Fertiliser plant set to create 1,500 jobs; Rio still open to iron ore merger; Investors face $7bn cut; ASIC to rule on short-selling; Weaker shares close to testing 3,000 level
Fertiliser plant set to create 1,500 jobs
Plans for a $3.5 billion fertiliser plant in the South West town of Collie, which would create 1,500 jobs during its construction, are set to be announced tomorrow. The West
Rio still open to iron ore merger
Rio Tinto is talking up the potential of a merger of its massive Pilbara iron ore operations with BHP Billiton's, driving speculation the combination could still be on the cards despite Rio's $US19.5 billion plans to bring in Chinalco. The Australian
Investors face $7bn cut
Dividend cuts among major banks are likely to suck a further $7 billion from investors over the next two years, at a time when falling equity values have already substantially cut spending power. The Age
ASIC to rule on short-selling
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will today decide whether to extend its five-month ban on short-selling financial stocks, as the turmoil on share markets worsens amid growing fears about the stability of the global banking system. The Australian
Weaker shares close to testing 3,000 level
The glass door cracked under the stockmarket yesterday as another day of unrelenting selling pressure sliced 1.6 per cent from the S&P-ASX 200, sending it closer to the psychological 3,000-point barrier. The West
THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:
Page 1: Plans for a $3.5 billion fertiliser plant in the South West town of Collie, which would create 1,500 jobs during its construction, are set to be announced tomorrow.
Page 4: Banana growers have vowed to fight plans to import fruit form the Philippines, saying the move could lead to a disease and pest outbreak which could ruin their industry.
Page 5: Bev Gallop, the wife of former WA premier Geoff Gallop, lost her eight-month battle with lung cancer yesterday, dying at her Sydney home at the age of 58.
Page 7: Australia may already be in its first recession since 1991, with new figures showing not even billions in cash handouts could stop the economy shrinking in the final three months of last year.
Page 10: A new Barnett government agency set up to manage the public service will hire three deputy commissioners on more than $140,000 each, sparking outrage as other departments are forced into a hiring freeze to achieve 3 per cent budget cuts.
The state opposition claimed yesterday that Colin Barnett had damaged business confidence in WA by letting slip revised costings which value the massive Gorgon gas project at $50 billion.
Business: The glass door cracked under the stockmarket yesterday as another day of unrelenting selling pressure sliced 1.6 per cent from the S&P-ASX 200, sending it closer to the psychological 3,000-point barrier.
Andrew Forrest has asked one of Australia's most experienced infrastructure engineers to become his offsider at Fortescue Metals Group in an attempt to improve the struggling Pilbara iron ore miner's performance.
The private account details of Opes Prime clients have fallen into the hands of a US "vulture fund" that is offering cash payments for control of their unsecured claims.
The rush to shore up balance sheets and expel debt saw listed Australian companies tap investors for $10 billion in capital in February, four times the $2.5 billion raised in the same month last year.
Rio Tinto's full board is set to travel to the Pilbara next month for a first-hand look at the iron ore operations at the centre of Chinalco's controversial $US19.5 billion ($30.6 billion) investment proposal.
THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:
Page 1: Australia is in recession for the first time in 17 years after the economy shrank unexpectedly in the December quarter, putting urgent pressure on the Rudd government to produce new stimulus measures despite a deteriorating budget position.
The board of Telstra will not permit the new chief executive to "tear up" the five-year strategic plan set out by departing Sol Trujillo and has stuck with his hardline stance over federal government plans to build a national broadband network.
Every student wanting to attend university by 2012 will be funded into a course of their choice under the Rudd government's ambitious aim to boost higher education participation - a move that has been likened to a budget blank cheque.
Page 3: Executive and middle managers' pay is set to be cut as part of an unprecedented cost-saving plan at carmaker Holden which the government hopes will be a model for other companies in the struggling manufacturing sector.
