10/02/2009 - 06:41

Today's Business Headlines

10/02/2009 - 06:41

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Economists at odds over Rudd's $42bn stimulus; BHP 'must not' dismantle mine; Downturn pulls plug on IT boom; Copper leads rise in metals prices; Blue chips help MAC buck trend

Today's Business Headlines

Economists at odds over Rudd's $42bn stimulus
Half a million Australians could lose their jobs in the next year if the Rudd government's $42 billion stimulus package was not approved, an economist told a Senate inquiry into the package last night. The West

BHP 'must not' dismantle mine
The state government would not allow the Ravensthorpe nickel plant to be dismantled, Colin Barnett warned yesterday, after BHP Billiton admitted that closing the $2 billion operation was an option. The West

Downturn pulls plug on IT boom
A six-year information technology spending bonanza has come to an abrupt halt as corporate computer users and vendors predict project cancellations and widespread layoffs flowing from the economic downturn. The Fin Review

Copper leads rise in metals prices
A muted recovery in copper prices has raised investors' hopes that metal markets may be turning. The West

Blue chips help MAC buck trend
Mining accommodation and services company The MAC Services Group says its exposure to blue chip clients and the right mines has helped to lift its first-half profit. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 6: Half a million Australians could lose their jobs in the next year if the Rudd government's $42 billion stimulus package was not approved, an economist told a Senate inquiry into the package last night.

The International Monetary Fund could run out of cash to fight the economic crisis in as little as six months, according to managing director Dominque Strauss-Kahn.

Australia's unemployment rate could hit 9 per cent by early next year, economists warned yesterday after another drop in job advertisements.

Page 9: The nurses' union will push for a regular $5,000 retention bonus in a bid to stem a shortage of about 1,000 nurses in the public sector.

Page 11: The state government would not allow the Ravensthorpe nickel plant to be dismantled, Colin Barnett warned yesterday, after BHP Billiton admitted that closing the $2 billion operation was an option.

Page 13: WA's biggest cattle processor Harvey Beef has cut 18 jobs as part of a business restructure.

Page 16: Maritime workers will refuse to handle lead exports through Fremantle harbour unless their union is satisfied there is no safety risk.

Page 17: Health funds are to come under unprecedented scrutiny by regulators, prompted by fears that the 9.6 million privately insured Australians could become unwitting casualties of the global financial crisis.

Business: A muted recovery in copper prices has raised investors' hopes that metal markets may be turning.

Coca-Cola Amatil shares slumped to their biggest loss in 12 years yesterday as investors dumped the stock after the collapse of brewer Lion Nathan's ambitious $8 billion takeover bid.

Rio Tinto's humiliation as a debt-ridden stock thrashing around for direction has been compounded by a boardroom split, with the miner yesterday announcing the shock resignation of chairman-elect James Leng.

Australia's telecommunications industry has been shaken again with news that the third and fourth-biggest mobile operators are to merge.

Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo refused to address reports that he is planning to step down at an address to local business leaders yesterday, instead talking up his company's commitment to investing in technology and productivity gains as it completes its five-year turnaround.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: A six-year information technology spending bonanza has come to an abrupt halt as corporate computer users and vendors predict project cancellations and widespread layoffs flowing from the economic downturn.

The shock resignation of Rio Tinto chairman designate Jim Leng has thrown the world's second-largest miner further into disarray as it finalises a $US20 billion ($29.7 billion) asset sale and share issue to Chinese state-controlled rival Chinalco.

Vodafone and Hutchison Telecommunications have set an ambitious target to topple Optus as the country's number 2 mobile phone network operator within two years, after unveiling plans to merge their Australian mobile businesses in a deal analysts value at up to $6 billion.

Page 3: The performance gap between industry superannuation funds and their retail counterparts is likely to narrow as the economy - and property values - deteriorate, experts argue.

Page 4: The Rudd government came under pressure last night to expand its $42 billion economic rescue plan to offer more help to the unemployed, in a push from social services groups to influence a crucial vote on the plan by the Greens and minor parties.

Page 5: Charities have begun cutting programs as shrinking profits affect corporate donations.

Demand for temporary skilled migrants in the construction industry has nearly halved since October as employers shy away from using 457 visas in an economic downturn.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Authorities fear the numbers of deaths from the Black Saturday bushfires could spiral to 230, as John Brumby called a royal commission into the devastating blazes and police hunted arsonists, labelled mass murderers by Kevin Rudd.

Page 2: The future of Kevin Rudd's $42 billion economic stimulus will be clear by Friday, despite politicians downing their weapons yesterday out of respect for victims of the Victorian bushfires.

Businesses and communities are digging deep, donating more than $22 million in less than 24 hours to help survivors rebuild.

Page 5: Until Saturday afternoon, Strathewen was a small community of about 200 people, nestled in rolling hills and quiet valleys between Arthurs Creek and Kinglake. By last night, it was clear that at least 27 people had died there.

Page 9: Consumers are likely to spend most of their cash bonuses, according to the US research that guided the Rudd Government while it assembled the stimulus package.

The Nine Network won the first night of the television ratings year, a night in which bushfire coverage wrought havoc with schedules but attracted huge audiences.

Page 10: Queensland electrical contracting firms face strikes over an 18 per cent pay demand, and claim they are being pressured to accept an ''interpretation allowance'' that would impose compulsory bargaining fees on non-union workers.

Thongs, Vegemite and salt and pepper shakers in the shape of the Sydney Opera House will feature on flights by the nation's newest international airline as part of an assault on Qantas's claim to be the spirit of Australia.

Business: Rio Tinto's chairman-elect Jim Leng has resigned only three weeks after he was appointed to the top job, fuelling speculation he might have objected to the company's potential sale of assets to Chinese aluminium maker Chinalco.

Takeovers mounting losses, insufficient cash flows and fast-moving network technology have triggered an upheaval in Australia's $13 billion a year mobile phone sector, with number three and four players Vodafone Australia and Hutchison ''3'' forced to merge.

The abrupt, pre-emptive and wholly sensible resignation of Rio Tinto's chairman-designate Jim Leng represents yet another low-water mark for a company that so recently stood as a beacon of cultured, conservative executive and boardroom management.

The battle to secure Queensland's coal seam gas reserves has intensified, with BG Group launching a hostile $796 million bid for Pure Energy Resources.

Private equity is not the bubble-inflating evil it is made out to be by some critics.

Mining accommodation and services company The MAC Services Group says its exposure to blue chip clients and the right mines has helped to lift its first-half profit.

China, the world's biggest copper consumer, might be struggling to buy the metal overseas and could delay negotiations following a rise in prices, according to Macquarie Group.

Printing and distribution house PMP will slash 76 jobs and close two print operations as it battles to rein in costs ahead of its half-yearly results tomorrow.

Transfield Services Infrastructure Fund has reported a significant fall in first-half profit and cut its distributions as its battles the economic slowdown.

Transport infrastructure firm Asciano Group is carrying out impairment testing of its asset values but does not expect any resulting charges to have a material effect on the company.

Suncorp shares have collapsed to their lowest point in more than a decade as the market speculates that a fresh bid from a rival bank is imminent.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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