ASB Securities Morning Brief for Wednesday, 23 April 2014
Wednesday, 23 April 2014

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand stocks rose as Genesis Energy held its gains on the second day of trading, lifting sentiment for fellow government-controlled energy companies, MightyRiverPower and Meridian Energy. Xero led gainers. The NZX 50 Index rose 1.591 points, or 0.03 percent, to 5104.939. Within the index, 15 stocks rose, 26 fell and nine were unchanged. Turnover was $108 million... Read more

The New Zealand dollar edged up as local trading resumed after the Easter holiday, with investors eyeing Thursday's monetary policy review when interest rates are expected to be hiked for a second time in as many months. The kiwi increased to 85.79 US cents at 5pm in Wellington from 85.59 cents at 8am and 85.65 cents in Asian trading yesterday. The trade-weighted index was little changed at 79.76 from 79.85 yesterday... Read more

Falling dairy prices, high kiwi and milder inflation may temper RBNZ's OCR track... Read more

Support high for interest rate hike. There is high support for the official cash rate to rise to 3 per cent, according to the NZIER Shadow Board, with other economists rejecting suggestions that higher rates will burst a property "bubble". The Reserve Bank moved the OCR up to 2.75 per cent last month and is widely expected to follow up with another jump to 3 per cent tomorrow, with more to follow. "Support for an interest rate hike to 3 per cent . . . is very high," NZIER senior economist Kirdan Lees said.... Read more

Forbes 'bubble-ologist' jabs back at Steven Joyce. NZ may or might or might not be in a bubble, but it's certainly in a slanging match. Forbes contributor Jesse Colombo has hit back at criticism by Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce over Easter. The economic analyst contends NZ is in a housing and credit bubble which, when it bursts, will take down our whole economy. In a new Forbes post, he says official denials, such as that issued by Mr Joyce over the holiday weekend, are all part of the bubble he's come to expect (a theory that does rather damn the Economics Development Minister either way; Mr Joyce has to agree NZ is in a bubble, or conform to the alleged dupe stereotype of denying the obvious)... Read more

Retailers had an extra sweet Easter this year in the capital, with spending up by more than $2 million from the holiday weekend last year Electronic transaction provider Paymark reported that spending in Wellington increased this year by 3.5 per cent, bringing the value of electronic transactions from Thursday to Easter Monday this year to $60.6 million. Nationwide, the value of electronic spending was 5.5 per cent higher at $644.3m.... Read more

ANZ increases low equity fixed interest rate threshold from an 80% loan-to-value ratio to 90%... Read more

Strong leasing demand for industrial premises is responsible for the overall vacancy level within Auckland's main precincts falling from 5.5 per cent to 3.8 per cent, says Bayleys Research. Their industrial occupancy survey covers Penrose, Mt Wellington, the airport area, East Tamaki, Wiri and the Rosebank Rd industrial precinct in West Auckland... Read more

Home loan affordability worsens by most in 12 years as interest rates and house prices rise... Read more

ASB has issued $400 million worth of subordinated, unsecured debt securities that'll pay investors annual interest of 6.65% for five years. The $400 million is the upper end of what the bank was seeking to borrow, with the offer touted as being for $300 million worth of $1 debt securities plus up to $100 million of oversubscriptions... Read more

Shares in Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest publicly listed retailer, rose to a six-week high after the stock was upgraded to 'buy' at brokerage Craigs Investment Partners. Warehouse jumped 1.8 percent to $3.32, its highest since March 10. That's a discount to the stock's 12-month price target of $3.64, Craigs analyst Chris Byrne said in an April 17 note where he upgraded his recommendation from 'hold'... Read more

Small investors who put money into all three government power company floats are up about 8 per cent overall, with the gains in Genesis offsetting the pain from Mighty River Power. But some investors are upset that the richest float, Genesis, has seen the Government provide the meanest offer of share parcels, with heavy scaling back on what some investors wanted. Investors have done well out of the Genesis Energy partial float so far, but future performance may depend on the result of this year's general election... Read more

Property values of NZX-listed company Augusta Capital dropped by $2.2 million, or 2.2 per cent, in the past financial year. Augusta Capital said today that the devaluation was largely caused by Brookfields Lawyers vacating four floors of Brookfields House at 19 Victoria Street West, Auckland, with an early-surrender payment of $640,000 received early last month. "This released 2500 square metres and led to a valuation reduction of $1.9m," the company said in an update to the NZX... Read more

