ASB Securities Morning Brief for Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Tuesday, 22 April 2014

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand stock rose after shares in the partially privatised Genesis Energy soared as much as 18 percent in its debut listing on the NZX, buoying other listed energy companies in the process. Meridian Energy, MightyRiverPower, Contact Energy and TrustPower paced gains. The NZX 50 Index rose 12.799 points, or about 0.3 percent, to 5103.348. Within the index, 22 stocks rose, 17 fell and 11 were unchanged. Turnover was $149.6 million, which excludes Genesis, which is not part of the index as yet... Read more

The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 0.8 percent fall in a shortened week ahead of the Reserve Bank's rate review next Thursday. The kiwi dropped to 86.16 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 86.86 cents on Friday in New York, and from 86.27 cents at 8am and 85.87 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index traded at 79.97 from 79.75 yesterday, and is heading for a 0.4 percent weekly decline from 80.26... Read more

AMP Capital selling kiwi dollar in expectation of decline... Read more

Another rise in the official cash rate, to 3 per cent, on Thursday is seen as a virtual certainty. But the markets will scrutinise the accompanying statement for signs that the fact that dairy prices and the exchange rate have parted company is giving the Reserve Bank second thoughts about the pace and ultimate extent of the monetary tightening still to come. Money market pricing implies a 97 per cent chance the bank will raise its policy rate 25 basis points this week and then either three or four more times by this time next year. And a Reuters poll of 17 economic forecasters found near-universal expectation of another hike in June and a majority expecting two more by the end of the year... Read more

The Reserve Bank will lift interest rates again this week, to 3 per cent, but may not raise them as much as earlier expected over the next two years, economists say. The central bank raised the Official Cash Rate to 2.75 per cent in the middle of last month, and is widely expected to move again on Thursday this week, and again in June. The Reserve Bank was the first central bank in the developed world to raise rates... Read more

NZ economists reject doom and gloom claims from US analyst... Read more

'NZ's economic bubble will pop' – economist who predicted GFC... Read more

Dangerous heights: Interest rate peak poses big risk. Interest rates could peak at a level which would see first-home buyers in Auckland spending two-thirds of household income paying the mortgage, or even more, ASB economists say. They forecast the peak for the official cash rate in the tightening cycle the Reserve Bank embarked on last month to be around 4.5 per cent - the level they and the Reserve Bank regard as roughly neutral, neither stimulating nor restraining the economy... Read more

The new hot and cold spots for first homes. Reserve Bank's tactics of limiting number of low-deposit loans is affecting first-home buyers, study shows, and is rapidly changing the landscape of the Auckland property market as some suburbs surge ahead.... Read more

Reed Construction Data reported an increase in the value of March construction starts, excluding residential contracts. After a 14.2% decrease in February, March starts surged to $23.7 billion – a 46.9% increase and the highest value for starts since November 2013. Starts were up a modest 0.4% from March 2013. Year-to-date starts data, which totaled $58.6 billion, were down 2.9% from the same period in 2013. March starts data are an indication construction is bouncing back from the harsh winter weather... Read more

A new entity driving the provision of affordable housing in Christchurch could lead to a financial boon for the city council and cheaper rent for social housing tenants. The housing entity is being set up by the Christchurch City Council as part of a Housing Accord with the Government. It will be structured so that it qualifies for new income-related rent subsidies. The subsidies allow community housing providers, such as churches and trusts, to charge tenants no more than 25 per cent of their income to rent social houses. The Government then tops up the difference to the market rent of the house... Read more

Can conditions get better for NZ equities?... Read more

Dairy NZ says won't tolerate being 'whipping boy' over urban complaints about water quality any more; Fish and Game calls for water inquiry... Read more

US tech company buys NZ software developer. New Zealand software developer Optima has been sold to a United States technology firm for an undisclosed sum. The Auckland-based company provides systems that can inform emergency service providers, such as ambulance operators, where they need to place vehicles and how many paramedics they need to service different parts of a city. Chief executive Chris Mackay said the acquisition by Florida's Intermedix was completed last weekend.... Read more

Superyacht owners in $190m tourism plan. A new partnership between tourism agencies and the marine industry aims to double spending by wealthy superyacht owners and their crew to $190 million a year. The campaign has been welcomed by a leading agent who provided marine and tourism services for the megayacht A and many superyachts which visited during summer... Read more

