ASB Securities Morning Brief for Tuesday, 15 April 2014
Tuesday, 15 April 2014

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand shares followed Wall Street lower as investors question whether tech and high-growth companies can deliver the earnings growth implied by their valuations. Pacific Edge led the NZX 50 Index lower, while Xero and Diligent Board Member Services paced the decline. The NZX 50 Index fell 27.892 points, or 0.5 percent, to 5063.539. Within the index, 25 stocks fell, 17 rose and eight were unchanged. Turnover was $100.7 million... Read more

The New Zealand dollar held its gains of last week against the greenback before public statements by Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen amid speculation she may clarify the central bank's view on the start of any interest rate hikes in the US. The kiwi traded at 86.81 US cents at 5pm in Wellington, little changed from the start of the day or the Friday close in New York. It was at 86.37 cents on Friday in Wellington. The trade-weighted index was little changed from 8am at 80.45, up from 80.02 on Friday... Read more

Bitcoin mining boom sputters... Read more

New Zealand inflation probably accelerated in the first quarter, keeping on track expectations that the Reserve Bank will lift the official cash rate again next week to mitigate the effects of strong demand growth in coming years. The consumers price index rose 0.5 per cent in the first quarter, for an annual rate of 1.7 per cent, according to a Reuters survey and the central bank's latest estimate. That would mark the fastest annual rate since the fourth quarter of 2011... Read more

New Zealand services sector activity, which accounts for about two thirds of the economy, rebounded in March to reach 2007 levels, after a drop off in February. The BNZ-BusinessNZ performance of services index rose to a seasonally adjusted 58.3 in March, from February's 53.1 and up from 55.2 a year earlier. A reading above 50 indicates expansion. Last month the PSI snapped nine consecutive months of growth in expansion as new orders had the biggest drop since the survey began in 2007... Read more

If the Government wants to get rid of independent financial advice, it should stand up and say so, one adviser says. Robert Oddy, of SiFA, has been working on the group’s submissions to MBIE on the possibility of exemptions from the DIMS regime and to the FMA on its regulatory reporting requirements. He said, given the direction that had been taken so far, it would be surprising if exemptions were allowed for DIMS providers... Read more

Calls are being made for clearer rules around what happens to a person's KiwiSaver savings when they are declared bankrupt. They come after a High Court ruling found the money could be put aside for creditors but should not be paid out until the bankrupt person is eligible for access to their retirement savings - typically at age 65... Read more

Support for regulatory improvements: FMA. Authorised financial advisers have shown widespread support for industry improvements, even when it comes to new regulation, the Financial Markets Authority says.... Read more

Five projects worth over 2.1 million will add further value to increasing the productivity of Māori primary sector assets. The Māori agribusiness projects have been approved by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ (MPI’s) Sustainable Farming Fund (SFF), from a total of 31 approved projects this year... Read more

A perfect storm has families eyeing up a 10-day holiday as retailers and hospitality businesses are left wondering what it will mean for their bottom line. For the first time since 2003, Easter Monday occurs in the same week as Anzac Day, which falls on a Friday. Workers can get a 10-day break by taking leave to cover the three days between Easter Monday and Anzac Day, and the Wellington hospitality trade fears it will be a tough patch... Read more

New Zealand's emissions of greenhouse gases grew 2.2 per cent in 2012, accelerating from 1.4 per cent in 2011. The increase, reported by the Ministry for the Environment in New Zealand's greenhouse gas inventory, also exceeds the average since 1990, over which period the cumulative increase in emissions was 25 per cent. Emissions in 2012 grew by 1.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, reflecting 900,000 tonnes or 2.9 per cent more from the energy sector, as a dry year reduced hydro-electricity production, and an 800,000 tonne or 2.4 per cent increase in agricultural emissions as the dairy herd grew. The figure does not include net removals of CO2 from the atmosphere as a result of forestry and land use change... Read more