Cooks Global Foods, the New Zealand franchisor of the Esquires cafe chain in markets outside Australasia, is poised for North American expansion after completing its purchase of the Canadian rights for the coffee brand. The latest acquisition follows the NZAX-listed company's buy-out of the global master franchising rights for Esquires, excluding New Zealand, Australia and Canada, last year... Read more

OceanaGold has suspended production at its open pit mine at the Macraes Goldfield north of Dunedin in New Zealand after heavy rain caused a section of the west wall to fail. The wall had been continuously monitored and no one was working in the open pit at the time of the incident on April 19, OceanaGold said on Tuesday. OceanaGold shares dropped one cent to $2.34.... Read more

Strong demand for outsourced compliance: Austin. Advisers would find a system of auditing each other for AML/CFT compliance doesn’t pay off, says the head of one compliance company.... Read more

Air NZ, Singapore Airlines codeshare gets Singapore regulator tick... Read more

Philippines low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific is eyeing New Zealand as a possible destination following a new air service agreement between the two countries. According to reports out of Manila, Cebu is so far the only carrier to register interest in the route. Its application will be heard next month. Under the agreement reached last month, 21 flights will be permitted between the two countries, up from three at present... Read more

Auckland, Southern Councils join on Earthquake Prone Buildings. Auckland and Southern Councils have come together in response to proposed Government changes to earthquake Building rules. Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have written to the Local Government and Environment Select Committee considering the Building (Earthquake-Prone Buildings) Amendment Bill to express their concerns with the proposals. “We have identified some common issues which we believe need serious consideration by the select committee,” says Len Brown. “It is clear that further work is needed and we encourage select committee members to act on these submissions before the Bill is passed into law.”... Read more

The British High Commission is offering to take officials from Christchurch on a "study tour" of infrastructure projects in Britain. British High Commissioner to New Zealand Vicki Treadell said she could not provide details of the proposal yet. It was still being worked on. "The UK is very keen to share knowledge and one of the things we are looking at developing is a study tour with relevant officials who will look at a range of UK projects and engage with a range of experts in terms of project management and delivery."... Read more

Architect's blueprint for Christchurch precincts crumples. Several properties in central Christchurch will return to the control of owners after being designated for the past couple of years for purchase by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. This may prove a catalyst for the private sector to accelerate developments – as it has in peripheral streets around the central business district outside CERA control... Read more

Offices take prime place. Leasing has started for a four-storey office building to be constructed in Albany by NZX-listed DNZ Property Fund, a commercial investor and property developer with $850 million of commercial property portfolio under management in New Zealand. The building site is at 39 Corinthian Drive in a prominent position overlooking State Highway 1 between the motorway and Albany expressway. Office space is offered in flexible floor areas of 1000sq m floor plates, an overall area of 3700sq m... Read more

The Council of Trade Unions (CTU) is seeking prosecutions against two forestry companies after two workers were killed last year. Work Safe New Zealand has the first right to prosecute for workplace deaths, and once they have started legal action no one else can. CTU president Helen Kelly said Work Safe has pursued very few prosecutions after deaths in the forestry industry. "The government is very reluctant to use their legal powers. "If they're not going to, we will. It's very important for these two families and for these two men.'' Thirty-two people have been killed in the forestry industry since 2008.... Read more

Eighteen complaints were made about businesses flouting Easter Weekend trading laws this year, but none will be prosecuted. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE), the Government department responsible for administering the legislation, said the number of complaints was down from 46 last year. As none of had received warnings or been prosecuted previously, none would be prosecuted for their defiance... Read more

Scrap over $109k food bill. The parent company of a firm that sold controversial currency trading software racked up a $109,000 debt for food and drink at a flash Auckland restaurant it part-owned before the venue shut down, according to a liquidators' report. Restaurant Ltd, now in liquidation, operated the Brownstone Restaurant and Cocktail Lounge in Ponsonby Rd. The restaurant was previously known as Nostalgia and before that Prohibition. It opened in August 2008 after an 18-month refurbishment costing $2.9 million... Read more

Shane Jones says he is quitting Labour, and politics. According to a TV3 report, the frontbencher is set to become Pacific Economic Ambassador - a role reportedly created for him by National. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully is said to be behind the pending ambassadorial appointment. The list MP will reportedly step down immediately.... Read more

