11/03/2009 - 06:31

Today's Business Headlines

11/03/2009 - 06:31

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Westpac's plan to top SME lending; China slides into deflation; Labor braces for emissions fight; UBS tips $US2,500 an ounce for bullion; Turnbull, Costello face off on IR

Today's Business Headlines

Westpac's plan to top SME lending
Westpac has outlined an aggressive plan to overtake National Australia Bank as the nation's biggest lender to the $60 billion small and medium-sized business segment. The Australian

China slides into deflation
China has plunged into deflation, recording its first drop in consumer prices in more than six years, adding to worries about how the world's third-largest economy is weathering the global slowdown. The Australian

Labor braces for emissions fight
The Rudd government's hopes of pushing its emissions trading legislation through parliament by midyear have suffered a blow after the coalition and the Greens each declared they would be prepared to vote it down rather than allow a flawed scheme to become law. The Fin Review

UBS tips $US2,500 an ounce for bullion
The gold price could hit $US2,500 an ounce as the global financial crisis continues to boost its safe haven appeal, UBS analysts said yesterday as they delivered the bank's most bullish outlook for the precious metal yet. The West

Turnbull, Costello face off on IR
Malcolm Turnbull has asserted his leadership authority over rival Peter Costello in a dramatic policy confrontation in which he successfully pressed the former treasurer to back the Coalition's industrial relations position. The Australian

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 4: Harvey Beef is set to make 160 of its 500 workers at its South west abattoir redundant, claiming it cannot sustain present losses because of the global financial downturn and high labour costs.

Fears are growing Australia will fall into a deep recession and unemployment will soar after new figures showed a collapse in business conditions and firms effectively giving up on hiring staff.

Page 5: Telstra landline customers will collectively pay tens of millions of dollars more for short STD and overseas phone calls from the end of this month because of a new billing system.

Perth motorists are paying among the highest prices for LPG in Australia, with some Caltex and Woolworths station raising prices to 72.9 cents a litre yesterday.

Business: The cost of insuring against corporate debt defaults soared to a record high yesterday in a worrying sign the liquidity squeeze strangling the global economy is not letting up.

The gold price could hit $US2,500 an ounce as the global financial crisis continues to boost its safe haven appeal, UBS analysts said yesterday as they delivered the bank's most bullish outlook for the precious metal yet.

Australia's corporate watchdog is investigating the controversial purchase of a 10.7 per cent stake in gold junior Regis Resources by a group of former Equigold executives.

Perth's oldest stockbroking firm, DJ Carmichael & Co, fell into the red last year, joining a growing list of financial services companies suffering because of the sharemarket downturn.

Independent supermarket owner Metcash has followed its major rivals in stepping up its push towards private labels, which now account for 22 per cent of the grocery market as the economic downturn and shoppers' growing loyalty reinforces their popularity.

Telstra has gone on the offensive before the Rudd government picks a preferred tender for a $10 billion-plus broadband network, by unveiling plans to boost speeds on its Melbourne cable network.

Commonwealth Bank is negotiating confidential settlements with clients it shares with Storm Financial that could potentially cost the bank tens of millions of dollars as it tries to head off legal action over its alleged role in the collapse of the failed wealth adviser, and the financial ruin of its clients.

Miners Xstrata and Rio Tinto have bowed to reality, accepting sharp price cuts under new annual thermal coal contracts struck with a major Japanese utility.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: The Rudd government's hopes of pushing its emissions trading legislation through parliament by midyear have suffered a blow after the coalition and the Greens each declared they would be prepared to vote it down rather than allow a flawed scheme to become law.

Pressure is building on the Reserve Bank of Australia to deliver another interest rate cut next month after a collapse in job advertisements and hiring intentions underlined concerns that the economy is rapidly succumbing to the deep global downturn.

Outgoing Telstra chief Sol Trujillo has fired a parting shot at the Rudd government's $10 billion-plus national broadband project by announcing a massive upgrade to the telecom giant's own cable network.

Former Treasurer Peter Costello has challenged opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull on a key element of the industrial relations policy at a tense party room meeting, in another display of the coalition's divisions on economic direction.

Page 3: The federal government has directed the inspector-general of taxation to investigate claims by businesses that the Australian Taxation Office has taken U-turns in how it applies the law.

Page 5: Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull has been forced to change his position on the government's workplace relations reforms by shunning Labor's mandate to scrap the Work Choices laws and is holding out the prospect of blocking the laws in the Senate.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Malcolm Turnbull has asserted his leadership authority over rival Peter Costello in a dramatic policy confrontation in which he successfully pressed the former treasurer to back the Coalition's industrial relations position.

Kevin Rudd's family finances are heading in a different direction from those of most people as the global recession helps to add as much as $300 million to the annual turnover of his wife Therese Rein's job-placement company in Britain.

The Australian economy is sinking into recession, with business conditions worse than in the December quarter as companies freeze hiring.

Telstra will turbo-charge its capital city cable broadband network, in a move seen by rivals as a challenge to the government's $15 billion national broadband network.

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong has appealed to the Senate to pass the government's emissions trading legislation as a "better than nothing" compromise that will start to transform the economy.

Page 2: The 374 pages of legislation to set up an emissions trading scheme released yesterday follows the white paper on the subject, which followed the green paper, which followed the Garnaut report.

The Coalition and business groups have received unexpected backing for their argument that a recession is no time to introduce emissions trading - from US President Barack Obama's top economics guru.

Page 3: Business travel from Australia has slumped by almost a quarter as companies slash travel budgets because of the global financial crisis.

Page 4: The Rudd Government has insisted its new workplace legislation will protect the privacy of employees when unions inspect staff records.

The ACTU will investigate whether Labor's workplace laws breach Australia's international obligations in a move left-wing unions hope will pressure the ALP to promise more pro-union changes at the next federal election.

Page 7: The Liberal Party will turn to Australia's version of "Joe the Plumber" to help it close a widening fundraising gap opened up by Labor.

Business: China has plunged into deflation, recording its first drop in consumer prices in more than six years, adding to worries about how the world's third-largest economy is weathering the global slowdown.

Listed fund managers have become the major victims of the equity market crisis.

Telstra's $300 million investment on speeding up its fibre network is another neat little manoeuvre in its highly tactical, $15 billion game of chicken with Communications Minister Stephen Conroy.

Iron ore spot prices could fall further as Chinese steel and iron ore stockpiles continue to grow, analysts say, creating further problems for Australian miners as they negotiate annual contracts.

Singapore Airlines has accused Australia of pursuing an "ambiguous and protectionist" policy on access to international air routes.

Westpac has outlined an aggressive plan to overtake National Australia Bank as the nation's biggest lender to the $60 billion small and medium-sized business segment.

BHP Billiton has refused to rule out further job cuts after yesterday sacking 85 workers at its Olympic Dam operation in South Australia.

The proposed $253 million settlement of the Opes Prime stock-lending debacle has resulted in the suspension of a legal case, pending a May vote on the deal by creditors.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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