ASB trials phone pay and wave technology. ASB customers will soon be able to ditch their wallets and pay for small purchases with their phone by attaching a sticker. The bank will launch a trial next month for its new PayTag service which uses the Visa paywave technology already available on credit cards. The technology allows people to pay by waving their card or phone over an eftpos terminal without having to enter a pin number or sign for purchases up to the value of $80.... Read more

Australia is trumpeting a revolution in credit card payments, but New Zealand is already ahead of the game, issuing "virtual" credit numbers without the plastic. The Reserve Bank of Australia has decided non-banks will be allowed to directly issue credit cards by the end of the year. But that is already the status quo here, and some of the innovative payment technologies expected to be enabled by the reform are already available.... Read more

Xero continues to tumble, falling below $30 to six-month low... Read more

No deal, say Abano rebel shareholders to buyout bid. The brinksmanship between Abano Healthcare Group and two shareholders owning 19 percent of the company continues, with 15 percent shareholder Peter Hutson rejecting a bid from Abano for the 50 percent of Bay International that he owns. Abano owns the other half of Bay, a chain of audiology businesses, and is offering $12.9 million in an unconditional cash offer, which the company says would resolve "all current management, governance and ownership issues." However, a spokesman for Hutson and fellow rebel shareholder James Reeves, said they would not be entertaining the offer and that their objective remained the unseating of incumbent chairman Trevor Janes.... Read more

Abano's share buyout offer labelled bizarre... Read more

Bathurst Resources, which has cut jobs and delayed the start to its controversial Escarpment open-cut mine on the Denniston Plateau pending a recovery in coal prices,may raise up to $6.87 million in a discounted share placement. The mining company had its stock halted from trading ion the NZX and ASX for the capital raising. A competitive bookbuild is underway as part of a placement that would amount to 10 percent to 12 percent of Bathurst's capital at a discount of 15 percent to 20 percent. The detail was included in Bathurst's statement to the ASX, but not in its statement to the NZX, where it notified only that the shares were being placed in a trading halt pending announcements about a capital-raising, due tomorrow morning... Read more

Hellaby Holdings, whose interests range from footwear to oil and gas services, expects to add $20 million to annual revenue after buying New Zealand Trucks South Island and Dasko Marketing NZ. The Auckland-based investor paid "less than $10 million" for the auto-related companies and expects they will deliver a combined $2.5 million boost to yearly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, it said in a statement. Shares in Hellaby fell 0.7 percent to $2.88 and have declined 7.1 percent in the past 12 months. Its recommendation was evenly split between a 'buy' and 'hold' according to four analysts surveyed by Reuters, with a median price target of $3.48.... Read more

Goodman, the manager of Goodman Property Trust, said it plans to spend $44.4 million developing three new industrial properties. The developments, which will add 28, 430 square meters of industrial space to its portfolio, will be funded through existing debt facilities and further selling from its asset disposal programme, the company said in a statement. Last month, the Auckland-based company refinanced $600 million of bank facilities, extending the term to an average of 3 ½ years. Its total debt facilities are $895 million. Steel & Tube Holdings will rent the Otahuhu Savill Link development as well as space in the Highbrook business park in East Tamaki, which are due to be completed in November, it said. Shares in the listed property trust rose 0.5 percent to 97 cents and have declined 12 percent over the past year, underperforming the NZX 50 Index's 14 percent gain. The stock has an average 'hold' rating, according to six analysts surveyed by Reuters, with a median price ta... Read more

DNZ Property Fund, the worst performing property stock on the NZX 50 Index the past year, will shed five jobs, including two executives as it looks to cut costs. The restructure, initiated by chief executive Peter Alexander who joined the company in December, will save $1 million in annual remuneration from the 2016 financial year, the Auckland-based company said in a statement. Shares in the property fund rose 0.3 percent to $1.54. The stock has an average recommendation of "hold" according to five analysts surveyed by Reuters, with a median price target of $1.61. In the past year DNZ has declined 14 percent, underperforming the benchmark index's 14 percent gain... Read more