Opinion - Roger J Kerr: RBNZ has chance to adjust the message. Whether the RBNZ choses to deliver some subtle new messages about recent changes in NZ economic conditions with this Thursday’s OCR increase to 3% or whether they “stay on message” with their pre-set March MPS plan will tell us something about how close they are to the real economy... Read more

Opinion - Bernard Hickey: Bernard Hickey gives 6 reasons why Jesse Colombo's warning in Forbes about New Zealand's housing bubble bursting disastrously is over-blown... Read more

Opinion - Chalkie: Deal creating $55m seems magical... Read more

Opinion - Liam Dann: Government's selldown - marks out of 10... Read more





Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: It was good news for the big banks but a tougher day for the miners in what was a generally positive result for the Australian share market on Thursday. The All Ordinaries index ended the day 0.4 per cent higher at 5,467, while the ASX 200 increased 0.5 per cent to close at 5,479 points.... Read more

The Australian dollar is higher amid market expectations of firm inflation figures for the March quarter. At 1700 AEST on Tuesday, the local currency was trading at 93.67 US cents, up from 93.57 US cents on Thursday before the Easter long weekend. The Australian dollar climbed throughout the day from a low of 93.22 US cents to an intra-day high of 93.72 US cents... Read more

The Australian bond market is in a holding pattern ahead of the release of all important March quarter inflation figures and Chinese manufacturing data. The market was slightly weaker on Tuesday following stronger data in the US last week before the Easter break, ANZ head of interest rate research Tony Morriss said. "We've been pretty quiet today because of the Easter holiday and the proximity to the consumer price index numbers tomorrow," Mr Morriss said... Read more

Inflation is expected have risen above the Reserve Bank of Australia's two to three per cent target range in the first months of 2014 but that alone won't spark an interest rate rise. The consumer price index (CPI), the key measure of inflation, is forecast to have risen by 0.8 per cent in the March quarter, for an annual rate of 3.2 per cent, an AAP survey of 12 economists shows. The Australian Bureau of Statistics will release the inflation figures on Wednesday.... Read more

JP Morgan research suggests Reserve Bank should look closely at credit growth when assessing interest rates. Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens should devote more time to assess the pace of credit growth rather than the rapid spike in house prices, in judging when to raise interest rates, new research suggests. The author of the research, JP Morgan’s Ben Jarman, said while there will be mounting pressure for a rate rise to put a ceiling on house prices, the temptation should be ignored. Australian borrowing rates are at a 54-year-low of 2.5 per cent with the next move expected to be upwards as the economy regains its footing... Read more

Federal MP Clive Palmer says he is willing to vote against budget bills to block the Federal Government's Direct Action climate change policy. However, Labor says it will not support him, ruling out the possibility of it triggering a double dissolution election. The Palmer United Party leader says Direct Action, which includes a $3 billion fund to pay polluters to voluntarily reduce their emissions, is a "token gesture", and the funds would be better spent on the age pension.... Read more

Government's frustration on RBA stance 'risks central bank's independence'. The Abbott government risks undermining the integrity of the Reserve Bank of Australia in conveying its frustration with the RBA's shift to a neutral policy stance that has fuelled a higher value Australian dollar and made charting a course for fiscal policy more difficult. The government has become uncomfortable with the Australian dollar's upward move since the RBA dropped its explicit easing bias, paving the way for the currency to rise on the expectation that the central bank's next move will be up. The Australian Financial Review reported on Tuesday that Treasurer Joe Hockey's displeasure was made known to the RBA directly... Read more

Superannuation funds have had a lacklustre start to 2014, but are still up on average more than ten per cent for the financial year so far. Research by investment group Chant West shows the average growth superannuation fund rose one per cent during the three months to March, due to a relatively subdued performance on the Australian and international share markets. But given the strong gains on share markets in late 2013, the average growth fund is up 10.5 per cent so far this financial year, while the average balanced fund is up 7.9 per cent... Read more

Buying a home is too expensive say renters. Australia's booming property market is forcing many would-be buyers to delay or even give up on their home ownership dreams. A survey of renters across Australia has found more than half believe they cannot afford a deposit, while nearly a third believe they can't afford mortgage payments... Read more

Uranium miner Paladin Energy's revenue has fallen as the price of the nuclear energy source continues to decline. The company's sales revenue of $US88.56 million in the three months to March 31 was down from $US106 million in the same period a year earlier. Its average sales price in the March quarter was $US36.82 per pound, down from $US38.40 in the first six months of the 2013/14 financial year, and $US55.22 in same quarter a year earlier. The company's shares added half a cent to 45.5 cents.... Read more