A massive slip at the open pit of the Macraes Gold Mine in Otago cut off access to underground workers, mining company Oceana Gold says. The company confirmed the slip occurred yesterday following heavy rain in the area. The mine site, which consists of an open pit, an underground mine and an adjacent processing plant, is located between Palmerston and Ranfurly. "At the Macraes open pit operation, located at Macraes Flat, Otago, a section of the west wall failed following heavy rainfall,'' Oceana Gold said in a statement... Read more

A compressor breakdown has extended the Marsden Pt Oil Refinery's planned shutdown by up to 10 days and could cost NZ Refining up to $17 million in lost earnings. Refining NZ communication and external affairs manager Greg McNeill said the problem, which led to the shutdown of the refinery's hydrocracker that makes diesel, should not affect the country's fuel stocks, but will hit the company's bottom line... Read more

Site 'too risky' to store fuel. A rival oil company removed petrol from the Lyttelton site beside Mobil's ruptured tank because it deemed the location too risky for storage. Mobil is under investigation by Environment Canterbury (ECan) and Worksafe New Zealand after its secondary containment failed to hold 1.2 million litres of jet fuel. The tank ruptured in a landslide on March 5. The tank's secondary containment, or bund, should have held all the jet fuel, but it had five holes and earlier repairs failed.... Read more

All restrictions on the movement of fruit and vegetables in Whangarei have been lifted after rigorous checks found no further sign of the Queensland fruit fly. Two weeks of trapping, fruit sampling and testing have been completed and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says there is no longer any need for residents to be restricted in their movements of produce. New Zealand's fruit fly-free status remains intact, MPI chief operations officer Andrew Coleman says... Read more

Out of the rough - golf's sell-off saves the clubs. Selling entire courses or fringe parcels to developers is seen as a way to repay debt and maintain facilities as the once-popular sport faces a decline in membership with the young looking to different leisure pastimes.... Read more

Trustees Executors is suing the former Canterbury managers of a failed $250 million mortgage fund which lent for property investment and development. The legal action by the trustee of the mortgage fund comes almost six years after the $250m fund was frozen following a run on funds. It results from a probe into loans where the fund lost more than 10 per cent of the loan. Among the borrowers were developers David Henderson and Terry Serepisos, although the fund was promoted as being a conservative lender... Read more

A Russian beer enthusiast who spoke barely any English flew tens of thousands of kilometres to buy two personal brewing machines in New Zealand and used Google Translate to broker the deal. Timor Israilov surprised WilliamsWarn director Ian Williams when the Magadan resident arrived unannounced at the company's Auckland offices wanting to buy a brewing machine. While Israilov had emailed the company last month, Williams heard nothing more until the Russian turned up in Penrose... Read more

Business tool seeks out entrepreneurs. Booming immigration is good news for New Zealand's business world according to visiting entrepreneurial expert Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic. "There is a strong positive correlation between immigration and GDP, productivity, economic output and innovation. "The simple reason for that is ambitious, curious, creative, hungry, hardworking people go to where there are opportunities. It is a self-fulfilling thing," he said. While we tend to think we live in a globalised world, only 3 per cent of adults work outside the country they were born, Chamorro-Premuzic said. "New Zealand has had over 20 per cent immigrants for some time now. It is always good, always beneficial. The economic argument is very, very compelling." Chamorro-Premuzic is the founder of online profiling company Meta, which measures entrepreneurial talents and abilities.... Read more

Kiwis in Oz - harsh reality. New Zealanders living across the Tasman have been labelled "South Sea Poms" and "carping Kiwis" after a survey showed they are Australia's unhappiest migrants. Kiwis were the migrants most likely to be dissatisfied with their financial situation, were often discriminated against, didn't feel safe and were extremely unlikely to view Australians as nice people, a study by Melbourne's Monash University found.... Read more

Gender quotas for NZX-listed company's boards... Read more

Opinion - Bernard Hickey: How to kill two housing birds with one big stone of capital from China... Read more

Opinion - Brian Leyland: For a second time, a Queensland fruitfly has been found in Whangarei. If New Zealand allowed imported fruit to be irradiated, it would hugely reduce the risk of invasion by pests like this that can cause major agricultural damage... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Alistair Helm: Barfoot & Thompson – the powerhouse behind the Auckland property market... Read more

New Zealand Herald Editorial: Standing up to Japan vital in trade talks. TPP can't settle for second best like Australian deal... Read more

Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: The Australian sharemarket is expected to open higher after the Easter long weekend, when trading resumes tomorrow. AMP chief economist Shane Oliver is tipping a positive start on Tuesday, with a number of US firms posting good first quarter earnings and a fall in US jobless claims last week. But he says local investors will take their cues from US markets, which don't get a public holiday on Monday.... Read more

The Australian dollar is slightly higher, helped by some Chinese economic growth figures that didn’t disappoint the market. At 0700 AEST on Thursday, the local unit was trading at 93.71 US cents, up from 93.64 cents on Wednesday. Economic data out on Wednesday showed that China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 7.4 per cent in the year to March, higher than the market forecast of 7.3 per cent... Read more

Australian business conditions have bounced back in the March quarter, reaching their highest level in a year and a half. Business conditions stand at 0 for the March quarter, which is an improvement on the -2 reading recorded in the December quarter. However, NAB's quarterly business survey shows that, despite the improved conditions, business confidence has slipped slightly during the first three months of the year... Read more

Superannuation tax breaks described by Australia Institute as the Hindenburg of the federal budget. A left-leaning think tank says the federal budget would be more than $13 billion better off if the Government scrapped all tax breaks on superannuation and dramatically increased the age pension. The radical proposal is contained in a report by the Australia Institute, which will be released today, and comes amid increasing speculation the Coalition is preparing to increase the retirement age to 70. "There is nothing in the budget that's going to grow faster than the tax concessions for superannuation," said the report's author Richard Denniss.... Read more

Restart super fund review: Abetz... Read more

The number of households dipping into their savings is at a near 20-year high, which may be a sign of growing optimism about the economy. The proportion of households adding to their savings was down four per cent in the March quarter, according to the St George-Melbourne Institute Household Financial Conditions Index. The proportion of households drawing on their savings reached 15.6 per cent. "The proportion of households drawing on their savings in March reached levels we've never seen before in the near 20 years the survey has been running," St George retail banking general manager Andy Fell said... Read more

RBA stance draws Hockey's ire. A move from the Reserve Bank of Australia to shift the stance of monetary policy from an ‘easing bias’ to a more neutral viewpoint has upset the Abbott government amid fears it could undermine the budget, according to The Australian Financial Review. The central bank, which last year pushed the cash rate to a record low of 2.5 per cent, moved to a neutral position in February as the economy showed signs of improvement after months of worrying indicators cast doubt on the economy’s strength... Read more

NSW's new premier Mike Baird says he will not stay on as treasurer in the cabinet reshuffle. "I need to get on with the job with providing the leadership across the key policy areas in the key electorates across the state," Mr Baird told Macquarie Radio. "And that, certainly from my point of view, won't allow me to be treasurer."... Read more

Property investors on high alert as hot market attracts scammers... Read more

WA set to fall behind on homes. Despite Perth housing prices having fallen in the March quarter, anyone considering getting into the market might want to keep a close eye on prices. The National Australia Bank property report released last week headlined predictions of a humble 2.8 per cent in price growth in WA housing over the next 12 months... Read more

Federal MP Clive Palmer has strongly indicated his party won't support the Abbott government's climate change direct action plan, labelling it a "token gesture" and a waste of money. The Palmer United Party leader and mining magnate said the money allocated for the policy should be used for pensions, which could be under review in the May budget... Read more

Padbury 'funder' Roland Bleyer tells of big-shot deals and kidnapping. Padbury Mining's $6.4 billion man, former hair clinic operator Roland Bleyer, claims to have been in negotiations with the government of prime minister George Papandreou to lend Greece billions of euros during its debt crisis. He also claims to have played a key role at an Azerbaijani bank and had business meetings with Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated in a 2005 bombing, and ministers of the Syrian government. In addition, he claims to have been kidnapped while in London in 2000 and to have beaten two cocaine-related criminal charges in the US... Read more

BHP train drivers give up on wage hike... Read more

Linc Energy has launched an attack of Queensland public servants and the State Government accusing it of running an agenda against the company and not having the knowledge to understand the complex technology in its controversial gas project. Linc has operated a trial underground coal gasification project near Chinchilla that has been dogged by legal action from the State Government. It all came to a head last week when the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection brought charges against the company for causing serious environmental harm, an action managing director Peter Bond said was like issuing divorce papers on the company... Read more