Tech startup Loomio nears $100k crowdfund target... Read more

Eric Watson has hinted at offering Warriors’ members shares in their club as a solution to an ownership row between him and Sir Owen Glenn. The Warriors co-owner said yesterday he was open to the idea of selling shares to the more than 9000 Warriors Club members after confirming he was committed to buying out Sir Owen trust’s half share, which was bought for over $6 million in 2012. “We have a lot of members and they are the people we owe the first duty to in many ways,” Mr Watson told the Sunday Star Times... Read more

Can Warehouse boss Powell deliver profits from new investments? Warehouse Group, New Zealand's largest publicly listed retailer, expects its 'red sheds' to return to earnings growth next financial year as its store rejuvenation bears fruit and says the success of its drive to expand through acquisitions should be evident within three years... Read more

Rebrand planned for Noel Leeming... Read more

Lloyd's underwrites NZ warranty. One of the world's biggest and oldest insurers is underwriting a new building warranty insurance scheme being launched in New Zealand. Duncan Colebrook, of Auckland's Stamford Insurance, said the 325-year-old Lloyd's of London was behind the new scheme which he hopes will capture about 15,000 houses annually, or around half the new-build market... Read more

Upmarket grocery chain Nosh has pulled back on expansion plans outside its core Auckland markets in the central, eastern suburbs and North Shore. The company closed its poor performing Hamilton store in February and will not go ahead with outlets that had been planned for Tauranga and Pukekohe. "We just decided that we were going to concentrate on our Auckland stores," said Nosh chief executive Hayden Syers. Nosh has been under new management since the middle of last year, when Syers' father-in-law Paul Lucas injected capital into the business and bought the shares of former chief executive and co-founder Clinton Beuvink... Read more

Oravida uses Key photo in scampi ad. Export company Oravida is using a picture of Prime Minister John Key in an ad in a Chinese magazine. But Mr Key's office says the use of his picture does not explicitly endorse the product.... Read more

A now-bankrupt property developer who was jailed for duping a family into buying properties from his company should instead serve home detention, his lawyer has told the High Court. Glenn Cooper bought properties at mortgagee sales and sold them to buyers who were under pressure to consolidate debt, the Serious Fraud Office said when the developer admitted five dishonesty charges in January last year. Cooper, now in his early 40s, used false sale-and-purchase agreements to conceal the fact that the properties were actually owned by companies associated with him. He also forged signatures on the agreements and added false details to loan applications... Read more

Leaseholders ready to fight. Cornwall Park Trust Board warned of legal battles, as people express shock at lease proposal.... Read more

The Cornwall Park Trust board is applying once again to extend freezing orders over assets of a woman it is suing after she abandoned her house. The board, which owns 110 Greenlane and One Tree Hill properties, is chasing Auckland woman Yong Xin Chen for more than $300,000 in allegedly unpaid leasehold fees, renovation costs and expenses... Read more

Plain pack tobacco fight heats up... Read more

Analysis - Simon Swallow: Simon Swallow points out there are more changes coming for UK pensions, and their government is defending its tax base. If you thought your UK pension assets were safe after the radical New Zealand foreign pension tax reforms – guess again. Now the UK government is having a crack by entirely rewriting the UK pension landscape. Everyone with a UK pension is affected by two proposed seismic changes:... Read more

Opinion - David Hargreaves: Is house price growth accelerating or slowing? And how on earth are we supposed to be able to tell?... Read more

Opinion - Geordie Hooft: 'We don't know how lucky we are'. Discussion on tax rates is already making headlines, with John Key declaring there will be no lolly scramble... Read more

Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: There have been losses across the board on the Australian share market, as a continued sell-off on Wall Street and worries about tensions in Ukraine spook investors. The All Ordinaries Index lost 1.3 per cent to close at 5,354. The ASX 200 also lost 70 points to finish on 5,359. Coca-Cola Amatil was the worst performer on the ASX 200 as investors continue to absorb the news of its profit downgrade last week. The ratings agency Standard and Poor's has cut the drinks maker's credit rating from A- to BBB+, adding to the pain... Read more

