Today's News & Views


Future beef: CSIRO technologies transform cattle production and meat

The Brahman cattle of northern Australia have been the subject of work in genetics and methane gas reduction.

Esther Han 12:15 AM   From imported dung beetles to friendship-detecting collars, Australia's beef industry is in an innovation frenzy to boost cattle welfare and the quality of what we eat.

Woolworths raises $15m in petrol station sales

Woolworths petrol station at Katoomba was sold in tranche in a leaseback deal.

Carolyn Cummins 12:01 PM   Woolworths has raised $15.3 million through the sale and leaseback of 10 Woolworths Petrol sites across NSW and Queensland, with the funds to be used for expansion of other operations, including its push into the smaller convenience style stores.

Tobacco giants sue Britain over rules on plain packaging

In 2012, Australia became the first developed nation to order the use of plain packaging.

David Jolly 9:54 AM   Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco, two of the world's biggest tobacco companies, sued the British government over new rules, starting next May, that would require cigarettes to be sold in plain packages.

US stocks mostly up despite worries

Fed Chair Janet Yellen reaffirmed that the Fed was on track to raise interest rates this year.

9:05 AM   Wall Street stocks moved mostly higher this week despite mixed earnings from big retailers and caution about swelling equity valuations.

BHP's $US25 million fine rings the bell on corporate sponsorship

Malcolm Maiden

Malcolm Maiden 8:19 AM   The Olympics are arguably the standout example of corporate networking because a company who's who and government who's who attends.

Hong Kong's $44b share rout spurs oversight calls

Hong Kong regulators are too hands-off as they seek to grow the local market, investors say.

Belinda Cao and Kyoungwha Kim   Should a stock exchange focus on business or regulation? After $US35 billion in market value was erased from three companies in two days, investors are asking if the city's regulator should have done more to prevent the stampede.

Low interest rates mean it's no longer business as usual

Ross Gittins

Ross Gittins   Say you win $10,000 in a lottery, but are offered the choice of receiving the money now or in three years time. Which would you pick?

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Oil's whodunit: Why millions of barrels are about to vanish

High stakes: More than half of the proved reserves of oil and natural gas liquids is from wells that don't exist yet.

Asjylyn Loder   Millions of barrels of untapped oil that US shale drillers discovered during the boom years are about to disappear - at least from their papers.

Iron ore inquiry loses out to more important matters – like a fence

Michael West dinkus Dinkus

Michael West   After a brutal lobbying campaign by BHP and Rio, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey knocked the idea for an inquiry into iron ore on the head. No big deal, there are far more important inquiries at hand. The parliamentary inquiry into a fence, for instance, proceeds apace.

Why a Sydney designer loves Kardashian Kids

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 19:  Fashion designer and manufacturer Bruno Schiavi poses for a portrait on May 19, 2015 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brianne Makin/Fairfax Media)

Sue Mitchell   Sydney-born fashion designer Bruno Schiavi has big plans for his new baby, Kardashian Kids.

Forrest takes a black eye, but vows to punch on

Some believe Andrew Forrest's limitless energy is better deployed inside the Fortescue tent, where survival is far from assured.

Peter Ker and Ky Chow   Accepting defeat does not come easily to Andrew Forrest, nor Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao.

P2P loans tipped to hit $22b in Australia by 2020

Morgan Stanley predicts P2P volumes in Australia will soar to $22 billion by 2020.

James Eyers   The value of loans made through peer-to-peer lending platforms in Australia will surge to $22 billion in the next five years, says investment bank Morgan Stanley, forcing the big banks to speed up investment in new technology. 

Vale iron ore deal a 'reminder' for Australia

China has agreed a deal with Brazilian iron ore producer Vale which will lead to it buying product at US$11 a tonne.

Tess Ingram   Roy Hill chief executive Barry Fitzgerald says the iron ore expansion deals Brazilian miner Vale inked with China this week are a reminder Australian producers need to remain competitive in the global iron ore market.

Miners dismiss claims of 'shock and ore' lobbying operation as fiction

"You shouldn't be allowed to totally manipulate governments, which is what I think has been done here": Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew Forrest.

Heath Aston   Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton have pushed back at claims by billionaire Andrew Forrest and Senator Nick Xenophon that they "monstered" government out of holding a touted inquiry into iron ore.

Retail investors lose out in IPO boom

MYOB Chairman Justin Milne rings the bell at the Australian Securities Exchange headquarters after the company was listed on May 4.

Vesna Poljak   The initial public offering market is in full swing and some of its less flattering quirks and conventions have re-emerged with the upswing in demand for new floats.

Budget stripped $15b from families


Nassim Khadem   The combined impact of the two budgets for low and middle income people was "devastating", new analysis by the Australian Council of Social Service shows.

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Poor week for ASX as bank sell-off rolls on

Banks were once again one of the main drags on the index, with NAB falling 3.74 per cent to $33.23 over the week.

Rose Powell   Banks were once again one of the main drags on the index.

A $7m loss is a good year, Morgan Stanley Australia says

Richard Wagner, Morgan Stanley Australia's head of investment banking oversaw a $7 million after-tax loss for 2014.

Shaun Drummond   Morgan Stanley's Australian investment bank has slashed its after-tax loss for 2014 by $30 million to just more than $7 million, after its advisory fee income rose by $26 million.

Oroton loses its glitter on downgrade

Oroton has scrapped its forecast of second-half earnings growth.

Carrie LaFrenz   Oroton Group's shares plunged as much as 22 per cent after the luxury handbag maker cut earnings expectations for the second time this year.

Macquarie joins clampdown on property investors

The flurry of activity in the booming investor lending market is a response to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) demanding investor lending growth slow to no more than 10 per cent a year, from 10.4 per cent today.

