ASB Securities Morning Brief for Monday, 23 February 2015
Monday, 23 February 2015

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand shares rose paced by Xero and Diligent Board Member Services, as investors favoured technology-based stocks. Auckland International Airport slipped after reporting first-half profit growth of 1.3 percent. The NZX 50 Index rose 22.723 points, or 0.4 percent, to 5748.948. Within the index, 23 stocks rose, 14 fell and 13 were unchanged. Turnover was $177 million... Read more

The New Zealand dollar is heading for a 1 percent weekly gain against the greenback as recent data and upbeat dairy auctions paint a strong picture of the local economy, and after minutes to the last Federal Reserve policy meeting raised questions about when the US central bank will hike interest rates. The kiwi rose to 75.29 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 74.52 cents on Friday in New York last week. It was little changed from 75.19 US cents at 8am, and down from 75.64 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index fell to 78.12 from 78.36 yesterday, and is heading for a 1.2 percent weekly gain from 77.16 last week... Read more

Weekly rents were up 9% in January compared to the year before, the Trade Me Property Rental Price Index shows. The national median rent rose to $420 per week... Read more

The average weekly rent in Auckland over the past five years has increased less than the price of petrol, and increased only marginally more than a glass of beer or a visit to the doctor... Read more

Surge in KiwiSaver withdrawals for first home-buyers... Read more

ACT wants referendum on Super... Read more

The Taxpayers’ Union is backing ACT leader David Seymour’s call for a referendum on New Zealand’s growing superannuation burden... Read more

Saver tactics worry watchdog. As the battle heats up for the KiwiSaver dollar, authorities are taking a closer look at the tactics being used to tempt investors.... Read more

Questions asked over $200m Super Fund write-off... Read more

Sustainable salmon farming subject of $5.2 million research project. New Zealand government, research and commercial groups are aligning with international salmon experts to make salmon farming here even more sustainable... Read more

A dairy farming leader has called on banks to take a more holistic approach in their lending decisions to people looking at buying farms... Read more

The drought is forcing managers to look at culling about 14 per cent of the cow herd at Lincoln University Dairy Farm, which could cut into operating profits by 25 per cent. Milk production falling by 5 to 10 per cent from the smaller herd would reduce the demonstration farm's earnings by about a quarter, before interest and tax are removed, under a $4.70 dairy payout... Read more

Offshore money in search of a good home. Investors seeking global diversification for their property portfolios are increasingly seeing New Zealand as an attractive investment option. ... Read more

New Zealand's natural products industry has announced the sector now contributes an estimated $1.4 billion per year to the economy. The figures add up to a rise of 40 per cent over the past five years... Read more

Cavalier first-half earnings plunge 99%, sees pick-up in second half... Read more

Sanitarium lifts revenue to $191m... Read more

Leading Japanese food company Itoham Foods Inc will increase its stake in ANZCO Foods Limited from 48.3 percent to 65 percent if its purchase offer is accepted by other leading shareholders and is approved by the Overseas Investment Office... Read more

Multinational goldminer OceanaGold Corporation has recovered from a huge loss to make a record profit of more than US$100 million (NZ$1.33m) in its latest year... Read more

New Zealand jetpack maker Martin Aircraft Company will become a publicly traded firm when it lists on the Australian stock exchange tomorrow.... Read more

Kiwi energy company Powershop is expanding its Australian market before targeting Europe and Asia next year. Powershop chief executive Ari Sargent said the company was working through the final details and would launch in New South Wales in the next few months... Read more

Heinz Watties has stopped taking New Zealand-grown asparagus for canning in favour of cheaper Peruvian product. The decision affects up to 15 growers in Hawke's Bay and several in the Rangitikei. Growers elsewhere sell all their asparagus fresh on the domestic market or to Japan... Read more

Farmers and horticulturists interested in accessing an alternate power source will be able to trial an innovative new wind energy harvesting technology for free according to PacificWind vice president Reza Sehdehi... Read more

A High Court judge has thrown out a bid to usurp a Jamie Peters-linked company's rights over a property. ... Read more

New Zealand's biggest off-site housing manufacturer, which owes creditors $17.5 million, received a $287,500 Government grant before Prime Minister John Key opened its Kumeu factory... Read more

Luigi Wewege, a central figure in the Len Brown infidelity scandal, has re-emerged in Ireland. The Irish Times reports the South African is taking defamation action against broadcaster RTE over allegations made about Vivier Mortgages on its Prime News programme... Read more

Law firm records sought on Crafar bidder facing bribery charges. Authorities managing the bankruptcy estate of a businesswoman facing bribery charges in Hong Kong have gone to the High Court to get access to records held by a downtown Auckland law firm.... Read more