Australia's largest ports operator, DP World, posted a larger bottom-line loss last year as it bolstered its defences before Hutchison Ports makes its presence felt at key ports on the east coast. The pressure will build on DP World and the other incumbent stevedore, Asciano's Patrick, as early as next month when a successful bidder for the third container terminal at the Port of Melbourne is expected to be announced. Hutchison is the leading contender among four bidders - including the Chris Corrigan-chaired Qube Holdings and a Macquarie-backed consortium - for the right to operate a new $1.2 billion container terminal... Read more

Mitsui will put its investment might into the WA grains industry as the centrepiece of an "aggressive and bold" move to become a major player in Australian agriculture. The Japanese giant revealed exclusively to WestBusiness that it' wants to treble its exports of Australian grain over the next five to six years. It is aiming for at least a 10 per cent share of Australian grain handling and export industry to supply the Japanese market and booming markets in China and South-East Asia... Read more

Crown Resorts is poised to enter the race for a $2 billion loss-making hotel and casino on the famous Las Vegas Strip. Industry sources believe Crown will lodge an expression of interest for The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a three-year-old casino complex owned by Deutsche Bank and next door to MGM Resorts International's Bellagio. Crown would not comment, but sources close to the process said it was expected to be among several interested parties looking at the property, which covers 3.5 hectares and includes almost 3000 hotel rooms. The deadline for expressions of interest is Tuesday. The potential bid marks a second push by Mr Packer to crack the US market, and is another signal that Crown is in expansion mode.... Read more

The head of electronics retailer Dick Smith says the company is continuing its turnaround, with stronger sales and earnings on the horizon, even though shareholders are yet to see any benefit. The company's share price has traded around or below its $2.20 list price for most of its first four months on the market, but chief executive Nick Abboud says the company's turnaround strategy is working... Read more

The publicly-listed Charter Hall Retail REIT is set to buy Coomera City Centre for $59.2 million. The company announced it had entered into an option to acquire the centre, developed by Lewani Springs Resort, an entity linked to Simon Lee. The transaction represented a year one yield of 7.4 per cent. Located about 20km north of the Gold Coast, Coomera City Centre is a 9431sq m neighbourhood shopping centre anchored by a strongly performing Woolworths supermarket and a Dan Murphy’s liquor store with 33 specialty retailers... Read more

Billionaire Harry Triguboff, born in a White Russian Jewish enclave in China, has spent 50 years building ­Australia's biggest unit company, ­Meriton Apartments. But now, aged 81, Australia's fourth-richest person is considering selling half of Meriton to Chinese interests in a deal that could net him at least $3 billion. It would be the ultimate sale of Australian apartments to ­Chinese investors. Triguboff told AFR Weekend he re­ceived an offer for his business on a trip to China two weeks ago from the owner of a property developer that builds 200,000 dwellings there annually... Read more

National Australia Bank continues to lag behind its major rivals when it comes to business customer satisfaction, despite a slight improvement. NAB, Australia's biggest business lender, had an average customer satisfaction rating of 7.0 out of 10 in March, which lagged behind ANZ, Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, which all scored 7.4. But according to the monthly DBM Consultants Business Financial Services Monitor (BFSM), NAB has improved its standing among small and medium sized business.... Read more

Four groups chase Queensland Motorways. Groups of investors from multiple continents are expected to submit rival bids topping $5 billion Tuesday for toll road operator Queensland Motorways, highlighting the appeal of infrastructure assets in a low-yield environment. A price above $5 billion would rank the privatisation of Queensland Motorways, which is owned by the Queensland government-backed Queensland Investment Corporation, among the biggest takeovers in Australia in recent years... Read more

'No conflict' as Agius sides with union. More than a decade after being interrogated by John Agius SC in the Cole Royal Commission, the construction union is forking out $7000 a day to have the esteemed lawyer on its side. Mr Agius will represent the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union in the upcoming royal commission into union corruption. The inquiry will investigate financial management, accountability failures and unlawful matters, such as slush funds, in unions around the country... Read more

Farmers in far north Queensland are adapting to tougher competition by introducing new crops, with one couple planning to open a chocolate factory supplied by their cocoa tree plantation. While bananas and cane still dominate the agricultural landscape, small niche crops are also thriving in the region. At a farm near Tully, north of Townsville, a grower has invested in rambutans and custard apples, while nearby at Mission Beach, a cocoa tree plantation has been established... Read more

Queensland’s largest furniture store business has begun to feel the effects of a pick-up in the housing market across the state. Super Amart chief operating officer Stephen Rorie said the pick-up wasn’t big, but it was occurring. “It’s still for us in the furniture industry quite a tough market. Having said that, we are seeing some early signs or some green shoots particularly in South East Queensland,” he said... Read more