The Australian dollar is higher despite falls on global equity markets, amid an improved local economic outlook. At 1700 AEST on Monday, the local unit was trading at 93.86 US cents, up from 93.75 cents on Friday. FXCM market analyst David de Ferranti said the Australian dollar had shown remarkable resilience despite the sell-off in equities... Read more

An economic forecaster is urging the Federal Government to "cut hard and cut early" in next month's budget, targeting seniors, families and businesses. In its annual pre-budget forecast, Macroeconomics has backed the numbers in the Government's most recent fiscal update handed down in December. The group is urging the Government to target the middle and upper classes with cuts to assistance to seniors and families with children, as well as corporate welfare... Read more

Super should be an income, not a lump sum. The federal government needs to encourage retirees to use their superannuation as an income stream rather than a lump sum withdrawal, industry experts say. the government runs the risk of being forced to further subsidise retirement income if it doesn't provide better options, the Centre of Excellence in Population Ageing Research has said in a submission to the government's financial system inquiry... Read more

Bracket creep to put average earners at top tax rate by mid-century. Accounting firm PwC has warned that, without government intervention, wage increases will see average tax payers in the middle personal income tax bracket forced into the top bracket. PwC's report shows that average income earners will be the hardest hit, as personal income tax starts to make up a larger share of total tax revenue. Bracket creep occurs when inflation pushes income into higher tax brackets, resulting in higher income taxes but no increase in real purchasing power.... Read more

Lifting the standard of living in Australia is the ultimate aim of a review of competition laws and policies. The first such inquiry since the Hilmer review in 1992 aims to boost competition across the Australian economy, says the independent review's chair Ian Harper. Releasing an issues paper on Monday, Prof Harper said competition policy can boost living standards and productivity by driving innovation, improving the range of choices open to consumers, and making markets more efficient with more competitive prices. "We need a modern, responsive competition policy framework," he said in a statement... Read more

The Federal Government is giving little sign that it will sign up to the deep pollution cuts recommended in the latest report by the United Nations panel on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is calling for global emissions cuts of up to 70 per cent by the middle of the decade, if nations want to meet their goal to limit temperature growth to two degrees Celsius... Read more

Construction work to slump in mining states, rise in NSW. A prominent economic forecaster is warning of a looming downturn in engineering construction, as mining investment grinds to a halt and the Commonwealth and state governments slash spending. BIS Shrapnel's latest Engineering Construction in Australia report predicts activity will slump by 25 per cent in the next five years.... Read more

Robots set to work the mines of the future. Mines without miners? Not quite. Still, a technology boom in robots, drones, driverless trucks and unmanned trains is beginning to reshape one of the world's most labour-intensive industries, allowing development of mines in regions once thought too dangerous or remote to exploit. Already about 200 driverless haul trucks are working iron ore mines, mainly in Australia. Meanwhile, mining giant Rio Tinto, which funds one of the world's largest non-military robotics programmes, will soon use unmanned trains to deliver cargo to the coast and set drones aloft at its remote mines... Read more

Santos plans to supply gas to the domestic market as it pushes ahead with boosting lucrative exports. Chief executive David Knox said the $18.5 billion his company has invested in Australian gas would not have occurred if gas exports had been restricted. The gas producer can sell one unit of gas into the Japanese market for around $14.50, while the equivalent amount sold into Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide fetches around $4, he said... Read more

Junior explorer Padbury Mining has delayed a planned announcement to the stock market on who will fund a more than $6 billion plan to build the Oakajee port and rail project. On Friday, the company announced that unnamed local private equity investors would fund the deal. Hours later it was forced into a trading halt because it would not name the investors. The company had promised to reveal all tomorrow but now it says it will make an announcement by Thursday... Read more