Opinion - Bernard Hickey: 10-year loan fast eclipsed... Read more

Opinion - Brian Fallow: Government reaps what it sows. Forest planting is falling. Blame the people who keep changing the rules... Read more

New Zealand Herald Editorial: Plug the gap between EQC, private cover... Read more





Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: The Australian sharemarket closed softer as investors responded coolly to Telstra boss David Thodey’s flagged departure, while awaiting a resolution to Greek debt talks in Europe. At the 4.15pm (AEDT) official market close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 22.7 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 5881.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index was down 24.2 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 5845.6.... Read more

The Australian dollar is struggling to make any headway as worries about Greece and falling commodity prices put downward pressure on the currency. At 4.02pm (AEDT), the local unit was trading flat at US78.09 cents, slightly down from US78.10 cents yesterday... Read more

Economy-wide spending has slowed to a crawl but cheap petrol and the recent interest rate cut should hopefully turn that around. Spending rose just 0.2 per cent in January, marking the slowest spending growth since 2012, figures from the Commonwealth Bank on Monday show... Read more

HIA urges housing market reforms. The release of Treasurer Joe Hockey's intergenerational report will provide the golden opportunity to put housing supply reforms on the agenda. In its latest national outlook, the Housing Industry Association says such reforms would be integral component of any broader economic reforms.... Read more

WA's economy will have to rely on shoppers opening their wallets as the housing sector comes off the boil. Housing Industry Association and Commonwealth Bank reports show how important everyday shoppers will be to the State economy over coming months... Read more

Thousands of workers underpaid, denied entitlements by Australian employers figures show... Read more

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison says a report that the Abbott government considered kicking millionaires off the aged pension is a "beat-up"... Read more

The market's perception of corporate Australia is that it is in reasonably rude health, with the ASX200 rising a solid 4 per cent over the past three weeks and scaling heights not seen since May 2008. With the December half profit-reporting season 60 per cent complete, AMP Capital's latest scorecard has distilled some positive trends among listed companies... Read more

Oil and gas producer Santos has tumbled to a full-year $935 million loss with a massive writedown in assets taking its toll. The result is a $1.4 billion reversal on last year's $516 million profit... Read more

Oil and gas producer Santos will cut jobs, freeze executive salaries and put assets up for sale after suffering a $935 million annual loss... Read more

Bounty Oil and Gas closer to Tanzania gas revenue... Read more

Norwest Energy has been granted a trading halt by the ASX, with tis shares placed in pre-open... Read more

Struggling mining contractor Macmahon Holdings has been delivered a body blow by the loss of $780 million worth of work at a Fortescue Metals Group mine... Read more

Medibank Private promises to lean hard on hospital providers. The newly privatised Medibank Private has started flexing its muscles, leaning on hospital providers to lower their charges in a tough market for insurers... Read more

Agribusiness Ruralco says trading in the first four months of its fiscal year has been solid despite dry conditions. Ruralco says sales from October to January were higher despite weather conditions constraining demand for products needed for spring and summer cropping... Read more

In a turnaround for Australia's cattle industry, more than 300,000 head of cattle will soon be exported as boxed beef from a new $100 million facility opened in the Northern Territory... Read more

Seven shows a brave face in spite of ugly numbers. Seven West Media has boasted its businesses are “still winning in the spaces where they compete”, despite posting a $952.7 million half year loss and weaker advertising revenues... Read more

Building products maker James Hardie has lifted profit and expects a continued recovery in the Australian and US housing markets to drive further growth... Read more

Nikko Asset Management managing director for Australia Mike Davis has resigned.... Read more

Aged care provider Regis Healthcare has increased its full year earnings guidance after reporting a first-half net profit in line with its full-year prospectus forecast... Read more

Auditors of the Bryan Byrt group resigned after discovering “irregularities” just before the car dealership collapsed. Their concerns about Bryan Byrt, which traded vehicles ranging from Fords to Volkswagens at seven southeast Queensland sites, were serious enough that the auditors felt legally obliged to contact the corporate watchdog.... Read more

Calls are growing for a royal commission into the entire financial planning industry as a new leaked document reveals National Australia Bank identified five key areas within its wealth advisory activities for further investigation... Read more

The National Australia Bank has confirmed it has paid millions of dollars in compensation to more than 700 customers who received bad financial advice. Since 2009 more than 750 customers have been compensated, with the NAB paying between $10 million and $15 million in total... Read more

Patties Foods says there's still no firm link between a national hepatitis A outbreak and its recalled berries.... Read more

Opinion: Des Houghton: Gold Coast cruise ship terminal essential to Queensland tourism industry... Read more