Tigerair’s cut-price pounce to fire up airfare wars (again) in Queensland... Read more

$20 movie tickets the price of Australian wages says Village Roadshow... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Regan Pearson: Why Newcrest Mining Limited shares could jump on Wednesday... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Michael West: Mystery surrounds Energy World Corporation's coup in Jamaica... Read more

Opinion - Ross Gittins: Greed is the market's forgotten vice... Read more

Analysis - Regan Pearson: You’re not too late to buy these winning growth companies!... Read more

International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: Stocks drifted higher Monday afternoon as U.S. investors got back into action after the long holiday weekend. It will be a week full corporate earnings reports, including well known brands like Netflix, McDonald's and Facebook. The Dow Jones industrial average, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were all modestly higher at midday. Trading volume was anemic with many professional money managers taking the day off... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets are mixed today. The Bovespa is up 1.78% while the S&P 500 gains 0.32%. The IPC is off 0.27%.... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished higher on Thursday with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX is up 0.99% while London's FTSE 100 is up 0.62% and France's CAC 40 is up 0.59%.... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Hang Seng gained 0.28%, while the Shanghai Composite led the Nikkei 225 lower. They fell 1.52% and 0.03% respectively.... Read more

Oil prices were down in subdued post-holiday Asian trade, but retained support from the escalating Ukraine crisis following a deadly gunfight over the weekend. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for May delivery, dipped 22 cents to $US104.08 in mid-morning trade on Monday and Brent North Sea crude for June eased 44 cents to $US109.09 a barrel. Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore, said trading volumes are thin in Asian trade after the long Easter weekend... Read more

Hedge funds lowered bullish bets on gold for a fourth week, the longest streak this year. The net-long position contracted to the lowest since mid-February as speculators sold bullion on signs of accelerating U.S. economic growth. The investors more than doubled bets on lower prices in the past month while reducing wagers on a rally in six of the past seven weeks. Prices fell 7.6 percent since reaching a six-month high in March after tension in Ukraine eased and U.S. equities rallied to a record.... Read more

Property-tax collections are rising at the fastest pace since the U.S. housing market crash sent government revenue plunging, helping end an era of local budget cuts. In cities including San Jose, California, Nashville, Tennessee, Houston and Washington, revenue from real-estate levies has set records, or is poised to... Read more

On the heels of a choppy first quarter, federally controlled mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have cut their forecasts for the U.S. housing market’s performance in 2014. Doug Duncan, Fannie’s FNMA chief economist, said Monday that he now expects builders to start construction on 1.05 million housing units this year, down 50,000 from Fannie’s forecast earlier this year. He cited constraints on credit and labor. “We have downgraded our housing forecast slightly due to a lackluster sales picture, but the recent loss of momentum is likely a temporary one,” Duncan said... Read more

$100,000 income: Three very different tax bills. There are a lot of differences between Queens, Topeka and Seattle. One that stands out: People making the same money in each of those places can face very different tax bills... Read more

The Google Android platform grabbed the majority of mobile phones in the US market in early 2014, as consumers all but abandoned non-smartphone handsets, a survey showed Friday. The poll by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners found 53 percent of new mobile phones activated by US customers were Android devices in the January-March period. Apple's iOS, the platform used by the iPhone, accounted for 42 percent, the survey found... Read more

AT&T to expand fast web service in race against Google... Read more

Ford Motor Co., the second-largest U.S. automaker, will soon name Mark Fields its next chief executive officer and reveal when current CEO Alan Mulally will retire from the company he is credited with saving, according to two people familiar with the pending announcement. Mulally, 68, will step down before the end of the year and be succeeded by Fields, 53, now chief operating officer, according to the people, who asked not to be identified revealing internal plans. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company may announce the moves as soon as May 1, the people said. The transition will bring an end to a storied chapter in Ford’s history, in which the automaker narrowly avoided bankruptcy thanks to Mulally’s management and a bet-the-business $23 billion loan. ... Read more

Merrill sets new $8 million bragging target for its top brokers... Read more

US oil exploration firm Halliburton has reported better-than-expected first quarter profits, helped by robust drilling activity in Russia, Saudi Arabia and Angola. The world's second-largest oil company said net income for the three months to the end of March was $622m (£370m). That compared with a loss of $18m in the same quarter a year earlier. Those losses included a pre-tax charge of $1bn for Halliburton's part in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill... Read more

