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Today's News & Views

AAA to stay for Australia, says S&P

Dollar coins

Colin Brinsden Federal government may be frustrated by opposition to its first budget, but one major global credit rating agency appears more relaxed.

Farm sales show potential

Cow

Philip Hopkins 12:15am Farms in Victoria have risen in value by an average of 4 per cent each year for the past quarter century, new data highlighting the investment potential of the state’s agricultural land shows.

Art deco tempts developers in West Melbourne

Commercial-Property

SIMON JOHANSON 12:15am One of Melbourne’s most distinctive art deco buildings in Spencer Street is for sale after recently gaining planning approval for a 38-storey residential tower.

Sales double as investors pump up market

Total sales for industrial property trebled over the year to June, to $923 million.

SIMON JOHANSON 12:15am Total sales of commercial property in Melbourne over the year to June have almost doubled from the previous year, agents report.

Melbourne commercial property market wrap

12:15am An owner-occupier has bought a boutique freehold at 781 High Street for $850,000. Fitzroys agents Chris Kombi and James Lockwood handled the sale of the single-level, solid brick building of 75 sq m in the popular shopping precinct. The purchaser plans to convert the premises to a gallery space.

Oil company clears out of West Gate site

ExxonMobil's former storage terminal will be cleaned up for future use.

SIMON JOHANSON 12:15am ExxonMobil has pushed ahead with plans to demolish dozens of large petroleum storage tanks on a 20 acre site next to the West Gate bridge that it will remediate to potentially free-up the land for sale as an industrial park.

Grocon sells part of wall collapse site

Grocon will sell the northern part of the site.

SIMON JOHANSON 12:15am Grocon will join a rush of developers and owners divesting key assets as a wave of Asian capital washes through Melbourne’s CBD.

Agribusiness on road to recovery: report

While the offshore appetite for dairy assets is increasing, a lack of institutional-grade assets is a ‘primary drag’ on market growth.

SIMON JOHANSON 12:15am Agribusiness has bottomed out and a recovery in the sector, particularly the poultry and dairy industries, will stimulate the property market, a report says.

Chapel Street reaches for new heights under City of Stonnington planning amendment

Residents near Chapel Street fear taller developments will block the sun.

Nicole Lindsay 12:15am A controversial plan to lock in a series of new building height limits for Chapel Street and its environs has been adopted by the City of Stonnington.

Skywhale artist was hurt by criticism of her work

Patricia Pinccinini.

SALLY PRYOR 7:37pm The media was awash on Tuesday with a tidal wave of opinions and droll commentary on a large-scale public artwork planned for the Sydney CBD.

Leighton hits the road to broaden options

Leighton: on the project hunt.

Jenny Wiggins 9:02pm Leighton Holdings signals plans to compete more aggressively with contractors.

Takeovers Panel to probe Gutnick partnerships over Blackham gold mining company

Joe Gutnick.

PETER KER 6:07pm Directors of Blackham Resources want Joe Gutnick stripped of shares in the explorer.

China looks to Australia to satisfy growing grain appetite

JARED LYNCH 5:02pm Zhu Junming likes numbers and Australia. There are more than 100 million people living in his home province of Guangdong who eat about 12 million tonnes of grains year.

Elizabeth Knight: Vodafone aims high on market share

Elizabeth Knight Dinkus

ELIZABETH KNIGHT 4:54pm Australia’s number three mobile phone carrier, Vodafone, made a pretty ambitious statement on Tuesday about its 4G coverage: that it would be as – or even more – extensive than that of Telstra in capital cities by the end of the calendar year and significantly ahead of Optus.

China eyeing more rural plays in Australia

Zhu Junming.

JARED LYNCH 7:09pm Zhu Junming likes numbers and Australia.

A win for philanthropy and doughnuts as John Kinghorn overturns corrupt conduct tag

CBD - Colin Kruger - dinkus Dinkus

COLIN KRUGER 4:43pm On Tuesday, the Supreme Court overturned a corrupt conduct finding against Rams Home Loans founder John Kinghorn after he hid the involvement of Eddie Obeid and his family in an incredibly lucrative mining deal.

Graeme Hart abandons packaging dream

Strategic review: New Zealand entrepeneur Graeme Hart is being forced to think outside the box.

Sue Mitchelll 10:13pm Less than 10 years after building the world’s largest packaging empire, New Zealand-based entrepreneur Graeme Hart is considering selling off key assets to reduce a $US18 billion debt mountain.

Reserve Bank may be forced to cut interest rates further, says Goldman Sachs

Reserve Bank chairman Glenn Stevens may be making an interest rate move sooner than expected, according to Goldman Sachs.

Jonathan Shapiro 4:15pm The Reserve Bank may be forced to cut the official cash rate before the end of the year to beat back a wall of foreign money that has driven the Australian dollar higher, according to Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s bond expert, Phil Moffitt.