Page 5: The global accounting standards setter has defended its role in the financial crisis and blamed prudential regulators for lax rules that enabled banks to make risky bets, dole out excessive bonuses and pay too much in dividends.
A sharp fall in sales of new rental cars has contributed to a 22 per cent fall in Australian vehicle sales in February as the industry worries that the weaker market will drag on for months.
Page 6: Commonwealth Bank of Australia is understood to be owed close to $15 million in the collapse of former Billabong International chief executive Matthew Perrin's personal business interests, while Chinese financier Citic Capital Finance also has substantial exposure.
Page 14: Rio Tinto chief Tom Albanese faced a frosty reception from some investors as he pressed ahead with shareholder meetings to promote the miner's $US19.5 billion ($30.5 billion) deal with Chinalco.
Page 1: The global recession has caught up with Australia's economy, forcing the first fall in output in eight years and making the Rudd Government revise lower the budget forecasts it made only four weeks ago.
Without the $9 billion stimulus package that Kevin Rudd placed on the kitchen table before Christmas, Labor would now be facing an economic contraction of Whitlamesque proportions.
Page 2: The Rudd Government will remove caps on the number of university places and allow student demand to drive an ambitious target to raise the number of qualified graduates entering the workforce.
Page 3: Bev Gallop, the wife of former West Australian Labor premier Geoff Gallop, has died after a short battle with lung cancer.
Page 4: Households pocketed tax cuts, lower interest payments and cash handouts in the December quarter while cutting back on cars, eating out, alcohol and cigarettes.
The December national accounts have sounded the opening bell for what is likely to be a prolonged recession.
Australian businesses raided existing stock rather than risk a boost in production last quarter, as profits fell.
Recessionary forces have taken a firm grip on the manufacturing, finance and business services sectors and are starting to spread to other sectors of the economy.
Page 5: Malcolm Turnbull has declared that the contraction in the economy in the December quarter is proof of the Rudd Government's incompetence in economic management.
Business: Rio Tinto is talking up the potential of a merger of its massive Pilbara iron ore operations with BHP Billiton's, driving speculation the combination could still be on the cards despite Rio's $US19.5 billion plans to bring in Chinalco.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission will today decide whether to extend its five-month ban on short-selling financial stocks, as the turmoil on share markets worsens amid growing fears about the stability of the global banking system.
Financial stocks were sold off yesterday as investors were presented with the worrying prospect that Australia was following the world into recession.
Anxious Australian miners and investors take heart. This vast, uncompleted bridge spanning the Yangtze River near Nanjing in China - part of the new $US32 billion ($50 billion) high-speed train link between Beijing and Shanghai - still needs tens of thousands of tonnes of steel.
Shares of iron ore minnow Murchison Metals soared 15 per cent yesterday after China's Sinosteel lifted its holding above 5 per cent to become the third-biggest shareholder.
The wave of retrenchments in the investment banking sector has spread to Goldman Sachs JBWere as the lack of deal flow forces managements to slash costs.
Concern is mounting in the business community about a margin grab by the nation's major banks from corporate customers.
The global president of rating agency Standard & Poor's has rejected Kevin Rudd's claim that a "hopeless" conflict of interest built into the credit-rating business model was a key part of the global financial crisis.
Ten Network Holdings has asked some of its staff to "reduce" the number of days they work each week just four days after the television group's cash-strapped Canadian owner won a two-week reprieve from bankers over its $4.5 billion debt load.
The breadth of the US housing crisis for the average American is being overstated, according to a study released yesterday.
In a sign that pension funds and other institutional investors are about to get clobbered by losses in commercial real estate, Morgan Stanley has told investors to expect a fourth-quarter write-down of up to 60 per cent on the equity in a marquee $US8.8 billion ($13.9 billion) real estate fund, according to a letter to investors.
US car sales plunged yet again in February, falling 41 per cent to 688,000, according to Autodata.
China is ramping up spending at a faster pace than during the Asian financial crisis a decade ago.