Palmer hits out at waste claims. Tailings dams at Clive Palmer's nickel refinery have reached capacity and operations have been suspended to prevent toxic waste from spilling into Great Barrier Reef waters. Queensland government inspectors assessed the dams at the Yabulu refinery, north of Townsville on Monday after torrential rain from Cyclone Ita. An Environment Department spokeswoman says Queensland Nickel has suspended its operations and no tailings are being dumped for the moment because the dams are overflowing into another holding pond.... Read more

Gold miner Metals X has paid almost $1 million in royalties to ASX-listed Carnegie Wave Energy over its Higginsville operations, 152km south of Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Carnegie today said it had received a payment of $950,115 relating to all mining activities up to December 31. Metals X secured what many considered the gold bargain of 2013 when it acquired the Higginsville and South Kalgoorlie operations from Alacer Gold for $40 million. Carnegie shares closed flat at 5.1 cents, while Metals X ended off 0.5 cents, or 2.63 per cent, at 18.5 cents.... Read more

Rio Tinto is tipped to beat rival BHP Billiton on iron ore growth in their latest quarterly updates, but the latter's petroleum division should make up for that.... Read more

BHP, Rio join campaign against OECD limits on profit-shifting... Read more

QBE today confirmed it is reviewing its embattled United States operations, following reports it is set to offload its mid-market business Winterthur and is interviewing advisers for a potential sale. Investors were unimpressed, sending QBE shares 3.78 per cent lower to $11.98 at 3.59pm... Read more

Car crash: Huge hit to jobs and growth as automotive manufacturing ends in Australia, warns new study. The closure of car manufacturing could cost Australia nearly 200,000 jobs and $29 billion in lost economic output, a new report predicts. The nationwide impacts will extend far beyond the core car-making regions of Victoria and South Australia. Victoria will be hardest hit by the closure of the car plants when first Ford, then General Motors Holden and Toyota stop manufacturing in Australia over the next three years.... Read more

Struggling food and beverage maker Coca-Cola Amatil has had its credit rating cut by Standard & Poor's. The ratings agency has taken it down a notch from A- to BBB+ as mounting competition and weak profit margins dent the company's operating performance. The BBB+ rating is still investment grade, and S&P says the company's outlook remains stable, although it warns further downward rating pressure could arise if the company's debt to earnings ratio substantially rises, its cash flow weakens or there is reduced support from The Coca-Cola Company, which owns 29.2 per cent of the firm which is licensed to produce and sell its products in Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and some Pacific Islands... Read more

Westfield restructure 'fair': experts. Two expert reports from KPMG and Grant Samuel & Associates have found the planned restructure of Westfield Group and Westfield Retail Trust is in the best interests of securityholders. Westfield Group plans to spin off its Australian and New Zealand business and merge it with Westfield Retail Trust, forming Scentre Group, leaving Westfield Corporation to focus on its international business.... Read more

ANZ tie-up looks to boost Chinese investment in Australia. ANZ will look to extend its existing relationship with China Development Bank, in a move that will see the lender throw its support behind high-quality foreign direct investment in Australia by Chinese enterprises. ANZ said its plans coincided with projections that the value of China’s outbound deals could reach as much as $200 billion by 2030. According to a PwC report in February, the total value of China’s foreign deals fell from $US66.4 billion ($70.66bn) in 2012 to $US51.5 billion ($54.80bn) in 2013... Read more

Cabinet expected to sign off on Badgerys Creek as site of Sydney's second airport... Read more

Crowdfunding services are emerging as significant funding and marketing platforms for new media projects in Australia, as home-grown player Pozible last week reaching $20 million in total funds pledged, with media and entertainment its biggest category. Players including original crowdfunder Indiegogo, US-based Kickstarter and Pozible, provide a way for people to ask friends and the public to contribute to a set fundraising goal for a particular project within a stated period of time, often in return for a reward. US player Kickstarter says it has raised $4m in pledges in Australia since establishing a local site.... Read more