Disaster for Penrice creditors

Tony Abbott meeting Penrice workers last September.

Simon Evans 4:13pm Hundreds of creditors to the failed ASX-listed Penrice Soda Holdings are facing a disastrous outcome, with administrators warning they won’t receive any of the money owed to them.

Latrobe Valley brown coal plant mothballed

TOM ARUP 6:25pm The Energy Brix brown coal power plant and briquette factory in the Latrobe Valley will be mothballed and the majority of its 37 workers made redundant.

ALS shares slide on profit warning

3:45pm ALS shares have fallen after the analytical testing services group forecast a 26.5 per cent fall in its first half year profit.

New home sales rise, but HIA issues warning

New home sales have been strong.

Stephen Cauchi 2:39pm New home sales edged higher in June and for the second quarter of 2014, according to figures released on Tuesday by the Housing industry Association.

QBE must stop blindsiding the market

Malcolm Maiden dinkus Dinkus

MALCOLM MAIDEN 6:17am The problem with repeatedly setting targets and missing them is painfully obvious to QBE chief executive John Neal.

Mining optimism plummets with closures

2:10pm Optimism plummets amid predictions of more coal mine closures and more redundancies following already heavy job cuts amid weaker commodity prices.

Asia-Pacific's private wealth surges as region closes in on North America

Private wealth rises in Asia-Pacific.

Stewart Oldfield 2:47pm A recent survey by BCG found that, on a regional basis, the Asia-Pacific region continues to post the strongest growth in private wealth globally (up 30.5 per cent to $37.0 trillion last year).

Consumers get their groove back

4:42pm Consumer and business confidence levels are improving, with people shaking off their budget woes and company startups on the rise.

Confidence falls among big firms

cash

Luke Malpass 2:03pm Business confidence among Australia’s largest listed firms has fallen sharply over the June quarter, undermined by the tight federal budget and coinciding with a reluctance to spend.

Rinehart says high costs hurting Australia

12:53pm Gina Rinehart says Australia's high costs need to be addressed if it is to compete internationally, starting with the scrapping of the MRRT.

Nissan profit beats estimates on gains in China, US demand

Ma Jie and Yuki Hagiwara 12:28pm Nissan, Japan's second-biggest car maker, reported profit that beat analysts' estimate as deliveries rose in China and the US, its two biggest markets.

Microsoft in China target of potential probe

12:30pm Chinese regulators met with managers at Microsoft Corp's offices in four cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, in preparation for a potential probe into whether the company engaged in monopolistic practices, Sina.com said.

Wall Street

US stocks little changed after big deals

Is the golden run of US stocks about to end? Three in five investors seem to think so, according to a Bloomberg survey.

11:56am US stocks have finished mixed following prominent corporate deals and a drop in pending home sales as investors look ahead to fresh earnings and labour market data.

Housing

New home sales lift in June quarter

Sales of flats, townhouses and semi-detached houses were up 15.9 per cent in June.

11:48am The housing market continues to strengthen, albeit at a more moderate pace, helped by a surge in multi-unit dwellings.

Housing sector gaining strength

Jason Cadden 1:50pm New home sales were up 1.2 per cent in June, seasonally adjusted, and were up two per cent in the June quarter, Housing Industry Association data show.

Tribunal awards Yukos shareholders $53 billion for illegal seizure by Kremlin

'Thrilled': Tim Osborne.

Stanley Reed 1:51pm An international tribunal in The Hague has awarded the shareholders of the now-defunct Yukos oil company about $US50 billion, in ruling on claims that the Russian government illegally seized the company from one of the country’s most powerful oligarchs.

Expletive-ridden Lloyds emails reveal extent of market rigging

Rate manipulation was common at the big tender.

Richard Partington 5:24pm Internal emails, telephone calls and instant messages show how rate manipulation had become a common business practice at Lloyds Banking Group plc.

Beach Energy flags lower production

12:55pm Beach Energy's shares are under pressure after the energy company warned of a fall in production next year.

Consumers feeling more confident

10:00am Consumers have finally overcome their worries about the government's planned budget cuts, with confidence levels on the rise.

Mining

Miners shift iron ore price in push back against China

Whitehaven's coal production has hit record levels.

PETER KER 4:26pm Australian iron ore miners have sought to variate crucial reference points that help to set contract prices for the bulk commodity, in a bid to temper China's push for lower prices.The benchmark iron ore price has been below $US100 per tonne for more than two months, and Chinese buyers have been unwilling to buy lower grade iron ore unless offered a discount of between 15 per cent and 20 per cent below the benchmark price.

Hart's Reynolds Group ponders sales

Paul McBeth 10:01am Reynolds Group, controlled by New Zealand billionaire Greme Hart, may sell some of its businesses to reduce its debt levels.