Nokia sees Microsoft deal closing this week... Read more

Kraft recalls 96,000lb of hot dogs over wrong labels... Read more

Hasbro Inc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit on strong demand for toys such as My Little Pony, that have strong tie-ins with TV shows aimed at little girls. Sales of toys aimed at girls grew 21 percent in the first quarter, while toys for boys rose just 2 percent, although the company's boys lines will likely be boosted by the upcoming release of Transformer and Spider-Man movies. Hasbro's shares rose as much as 4.2 percent to touch an all-time high of $56.91 in early trading on Monday... Read more

Scottish independence: Glasgow and Aberdeen universities leave CBI... Read more

UK shops' Easter weekend footfall down 1.9% on 2013. Drop in shopper numbers underscore fragility of consumer confidence in recovery, says retail data company Springboard... Read more

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Friday hailed a "structural revolution" after his cabinet approved a round of tax and spending cuts including a limit of five chauffeured cars per government ministry. The draft bill would also ease income tax for some 10 million people who earn between 8,000 and 26,000 euros a year, reduce the amount of government office space and force local authorities to publish all expenses online. "This is for a simpler Italy," Renzi told reporters.... Read more

Russian MinFin expecting 7.2%-7.3% inflation in annual terms in April... Read more

Russia writes off 90 per cent of North Korean debt, expected to build gas pipeline... Read more

Russia could tip into recession in the second quarter of 2014 after the economy contracted by around 0.5 per cent in the first three months of the year, a finance ministry official says. "It looks like the second quarter compared with the previous quarter will again have a negative value. In this way, the finance ministry does not rule out a technical recession," the Interfax news agency quoted Maxim Oreshkin as saying. Oreshkin, who heads the finance ministry's department for long-term strategy, made the prediction in comments to journalists... Read more

Russian companies, facing $115 billion of debt due over the next 12 months, will have the funds even as bond markets shut because of the Ukraine crisis, according to Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings. Firms will have about $100 billion in cash and earnings at their disposal during the next 18 months, Moody’s said in an analysis of 47 businesses April 11. Almost all 55 companies examined by Fitch are “well placed” to withstand a closed refinancing market for the rest of 2014, it said in a note on April 16. Banks have more than $20 billion in foreign currency to lend as the tensions prompted customers to convert their ruble savings, ZAO Raiffeisenbank said... Read more

Nevermind the Ukraine crisis and Washington's sanctions against Moscow: US automakers say the Russian market is their next big frontier. Russia is simply too large and too important for carmakers to ignore, experts said this week. "The Russian market is going to be larger than Germany," said John Branch, a professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. Branch said the structure of the Russian auto industry is in flux as the demand for imports increases despite barriers imposed by the Russian government... Read more

Largest oil field in 20 years discovered in Russia... Read more

Rise in foreign direct investment in China. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China increased 5.5 per cent in the first three months of the year despite faltering in March, the government says, though outbound investment slumped. FDI, which excludes investment in financial sectors, totalled $US31.55 billion ($A33.78 billion) in the March quarter, the commerce ministry said in a statement. However, investment in March declined 1.47 per cent to $US12.24 billion, it said. "Major Asian countries' and regions' investment in China generally maintained a steady growth momentum," ministry spokesman Shen Danyang said on Thursday.... Read more

Remy Cointreau blames profit fall on China sales fall... Read more

Shares of Sina Weibo, China's answer to Twitter, jumped more than 25 per cent in initial trade, after a disappointing initial public offering on the US Nasdaq exchange. The offering on Wednesday was undersubscribed as Weibo's parent, the Chinese Internet giant Sina Corp, ran into a market jittery over both tech and Chinese company shares. Weibo sought to raise as much as $US380 million by selling 20 million shares for as much as $19 each, but only saw demand through underwriters for 16.8 million shares at the low end of the offer, $17. That only brought the company $287 million.... Read more

China has begun allowing gold imports through its capital Beijing, sources familiar with the matter said, in a move that would help keep purchases by the world's top bullion buyer discreet at a time when it might be boosting official reserves. The opening of a third import point after Shenzhen and Shanghai could also threaten Hong Kong's pole position in China's gold trade, as the mainland can get more of the metal it wants directly rather than through a route that discloses how much it is buying... Read more

Japan's trade deficit quadruples in March... Read more

Why is it Tough to Catch Insider Trading in India?... Read more

Opinion - Matthew C Klein: Morgan Stanley's Bond-Market Magic... Read more

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