Virtus Health chief executive Sue Channon has questioned whether Primary Health Care could successfully enter the $500 million fertility market, saying the company will struggle to attract specialists and satisfy customers who are wary of low cost offerings. Primary’s potential move in the growing in-vitro fertilisation market came to light after managing director Edmund Bateman told investors of his interest after the medical centre and pathology operator’s February result announcement. Primary has since sent letters to fertility specialists asking them to consider jumping ship... Read more

The Federal Court has found supermarket giant Woolworths has breached an undertaking on fuel shopper dockets, but that Coles did not break the agreement. Both supermarkets reached an enforceable deal with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last year to limit petrol discounts to 4 cents per litre, amid concerns supermarket subsidised heavy fuel discounting was hurting independent service stations. In February, the ACCC took court action, alleging the supermarkets had breached the agreement by offering bundled discounts. The Federal Court today found that Coles did not breach the agreement, because it funded its discounts of up 14 cents a litre primarily through its Coles Express stores located within the service stations... Read more

ACCC welcomes Woolworths decision... Read more

Millions of dollars are stolen each year through ''skimming'' of people's bank details as they make transactions. A court case in Melbourne last week highlighted a ''nightmare'' scenario of offenders using new techniques while customers withdraw cash from ATMs. The case involved ''cash trapping'', whereby offenders insert a tool similar to a fork into an ATM during a small withdrawal, causing the cash dispenser to jam. The ''forking'' scam was recently described to a judge who heard that four men had conspired to defraud a total of $184,920 from 248 ATMs, most of them in suburban Melbourne, between December 2012, and March 2013... Read more

Telstra's NBN payday could be worth $100 billion... Read more

Sydney is predicted to overtake central Queensland and the Pilbara in Western Australia as the next construction hotspot, according to economic forecaster BIS Shrapnel. The new independent report says NSW is heading into a period of sustained growth, in stark contrast to the other states and territories. BIS says the upswing in non-resource engineering construction work in Sydney is the leading factor. Projects including the $9 billion North West Rail Link, the $2.8 billion M1-M2 Link, the $1.6 billion Sydney Light Rail, the $3.6 billion first stage of the WestConnex road project and upgrades on the Pacific Highway are all boosting Sydney.... Read more

Opinion - Ross Greenwood: Household name manufacturers are failing but the little Aussie battlers are stepping up in their place. Like dominos they have fallen. Ford, Toyota, General Motors Holden, Alcoa, Reckitt & Colman and Heinz. Every one of them a foreign owned manufacturer. Each of them a household name. And all of them found cheaper production alternatives elsewhere around the world. The closure of them, one-by-one, left hundreds of job losses behind. The impression you get is that Australia can’t competitively make things anymore. It’s as if Australia’s manufacturing industry - especially its heartland, Sydney - is dying. But it’s simply not true... Read more

Opinion - Alan Kohler: Superannuation is too costly, so bill me... Read more

Opinion - Ian Verrander: We signed some trade agreements? Big deal. It is time to admit that one-on-one trade deals are largely ineffectual.... Read more

International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: Investors came back and dusted themselves off after a stomach churning sell-off last week. The main driver of this newly found optimism is a better than expected report from Citigroup and strong retail sales data. The Nasdaq is up over 1% in midday trading, and the S&P 500 and Dow Industrials aren't far behind... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets are mixed today. The S&P 500 is up 0.50% while the IPC gains 0.15%. The Bovespa is off 0.85%.... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished higher today with shares in France leading the region. The CAC 40 is up 0.43% while London's FTSE 100 is up 0.34% and Germany's DAX is up 0.26%.... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Hang Seng gained 0.15% and the Shanghai Composite rose 0.05%. The Nikkei 225 lost 0.36%.... Read more