Mysterious Roland Bleyer claims Fortescue Metals link... Read more

Shares in Bullabulling Gold have jumped sharply this morning after Friday's cash takeover offer from Norton Gold Fields. Norton's seven cents a share offer values Bullabulling at $24 million. However Bullabulling has already poured scorn on Norton's offer insisting it did not adequately reflect the value of the company or its project and did not justify a change of control. Bullabulling shares closed up 1.4 cents, or 25.93 per cent, at 6.8 cents while Norton shares were steady at 11 cents.... Read more

Oil Search says its key PNG liquefied natural gas (LNG) project will deliver its first cargo a few months ahead of schedule. Deliveries from the project are now expected to start mid-2014, rather than during the third quarter of the year as previously forecast. "First LNG sales, which are expected to commence in the next few months, ahead of schedule and within the revised budget, will herald the commencement of a steady, long-term, cash flow stream for Oil Search," managing director Peter Botten said in a statement. Oil Search shares gained two cents to $8.66.... Read more

Westfield a riskier company under restructure plan: S&P. One of the world's major ratings agencies says Westfield's planned restructure will make it a riskier investment. Standard & Poor's says it is likely to lower the shopping centre developer's credit ratings by one notch if a restructuring proposal is voted up by shareholders on May 29. Westfield plans to merge the group's Australian and New Zealand property assets with Westfield Retail Trust to form Scentre Group... Read more

Non-bank lender Pepper has raised $500 million through issuing non-conforming residential mortgage-backed securities, the largest issue of this kind completed since the global financial crisis. Pepper said it received strong investor support for the raising, issuing the notes in several tranches that were all priced at par. Pepper Group treasurer Todd Lawler noted repeat buying from offshore investors, with 14 local and 7 foreign investors across the US and Europe participating in the raising... Read more

The new owner of Inghams poultry is selling off real estate in a deal that could reap over $600 million. American private equity firm TPG bought Inghams last year for $880 million. It wants to sell properties in Australia and New Zealand and lease them back for the poultry business for 20 years. TPG says it will repay its debts, and reinvest in chicken breeding, meat processing and animal feed mills... Read more

McDonald's has pledged to boost its performance in Australia and other key markets after reporting a first-quarter drop in profits of 5.2 per cent. Profit for the first three months of the year was $US1.2 billion ($1.29bn) compared with $US1.27bn in the year-ago period. Diluted earnings per share of $US1.26 were down 4.0 per cent from a year ago and came in three cents shy of Wall Street expectations. Revenues rose 1.4 per cent to $US6.70bn, slightly below estimates... Read more

Shares in Yowie were higher after the listed confectionary company announced a first container order of its chocolate treats for a "major grocery retailer" in Australia. The undisclosed retailer will stock the Yowie product from the end of May when a container arrives in Melbourne from the company's plant in Florida. Yowie said it had received a positive response from Australian retailers to news that the former Cadbury product was being reintroduced. Yowie shares closed up four cents, or 5.71 per cent, at 74 cents.... Read more

It's being dubbed the ‘Australia tax’, the dubious honour of being slugged a premium price on everyday goods simply for living under the Southern Cross. Australians have a love affair with online shopping. We love the convenience of clicking away rather than battling crowded car parks and apathetic shop assistants, parting with $15 billion online in the year to February, according to NAB. And while local brands have cried foul over a perceived imbalance in GST collection against overseas sites, Australians are still spending most of their money at local e-commerce outlets, a dominant 74 per cent in fact... Read more

Shares in Diploma Group were firmer after the construction company announced it had won three new contracts collectively worth $66 million. The projects include a $17 million contract for the construction of a mixed-use development in Mount Pleasant for new client Norup + Wilson, a $38 million appointment to construct 109 apartments in Port Coogee for long-term client TRG Properties and an $11 million Quest Serviced Apartment development on Mounts Bay Road in the CBD. Diploma shares closed up 0.2 cents, or 6.25 per cent, at 3.4 cents.... Read more

NBN options open in bid to cut costs could include assets sale. NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow says the company is keeping all options open in the drive to cut costs including selling off assets such as satellites and cell towers and potentially sending call centres overseas. Mr Morrow told Fairfax Media that NBN Co had to focus on cutting costs because it was taxpayer funds at stake. Sale and leaseback facilities are a common way for companies to decrease their capital expenditure.... Read more