Opinion - David Swan: The collaborative consumption freight train... Read more





International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: After tight trading, volatility set to return to stocks. After a holiday-shortened trading week that pinned stocks in a tight trading range, equities are poised for a bout of renewed volatility as investors watch the economy and the Federal Reserve for signs of policy changes and economic strength... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets finished broadly higher on Friday with shares in Brazil leading the region. The Bovespa is up 3.76% while Mexico's IPC is up 0.74% and U.S.'s S&P 500 is up 0.61%.... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The DAX gained 0.44% and the FTSE 100 rose 0.38%. The CAC 40 lost 0.05%... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished higher on Friday with shares in China leading the region. The Shanghai Composite is up 0.76% while Japan's Nikkei 225 is up 0.37% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng is up 0.19%.... Read more

New York oil prices have fallen in late trade, with the WTI contract breaking away from a stable trade in London to fall near the $US50 dollar line. West Texas Intermediate for March delivery settled at the official close on Friday at $US50.32 a barrel, down 82 US cents from Thursday, as the contract expired. WTI then continued to fall further in late trade, dropping below $US50. In London, Brent crude for April delivery was flat at $US60.22 a barrel, one US cent higher from a day earlier... Read more

Lead U.S. oil company negotiator Shell Oil Co said face-to-face negotiations on Friday with the United Steelworkers union (USW) failed to yield an agreement to end the 20-day-old U.S. refinery strike... Read more

U.S. refinery strike widens to include nation's largest plant... Read more

Greece's struggles with its euro zone creditors may have grabbed much of the world's attention, but U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is likely to reclaim the spotlight this week with testimony on a long-anticipated shift in policy... Read more

Three things Yellen could say to surprise investors... Read more

U.S. West Coast ports will resume full operations from Saturday evening after a tentative labor deal was reached between a dockworkers union and a group of shippers, easing months of disruptions to trans-Pacific trade that have hit businesses from automakers to meat exports... Read more

Stock valuations climb as retail earnings wraps earnings season... Read more

Wal-Mart’s pay hike meets a skeptical Wall Street. Main Street is applauding Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s plan to raise hourly wages for many employees. Wall Street is more skeptical. Eight analysts tracked by FactSet lowered their price targets after Wal-Mart, detailed its plan, which it says will cost the company $1 billion this year... Read more

FTC Flexes Its Muscles With Sysco/US Foods, Spooking Investors in Other Deals... Read more

Uber, Lyft Face Lawsuits That Could Alter Sharing Economy... Read more

Sports Authority is the latest retailer to find itself at risk of running out of cash. Credit rating analyst Moody's has cut its rating on Sports Authority's debt deeper into junk bond status and warned the chain could be less than a year away from defaulting on a $300 million loan... Read more

CN Railway urges union to agree to arbitration as lockout looms... Read more

Eurozone business activity hit a seven-month high in February, extending gains despite concerns over the Greek debt crisis as the economy recovers from a soft patch, a key survey shows... Read more

Greek Bonds May Lead Periphery Higher After Funding Deal Struck... Read more

Tsipras declares victory as Greece dodges financial ruin... Read more

Greece will crack down on tax evasion and streamline its civil service in its bid to secure a bailout extension, minister of state Nikos Pappas says. The government is working on a package of reforms that it must submit to international creditors on Monday... Read more

HSBC left itself open to criminal charges in the UK over its Swiss tax-dodging scandal, ex-director of public prosecutions Lord Ken Macdonald says. The QC said there were strong grounds to investigate the bank for "cheating" HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)... Read more

The pound reached a seven-year high versus the euro this week after jobs data signaled the U.K. recovery is holding up and as stalled negotiations on the future funding of Greece weighed on the common currency... Read more

Ireland said a second major cigarette manufacturer, Imperial Tobacco Group , has threatened legal action against the government over plans for a law requiring them to sell cigarettes in plain packets. Ireland said in 2013 it wanted to become the first country in the European Union to ban branding on cigarette packages and reiterated its plans this week after the legislation prompted a threat of legal action from Japan Tobacco International... Read more

Qatar Airways has emerged as the owner of a 10% stake in International Airlines Group (IAG), the owner of British Airways (BA) and Iberia. The Gulf airline is already a member of the Oneworld alliance. Willie Walsh, IAG's chief executive, said he was delighted Qatar had become a "long-term supportive shareholder"... Read more

U.S., Europe discuss further Russian sanctions over Ukraine... Read more

Moody's has cut Russia's debt rating by one notch into "junk" territory, saying the Ukraine crisis and the fall in oil prices and the ruble will further undermine Russia's economy... Read more

A Brazilian prosecutor sought to block a possible government leniency deal with construction and engineering companies implicated in a giant bribery and money laundering scheme at state-run oil company Petrobras, according to a document published Saturday on a Brazilian news site... Read more

West Coast port dispute costing Honda 25,000 vehicles... Read more

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