Oil prices steady amid Russia-Ukraine tensions. Oil prices steadied on Monday as escalating Russia-Ukraine tensions that could affect energy supplies heading West offset an expected resumption to Libyan crude exports, analysts said. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for delivery in May fell 19 cents to $103.55 a barrel compared with Friday's close. Brent North Sea crude for May edged up five cents to stand at $107.38 a barrel around midday in London.... Read more

Obama’s Shrinking Budget Deficits Silence Foreign Critics. Six months ago, global finance officials meeting in Washington berated the U.S. for failing to put its fiscal house in order. This time, the critics were silent. The Congressional Budget Office projected today that the 2014 deficit will be the lowest in six years and down more than 60 percent from the record $1.4 trillion in 2009. With the annual April 15 tax filing deadline looming, the U.S. has received about $80 billion more in income taxes this fiscal year than it had 12 months earlier... Read more

American retailers warmed up in March as the winter chill faded -- and it wasn’t just car dealers who benefited. Sales (RSTAMOM) jumped a greater-than-forecast 1.1 percent, the biggest gain since September 2012, following a 0.7 percent advance in February that was more than twice as large as previously reported, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington... Read more

Trillion-dollar firms dominating bonds prompting probes. Bill Gross and Larry Fink manage a $3 trillion pile of bonds -- an amount almost as big as Germany’s economy. Their firms, Pacific Investment Management Co. and BlackRock Inc., doubled holdings since 2008, outpacing the market’s growth of 50 percent. Some of the largest hedge-fund firms, including Bridgewater Associates LP and BlueCrest Capital Management LLP, have also more than doubled their investments in debt, data compiled by Bloomberg show. At the same time, Wall Street banks are shrinking their stakes in bonds, Federal Reserve data show... Read more

Facebook prepares to launch e-money transfer service in Europe. Facebook is preparing a money transfer service in Europe that would allow it to compete with the likes of Western Union, while giving users the option of storing money with the social network or buying items online. The US tech firm is seeking regulatory approval in its European base in Ireland for "e-money" status, which would see it issue digital credits that can be converted into cash by recipients. The firm already has permission for some forms of money transfer in the US, which allow payments within apps, including the Candy Crush Saga and Farmville games, from which Facebook takes a 30% cut. The company facilitated $2.1bn (£1.3bn) in transactions across Facebook in 2013, primarily to games publishers.... Read more

Citigroup Inc posted better-than-expected quarterly income as losses on troubled assets narrowed, but revenue declined in many of its major businesses and operating expenses remained stubbornly high. The biggest boon to Citigroup's first-quarter results came from Citi Holdings, the unit that houses the assets it's looking to shed. But echoing JPMorgan Chase & Co's results on Friday, Citigroup was hurt overall by a decline in revenue from bond trading and home mortgage lending... Read more

Herbalife shares plunge on report of FBI probe... Read more

Heartbleed hacks hit Mumsnet and Canada's tax agency. A leading UK site for parents and the Canadian tax authority have both announced they have had data stolen by hackers exploiting the Heartbleed bug. Mumsnet - which says it has 1.5 million registered members - said that it believed that the cyber thieves may have obtained passwords and personal messages before it patched its site. The Canada Revenue Agency said that 900 people's social insurance numbers had been stolen. These are the first confirmed losses... Read more

Lawsuit claims CME gave high-frequency traders special access. A group of traders has sued CME Group Inc, accusing the operator of the world's largest derivatives exchange of selling market data to high frequency traders, cheating other investors who lacked such access. In a complaint filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, William Braman, Mark Mendelson and John Simms said CME and its Chicago Board of Trade unit have since 2007 given high-frequency traders early access to buy and sell orders.... Read more

Global commerce is set to grow by 4.7 percent this year, the World Trade Organization said on Monday, with recovery in rich economies expected to mitigate risks in developing nations. The WTO previously had forecast that trade would expand by 4.5 percent in 2014, up from an estimated rate of 2.1 percent in 2013. So the latest forecast points to substantially more than a doubling of the growth achieved last year. Trade is a key measure of the health of the global economy which it both stimulates and reflects... Read more