Australian Water Holdings weighed levy on Queensland Urban Utilities customers, Ipswich ratepayers... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Tim McArthur: Best and worst stocks on the ASX today... Read more

Opinion - Malcolm Maiden: High hopes for some big share deals. Shares in companies are priced on the basis of what investors think they and the markets they operate in will do in the future, and deals that are in the pipeline this year are being built on bullish expectations. They are safe to buy into if they are correctly pricing in special circumstances, or anticipating a general upswing in demand and earnings that duly occurs. They are not if they are relying too heavily on the record low interest rates and borrowing costs that have flowed from the global crisis of 2008-09... Read more

Opinion - Elizabeth Knight: Start-ups starved of venture capital... Read more

Opinion - Rob Burgess: Zen and the art of GST reform. If we are going to stuff up the Australian economy, journalists are going to have to take a very large part of the blame. For it is the news media that has, in the interests of a ‘good story’, convinced Mr and Mrs Average to score a number of own-goals. The most obvious is the looming replacement of a least-cost/tonne carbon trading system with a tax-funded scheme that means Australia will either miss its carbon abatement target or pay a lot more to hit it. Goal!... Read more





International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: Thank you, Netflix. The company not only provides programming to fill your down time, it's also helping boost the stock market today. The Dow is up 100 points, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are also advancing as investors welcomed quarterly results from several big companies and news of mergers in the pharmaceutical industry... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets are mixed. The S&P 500 is higher by 0.67%, while the IPC is leading the Bovespa lower. They are down 0.32% and 0.19% respectively... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished broadly higher today with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX is up 2.02% while France's CAC 40 is up 1.18% and London's FTSE 100 is up 0.85%... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.34%, while the Nikkei 225 led the Hang Seng lower. They fell 0.85% and 0.13% respectively... Read more

U.S. agency urges private lenders to ease automatic default rules on student loans... Read more

U.S. home resales hit 1-1/2 year low, but may be stabilizing... Read more

US taxpayers would need to pay an average of $1,259 more a year to make up the federal and state taxes lost to corporations and individuals sheltering money in overseas tax havens, according to a report. "Tax haven abusers benefit from America's markets, public infrastructure, educated workforce, security and rule of law - all supported in one way or another by tax dollars - but they avoid paying for these benefits," US Public Interest Research Group said in the report released today, the deadline for filing 2013 taxes. "Instead, ordinary taxpayers end up picking up the tab, either in the form of higher taxes, cuts to public spending priorities, or increases to the federal debt," it said... Read more

Darden Restaurant Inc has 60 days to call a shareholder meeting to vote on activist investor Starboard Value LP's proposal to delay the company's plan to spin off its struggling Red Lobster chain, CNBC reported. The special meeting has to be called as Starboard got consent from 54 percent of the shareholders of the largest U.S. full service restaurant operator, CNBC said, citing sources familiar with the issue. (link.reuters.com/ruw68v) Darden shares were up 3.2 percent at $49.76 in afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, valuing the company at more than $6.5 billion... Read more

Lockheed Martin has raised its 2014 earnings guidance and continued its funneling of cash to shareholders as buybacks soared to $US1.1 billion during the first quarter. Ongoing restructuring efforts by the world's largest defense contractor drove a 23 per cent increase in first-quarter profit compared with a year ago, with higher margins at four of its five divisions also supported by a continuing pension tailwind... Read more

Bank of New York Mellon Corp., the world’s largest custody bank, reported a first-quarter profit after a loss a year ago as rising stock markets lifted assets and fees for overseeing them. Net income rose to $661 million, or 57 cents a share, compared with a loss of $266 million, or 23 cents a share, in the same period last year that was caused by a tax court decision, the New York-based bank said today in a statement. Analysts had expected a profit of 53 cents a share... Read more

Netflix to increase subscription prices... Read more

Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline agreed to trade more than $20 billion worth of assets on Tuesday to bolster their best businesses and exit weaker ones as the drug industry contends with healthcare spending cuts and generic competition. The deals, which include Novartis' purchase of GSK's cancer drugs and GSK's acquisition of Novartis' vaccines business, came just after a newspaper report that AstraZeneca Plc had turned down a $101 billion bid approach from Pfizer Inc, a story that sent shares up across the sector... Read more

