We have an issue, we find it, we report it, we fix it, and if necessary we compensate’.”

    Mr Byres, who has led a crackdown on banks’ higher-risk home loans, also said APRA would maintain the pressure on banks over lending standards in the mortgage market in 2018, citing “heightened risk” in the housing market.

    Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft noted that in recent years several of the country’s banks had been embroiled in scandals spanning financial advice and life insurance, alongside alleged interest rate rigging.

    Commonwealth Bank was also last month accused by Austrac of a mass breach of anti-money laundering laws, and ASIC is investigating whether it should have told investors earlier about the allegations.

    “It’s not a particularly pretty report card, I just hope there’s not another one around the corner,” Mr Medcraft said.

    Mr Medcraft, who steps down later this year and has been a persistent critic of banks, said lenders should focus on treating customers fairly, designing products that were suitable for consumers and improving how they handled complaints.

    Also on Friday, APRA said its former boss, John Laker, former head of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Graeme Samuel and company director Jillian Broadbent would conduct the review of CBA it announced in late August.

    Treasurer Scott Morrison welcomed the inquiry and repeated his dismissal of Labor’s demand for a royal commission into banks as little more than a political stunt.

    “This is a real inquiry that’s taking action right now in the measures that it can move forward with, should it need to,” Mr Morrison said.

    The APRA inquiry will not look at the specific allegations made by Austrac.

    In a statement, APRA said: “The goal of the inquiry is to identify any shortcomings in the governance, culture and accountability frameworks and practices within CBA, and make recommendations as to how they are promptly and adequately addressed.”

    CBA said it noted and welcomed the appointments and looked “forward to providing them with our full cooperation”.

    ???with Mathew Dunckley

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Anger over plebiscite does not discriminate


    2019 - 02.13

    UNITED IN RAGE: Letter writer Antony Bennett tells Dr Stuart Edser (left) and Chris May most Australians are angry at the Prime Minister for “his gutless and divisive stance.”It’s all okay Stuart Edser and Chris May (“Vows against ‘immoral’ vote” Herald 8/9), whether you are involved or not in the LGBTI community, I think the vast majority of Australians will not forgive Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his gutless and divisive stance on this major non-issue.
    Nanjing Night Net

    At least with Tony Abbott, you knew what you got and we got what we deserved. He was and is, at the very least, true to himself. What does this current populist, wishy-washy and weak prime minister trulybelieve in? Mr Turnbull then has the temerity in Parliament to spinthe High Court ruling as some strong leadership position in allowing “all Australians a voice”. Give me strength!

    But more importantly PM, you get some strength. To add insult to LGBTI injury, he proudly proclaims to one and all that “Lucy and I will be voting yes”as if he is the Messiah and we will all follow him down this enlightened path. If you are a supporter of same sex marriage,Mr Turnbull, why didn’t you just simply lead the debate, stand-up to the ultra right wing of your party, save us all a bucket load of money and drive this “reform”through?

    Oh yes, Dr Edser, we all share your anger.

    Antony Bennett,Bar BeachTIME TO FOCUS ON DEBATEI am very interested in the claim in the Herald (8/9) that a poll on the views of Australians regarding marriage is an “immoral vote” (“Vows against‘immoral’ vote”,Herald8/9), and I am wondering how is this so. If there is a moral value here, I am not aware of it.There are those who, while not supporting the redefining of marriage, find that they stand on a moral point and so the issue is what morality are we speaking of? I do know that some would say that while they do not support a change to marriage they do want to find a good path forward so that all will in their own way. The divisive manner of this campaign seems to be in the court of the yes supporters. While there has been a poor history to this point, perhaps the proverbial hatchet should be laid to rest and honest, respectful discussion should commence to find some common ground.

    On this subject I have heard claims from the supporters of the yes campaign that a lot of violence will accompany the issue being raised in the community. I do know that there are some on the no side of the campaign that use intemperate language from time to time, but on the most part I believe the name-calling and the violence has come from the yes side of the campaign towards the people who attend meetings where the no case is put forward.

    I found it interesting that even the uncommitted who may attend a no campaign meeting are yelled at, abused andcalled bigots as they enter. I have not heard of any of this when the yes case meet, and so I believeone must wonder where the hate is coming from.

    Milton Caine,Birmingham GardensAN INFORMAL PROPOSITIONI was hoping the same-sex marriage postal survey would pass the High Court(“Vows against‘immoral’ vote” Herald8/9)because I want to boycott it in the hope of seeing the issue unresolved and left around Malcolm Turnbull’s neck like a smelly dead albatross for as long as possible.

    I agree with former High Court Justice Michael Kirby that for same-sex attracted people to have to go cap-in-hand and ask the human animal herd for their human rights is an insult.

    Ignorance breeds prejudice and prejudice breeds hate. I find most Australians to be under-educated, unread, heads filled with nonsense from listening to fools – I’m using polite language here – and so multi-ignorant and therefore multi-prejudiced.

    For example, many are stupidly racist because they don’t know the simple science that all humans are one speciesand that skin colour is just an adaptation to climate. Same sex interactions occur in many species and are just a part of nature or the real world, and hurt no-one.

    I want to have a laugh watching Mr Turnbull trying to round up his herd of moral dinosaurs to address some form of SSM legislation in the Parliament.

    To gain their rights, our same-sex-attracted brothers and sisters may have to wait for a future parliament, one that operates on common-sense human decency.I’ll be returning my envelope but with no box ticked, just a few remarks about what those who feel the need tomind other people’s business can do with their survey-plebiscite.

    Les Hutchinson,South MaitlandTHAT BUMPY ROAD TO RUSSIA We are all disappointed the Socceroos failed to achieve direct qualification to the World Cup (“Dramatic win for Socceroos”Herald 6/9)but hopefully we can make it through the next two rounds.Maybe coach Ange Postecoglou deserves a little criticism at times but not the rubbish thrown at him by Robbie Slater and Mark Bosnich, both former Socceroos, now commentators.Both failed to make World Cup finals and some of their performances in the qualifying rounds they played inwere average.With more than 230 teams trying to gain a place in the world’s greatest sporting event, it is a hard road. In Ange we trust.

    Lyall Burrell,WallsendA COMPETITIVE VISIONSCOT MacDonald claimed “we have had the predictable push back from the state MP Tim Crakanthorp MP” (“Newcastle invited to dream big for Broadmeadow”Herald7/9). I have spent the last two years lobbying the state government to finalise the draft masterplan and to get moving.

    In fact, I have brought many stakeholders to the table to have their vision and thoughts considered in this plan – how many stakeholders have you brought to the table, Mr MacDonald?My vision is for a world-class sporting and entertainment precinct that can continue to attract world-class events like the Asian Cupor even a Commonwealth Gamesto Newcastle. A precinct that is connected to an integrated transport network and is a hub for sport and entertainment in northern NSW.The Berejiklian government is spending billions of dollars on stadia in Sydney. My vision is for Newcastle and the Hunter to receive its fair share of funding to realise the potential the Broadmeadow precinct holds. One might again question if Mr MacDonald and his government share the same vision?

    Tim Crakanthorp, Newcastle State MPLETTER OF THE WEEKThe Herald pen goes to Chris Cull, of Cooks Hill, for his submission on Malcolm Turnbull and his future legacy as a leader.