ASX

Housing, consumer data boosts ASX

Markets

SALLY ROSE 5:09pm Strong unofficial housing sector and consumer confidence data helped the Australian sharemarket finish ahead on Tuesday, despite some heavy losses in QBE Insurance and ALS Ltd as company reporting season continued with more disappointing news.

QBE profit downgrade a 'one off'

Evan Schwarten 4:28pm QBE has issued yet another profit downgrade but chief executive John Neal says the insurer is continuing to improve.

BPAY View enjoys surge thanks to smartphone users

The number of BPAY View billers jumped 137 per cent between March 2013 and March 2014

Shaun Drummond 10:17pm The willingness of smartphone users to pay bills online has sparked a sudden surge in the use of BPAY’s online billing product, BPAY View – a full 12 years after it was created.Between March 2013 and March 2014, the number of registered users on BPAY View jumped by 21 per cent. This growth rate has been tailing off a little, but for the 2014 financial year was up 18.6 per cent, with 4.2 million active BPAY View registrations.

Insurance

$1.7b hit: QBE chief pleads for patience

QBE is likely to post an 18 per cent plunge in half-year profit next month.

Ruth Liew 6:22am Embattled global insurer QBE Insurance Group has disappointed shareholders with yet another shock downgrade, signalling a drop in insurance profit for the six months to June due to festering problems in its Latin American division.

Allied Press scoops up Oamaru Mail

10:01am The owner of the ODT has bought neighbouring NZ newspaper the Oamaru Mail for an undisclosed sum.

Aust bonds subdued ahead of key US news

4:53pm Australian bond futures prices are a touch weaker ahead of the release of three key economic announcements from the US.

Stocks to watch at close on Tuesday

4:24pm Stocks of interest on the Australian Securities Exchange at close on Tuesday

Commodities markets summary

8:00am Commodities news from around the world

International markets roundup

7:23am News from the world’s major stock markets

Late burst pushes share market higher

Petrina Berry 5:10pm The Australian share market has closed higher despite being in negative territory for most of the day, as iron ore miners stage a late surge.

$A steady ahead of US economic news

Kim Christian 5:28pm The Australian dollar remains close to 94 US cents, but could fall later in the week if US jobs figures and economic growth data are strong.

need2know

need2know: Caution signals steady start

No signs of crisis despite sharp market falls: AFR (Thumbnail)

6:56am Mixed corporate news and economic reports in the US has provided no direction for local stocks ahead of Tuesday's opening.

Last-minute website for private schools

Scots School Bathurst.

ALEXANDRA SMITH Just like finding a last-minute flight or accommodation deal, parents will now be able to find last-minute vacancies and discounts at some NSW private schools.

CBD

Barnaby Joyce's imperial drive

CBD - Colin Kruger - dinkus

COLIN KRUGER Australia's grain industry could elevate the country to the strength of the Roman Empire, as food producers look to cash in on a fast growing middle-class in Asia.

Nissan profit rises on strong sales

Nissan Motor Co has reported a better-than-expected income of 112 billion yen for April-June.

Business Council calls for economic reforms to stave off bleak future

Economy.

MICHAEL GORDON Australia faces a bleak future of higher unemployment and lower living standards without an urgent and fundamental ''mindset change'' by governments, business and individuals, according to a landmark study of competitiveness.

Maritime Union of Australia threatens Chevron Gorgon project

A planned Pilbara strike will impact supply operations at Gorgon.

Julie-anne Sprague The Maritime Union of Australia has accused the operator of a key Pilbara supply base of failing to take pay negotiations seriously, triggering a 10-day strike that it says will impact Chevron’s $US54 billion Gorgon project.

Resources

Adani coal mine approved amid weaker prices

The proposed $16.5 billion Indian-owned Adani Carmichael coal mine project in the Galilee Basin has been given federal government approval.

BRIAN ROBINS Indian utility Adani has won environmental approval from the federal government for the proposal to proceed only a matter of weeks after it concluded plans to build the rail link for the project, even though the sustained downturn in coal prices threatens to undermine the project's viability.

Leighton reports 20% fall in first-half net profits

Jenny Wiggins Leighton Holdings dropped out of the bidding race for Melbourne’s $8 billion East West Link road tunnel last month because the project was too risky, chief executive Marcelino Fernandez Verdes said as the construction group reported a 20 per cent fall in first-half net profits to $291.3 million.

Regulation

Prime Trust founder Bill Lewski should be banned from corporate life: ASIC

Bill Lewski

GEORGIA WILKINS The founder of failed retirement village group Prime Trust, Bill Lewski, is "highly likely" to engage in further wrongdoing and should be banned from running companies for the rest of his life, the corporate regulator says.

Go global or risk failure, report warns

Peter Trute Australia has to change its industries and workforce to become competitive in the global marketplace, a new report warns.

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