Clancy Yeates   Macquarie Group has joined the growing number of banks charging property investors higher interest rates, as it faces pressure to curb a rapid expansion in home lending.

IAG makes first foray into Indonesia

IAG's CEO Mike Wilkins: 'a first step' into Indonesia.

Ruth Liew   Insurance Australia Group has bought a stake in Indonesian insurer, PT Asuransi Parolamas – making it the insurance giant's sixth purchase in Asia as it continues to expand in the region.

Woolies 'definitely looking cheap' despite Masters

The Masters Home Improvement chain continues to be a hurdle for Woolworths.

Jemima Whyte and Jonathan Shapiro   Some institutional investors are cautiously expressing interest in Woolworths' shares again, despite losses in its controversial Masters hardware division continuing to deepen. 

Data, speeches key to $A's next move

Higher than expected US inflation will increase the likelihood of a US rate rise, driving the greenback  up and the Australian dollar down.

Stephen Cauchi   Currency traders await US inflation data and key speeches for developments that could break the Aussie out of its trading range around 79 US cents.

Mortgage broker AFG wobbles on ASX debut

Mortgage broker Australian Finance Group made its sharemarket debut on Friday with a market cap of $258 million.

Sally Rose   Australia's biggest mortgage broking business, Australian Finance Group, bounced back after making its sharemarket debut at a slight discount amid mounting expectations the banks will be forced to tighten property lending standards.

Active stock fund managers load up on ETFs, scrimp on cash

Fund managers say that they are turning to low cost ETFs as a way to mitigate the effects of so-called cash drag.

A growing number of mutual fund managers are slipping shares of indexed exchange traded funds into their actively managed fund portfolios.


How much exposure to banks is enough?

The capitalisation of the Australian banks has more than doubled in the past three years.

Alex Pollak   Investors considering taking up the NAB 2-for-25 rights issue need to ask: Can the banks really keep growing?

Chinese stocks head for seven-year high

The Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.9 per cent to 4617 by 2pm AEST, heading for the highest close since February 2008.

The Chinese sharemarket is heading towards its highest close since February 2008, as it looks set to finish the week with its biggest weekly gain in two months.

What the pollies won't do: apply principles to superannuation

The tax system should support and encourage superannuation savings up to the point of making people independent of the government age pension.

Michael Pascoe    We've witnessed a quiet political crime over the past week: the government ditching the best recommendation from the Murray financial system inquiry for the most cynical of political motives. You see, occupying the treasury benches is much more important than what's best and fair for the nation.

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A tech boom aimed at the few instead of the world


Farhad Manjoo   The tech industry used to think big. We are once again in a go-go time for tech, but what happened to the industry's grand, democratic visions of the future?

Man who 'bleeds aqua' ready to speak mind on Twitter

Twitter, which became a public company in November 2013, is dealing with slowing user growth and sales.

Sarah Frier   Chris Sacca, an early investor in Twitter, has been perhaps the biggest advocate of the company. Now, he's ready to get a few things off his chest.

Will South32 head north?

Perpetual's Paul Skamvougeras is concerned about valuing the miner's South African exposure.

Patrick Commins   A mining behemoth belches out the bits of its business it no longer wants at a moment approaching peak pessimism in commodity markets. What could possibly go wrong?

Fundies eye 'very difficult' future for Fortescue

Andrew Forrest's campaign against his iron ore rivals appears to be over after a mammoth deal between China and Brazil's Vale, and the government scuttling his hopes for an inquiry.

Ky Chow   Top fund managers have painted a bleak picture for Andrew Forrest's Fortescue and other "second-tier" iron ore players.

Which stocks to buy as yield trade ends

Strategists believe "yield play" in shares is past its prime, and investors should slant their portfolios towards companies that can also grow earnings.

Patrick Commins   Global bond rates are up and our sharemarket is sharply lower - is this the end of the multi-year yield trade? And which stocks should investors look at now?

Iron ore market issue for ACCC, says Abbott

Tony Abbott

Paul Osborne   Having backed away from his initial support for an inquiry, Tony Abbott says the competition watchdog is best placed to deal with any problems in the iron ore market.

'Ronald's here to stay': McDonald's CEO fronts massive grilling


Lisa Baertlein and Ross Kerber   Facing a grilling from shareholders over McDonald's sagging fortunes, the fast food chain's new chief Steve Easterbrook agreed things have to change. But there's one thing he wouldn't budge on:

Cadbury to shed 80 jobs in Hobart

Cadbury is axing 20 per cent of its workforce at its Claremont plant.

Chocolate maker Cadbury says its decision to shed 80 jobs at its Hobart factory is about keeping the doors open long term.

Miners see copper-tinted light at the end of the tunnel


Firat Kayakiran, Jesse Riseborough and Agnieszka de Sousa   The mining giants haven't agreed on much lately as they argue about how to deal with a glut of iron ore and coal. When it comes to copper, however, they all agree.

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Government walks away from iron ore inquiry

Andrew Forrest has pushed for an inquiry.

James Massola and Mathew Dunckley   The federal government has abandoned a mooted inquiry into the iron ore market kess than a week after Prime Minister Tony Abbott publicly floated the idea.

Leaner Investec looks to fatten up on property and planes

Investec Australia chief executive Milton Samios with Investec Group CEO Stephen Kosoff.

Shaun Drummond   Investec's remaining Australian business has quietly built up a $2 billion aviation fund and a $100 million joint venture private equity business.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn: Buy Apple shares, or lose out


Sam Forgione   Billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn says fund managers will increasingly come to realise that going light on Apple shares will hurt their performance as the technology giant continues to innovate.