WTO: Global trade to gain speed in 2014 and 2015... Read more

UK workers receive first real pay rise for four years. British workers have enjoyed the first rise in their real pay for four years with wage rises finally overtaking inflation, official data is expected to confirm this week. Economists believe inflation ticked down to 1.6% in March from 1.7% in February while annual wage growth is thought to have been 1.8% in the three months to February. Without bonuses, pay growth was 1.7%, according to the poll of economists by Reuters... Read more

Eurozone industrial output grows 0.2% in February... Read more

Lord Myners says he supports Co-operative values... Read more

French auto group Peugeot Citroen, fighting to recover from crisis with a new Chinese shareholder, presented a global recovery strategy on Monday, but its shares slumped. The group is to reposition its brands in markets worldwide and notably in Asia, pursue cost cuts and put all its efforts into raising profits and building a money-making culture. But traders held that the targets for a return to profits amounted to too little, too late and PSA Peugeot Citroen shares fell sharply. The group would focus overall on a culture of performance and global branding, it said in a statement... Read more

Italian fashion and leather brand Gucci, which is owned by French group Kering, has taken direct control of its shops in Moscow and will open two new sales outlets in the Russian capital, the company said on Monday. The label founded in Florence in 1921 has six shops in Russia, including corners in luxury villages and malls. It will now manage its three Moscow stores directly while its shops in other towns will continue to be run by local partners... Read more

The U.S. is prepared to slap more sanctions on Russia over its incursion into Ukraine, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew said today when signing a $1 billion loan guarantee for Ukraine. “Working with our allies, we are fully prepared to impose additional significant sanctions on Russia as it continues to escalate the situation in Ukraine, including apparently through support to a concerted campaign by armed militants in eastern Ukraine,” he said... Read more

BRICS countries to set up their own IMF. Very soon, the IMF will cease to be the world's only organization capable of rendering international financial assistance. The BRICS countries are setting up alternative institutions, including a currency reserve pool and a development bank... Read more

China Minmetals says a consortium led by one of its subsidiaries, MMG, has agreed to buy Glencore Xstrata's stake in the Las Bambas copper mine project in Peru for $US5.85 billion ($A6.24 billion). China Minmetals, a state-owned mining giant, called it the largest overseas acquisition by China's metal mining industry. "The Las Bambas project is in line with the long-term strategy of Minmetals and MMG," Minmetals president Zhou Zhongshu said in a statement on Monday. "(The acquisition) will further optimise the mining asset composition of Minmetals"... Read more

China's first quarter growth figures could come in lower than expected... Read more

South Korea's state health insurer sues tobacco firms. South Korea's state health insurer is suing three tobacco firms, including the local unit of Philip Morris, to offset smoking-related treatment costs. The local arm of British American Tobacco has also been named in the lawsuit, along with market leader at home, KT&G Corp... Read more

Singapore's economic growth has slowed sharply in the first three months of the year, but the central bank has stood pat on monetary policy, saying it would be lifted by a pick-up in global growth. Preliminary estimates showed the city-state's trade-reliant economy expanded a seasonally adjusted 0.1 per cent quarter on quarter, the trade ministry said on Monday. That compared with 6.1 per cent expansion in October-December. The ministry said growth was hit by a 1.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter contraction in the services industry. The advance gross domestic product (GDP) estimates are based on two months of data, but is given out as a preview to the trade-sensitive economy's performance during the quarter.... Read more

Can the Good Times Continue for India’s Software and Outsourcing Companies?... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Gavin Hewitt: Ukraine crisis: Big test for Europe... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Are tech companies such as Twitter and Netflix heralding another dotcom bust with their falling share values?... Read more

Opinion/Analysis - Krishan Sharma: Can Oculus Rift survive Facebook? Virtual reality outfit Oculus may yet become one of the biggest tech success stories of this decade but it’s squandered a lot of goodwill by embracing a takeover over by Facebook... Read more

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