Valeant, Ackman offer to buy Botox maker Allergan for $47 billion... Read more

General Motors Co filed a motion in a U.S. court to enforce a bar on lawsuits stemming from ignition defects in cars sold before its 2009 bankruptcy as it fights proposed class action litigation that seeks to set aside the restriction. Plaintiffs suing the company also filed a proposed class action lawsuit in Manhattan bankruptcy court on Monday, seeking an order declaring that GM cannot use the bankruptcy protection to absolve itself from liabilities. The faulty ignition switch has been linked to at least 13 deaths and the recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles... Read more

Fall in lending to UK business raises concerns over shape of recovery. Rise in mortgage approvals fans fears of a bubble as house price strength becomes more widespread... Read more

Boeing gets $4.6bn order from China's Shandong Airlines... Read more

Bernie Ecclestone, the driving force behind Formula One for almost 40 years, is to stand trial in a bribery case that opens in Munich on Thursday and could result in him being imprisoned for up to 10 years. The 256-page indictment against the 83-year-old billionaire paints a picture of an autocrat who was so concerned about losing power that he paid part of a $44m (£26m) bribe to a former German banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, to keep his job. The case relates to events that led to a private equity firm, CVC, becoming the largest shareholder in Formula One after buying F1's parent company, SLEC Holdings, from Ecclestone's Bambino family trust, and a consortium of three banks.... Read more

Portugal faces key tests in turning page on bailout. Auditors from the EU and IMF begin their final health check on bailed-out Portugal on Tuesday, a day before the country faces an acid test with a return to regular borrowing on the debt market. Portugal, set next month to follow Ireland and become the second rescued eurozone country to emerge from near bankruptcy and austerity-driven suffering, is expected to pass both tests with confidence... Read more

Russia begins extracting oil in the Arctic despite Greenpeace efforts... Read more

Gazprom to work out South Stream route to Austria along with Italian route. Russian gas giant Gazprom has for the first time announced officially that the South Stream gas pipeline could have an endpoint not only at the Slovenian-Italian border, but also in Austria, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said following talks with Austria.... Read more

Ford suspends production at St. Petersburg plant. As of Monday April 21, the Ford Sollers plant in Vsevolozhsk has suspended production and laid off 700 employees as part of cost optimization... Read more

The man picked to lead Costa Rica’s central bank rejected Citigroup Inc.’s forecast that economic growth will be cut in half next year after Intel Corp. and Bank of America Corp. said they would fire 3,000 people. Olivier Castro, who was tapped to run the central bank by President-elect Luis Guillermo Solis, said the Central American nation’s $45 billion economy will expand 5 percent in 2015. That’s more than double the 2.2 percent outlook by Citi, which cut its forecast this month in the wake of the firings... Read more

Bolivia raises minimum wage by 20%... Read more

China will cut the amount of funds rural banks must keep in reserve by up to two percentage points, the central bank said Tuesday, easing monetary policy in a bid to boost its slowing economy. The announcement comes after the government said last week that gross domestic product grew 7.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, sharply down from 7.7 percent the previous three months owing to a slow global recovery as well as domestic structural reforms. Starting Friday, the reserve requirement rate (RRR) for county-level rural commercial lenders will be trimmed by two percentage points and the rate for county-level rural cooperative banks will be cut by 0.5 percentage points, the People's Bank of China said in a statement... Read more

Next batch of Chinese companies hope to raise $3.6 billion through China IPOs - state media... Read more

The European Commission cleared on Tuesday Suntory of Japan's $16 billion bid for the US maker of Jim Beam bourbon whisky. The Commission said the deal, which will make Suntory the world's third-biggest liquour firm, would not have an adverse impact on the European market. The two companies have limited overlap and are "mainly complementary," it said... Read more

Bangladesh factory collapse victims get compensation ahead of anniversary... Read more

India's top court lifts iron ore mining ban in Goa. India's Supreme Court has lifted a ban on iron ore mining in the western state of Goa, but limited extraction to 20m tonnes a year. The miners will also need to renew their leases with the Goa government. All 90 iron ore mines in Goa were shut down after a government-backed inquiry in 2012 alleged they were illegal and lacked environmental permission to operate. It had claimed the state lost nearly $6bn (£3.75bn) due to illegal mining. The ban in Goa followed a similar move in the southern state of Karnataka in 2011... Read more

India Hasn’t Ironed Out Mining Problems... Read more

Opinion - Allister Heath: Youngsters were hit hardest by the recession - but they are recovering fastest... Read more

Analysis - Peter Cai: A closer look at China's 'reluctant' consumers... Read more

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