Today's Business Headlines

22/07/2009 - 06:51

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Emergency waiting time worst in nation; Iron ore spot price poised to jump 12%; Power pressure - business battles soaring energy bills; Harvey says signs are good after sales boost; Last rate cut for some time

Emergency waiting time worst in nation
WA's major hospital emergency departments have the worst rates of overcrowding in Australia with one patient having to wait 45 hours to get a bed, a recent survey has found. The West

Iron ore spot price poised to jump 12%
A combination of China's growing dependency on iron ore imports and government efforts to stimulate demands will support higher than expected spot prices for up to 18 months, according to analysts. The West

Power pressure - business battles soaring energy bills
Business is grappling with massive increases in gas and electricity prices across the country, prompting warnings from some major companies that rising costs could hinder the economic recovery. The Fin Review

Harvey says signs are good after sales boost
Harvey Norman supremo Gerry Harvey is the latest retail chief to report a lift in business over the past three months and he says "all the signs are there" that the sector is over the worst of the downturn. The Courier Mail

Last rate cut for some time
Borrowers may have seen the last interest rate cuts for some time with the Reserve Bank sounding increasingly confident that an economic recovery will begin within months. Herald Sun

 

 

THE WEST AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: WA's major hospital emergency departments have the worst rates of overcrowding in Australia with one patient having to wait 45 hours to get a bed, a recent survey has found.

Page 4: North West MP Vince Catania has come under mounting pressure to quit state parliament and stand for the Nationals in a by-election after Labor MPs yesterday pulled out the knives in response to his shock defection.

Page 5: The Barnett-Grylls government was giving lobbyists Brian Burke and Julian Grill a seat at its table by allowing North West MP Vince Catania to join its alliance, opposition leader Eric Ripper warned yesterday.

Page 9: Water Minister Graham Jacobs was confronted yesterday by dozens of angry Spearwood residents who said his decision to defer a state-wide infill sewerage program was endangering their health and possible their lives.

Page 12: Just months after flagging major cuts to the public service, Treasurer Troy Buswell has warned that he will need tow wield the axe again to stop WA's finances plunging into the red.

Page 15: Households have probably seen the last of interest rate cuts this year, with the Reserve Bank sounding more upbeat about the domestic economy as more signs emerge that global markets are stabilising.

Business: A combination of China's growing dependency on iron ore imports and government efforts to stimulate demands will support higher than expected spot prices for up to 18 months, according to analysts.

Retailer Harvey Norman has highlighted the fickle nature of consumer spending, reporting sales growth more than halved in 2008-09, only to rebound by May despite the benefits of the federal government's stimulus packages being long since exhausted.

Guangdong Foreign Trade Group president Ou Guang yesterday sidestepped suggestions the detention of Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu had damaged relations between China and Australia, saying Australia remained "one of the best" sources of commodities in the world.

The Chinese company that built the Water Cube swimming centre for the Beijing Olympics hopes to raise up to $US7.3 billion ($9 billion) in the world's biggest initial public offering since March 2008.

Imdex chief executive Bernie Ridgeway said yesterday the mining services sector had survived the worst of the downturn as he unveiled a $28.4 million scrip merger with drilling technology minnow Coretrack.

Analysts do not expect rival bidders for GRD to emerge until after the target releases its half-year profit and in independent valuation of its managements businesses.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW:

Page 1: Business is grappling with massive increases in gas and electricity prices across the country, prompting warnings from some major companies that rising costs could hinder the economic recovery.

The Reserve Bank of Australia has declared that threats to the economy are receding and a recovery is likely to begin before the end of the year, fuelling speculation that interest rates have bottomed.

Page 3: Unions have dropped plans to hold a combative rally against the Rudd government's building industry reforms at the Labor Party's national conference next week in a sign they have conceded defeat on the changes.

China's largest coal producer, Shenhua Energy, is a step closer to mining coal in north-west NSW after Treasurer Wayne Swan and the Foreign Investment Review Board approved its purchase of six farms of about 2000 hectares.

Page 4: A subsidiary of sharemarket-listed Leighton Holdings, Thiess John Holland, has been forced to spend nearly a million dollars bailing out the soil handling company it hired to work on the BrisConnections road tunnel, as it seeks to avoid any more embarrassing publicity on the project.

Page 5: The Liberal-National government in Western Australia has strengthened its grip on power after Labor MP Vince Catania dropped a political bombshell by defecting to the Nationals, in a move he claimed was aimed at boosting the rural-based party's ability to increase funding to the bush.

 

THE AUSTRALIAN:

Page 1: Mining giant Rio Tinto has urged Kevin Rudd to immediately begin work on a regulatory regime allowing use of nuclear energy in Australia, arguing the viability of energy alternatives has been dramatically overstated.

The Reserve Bank has declared that the global economy is stabilising and the combination of a resurgent China, massive interest rate cuts and the government's fiscal stimulus packages has protected Australia from the worst of the easing financial crisis.

Page 2: China gave $254 million in secretive aid to Pacific island countries last year, a report released today by the Lowy Institute reveals, placing it on a par with other major donors Europe, Japan and New Zealand but well below Australia.

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett has asked Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng for better consular access for jailed Australian Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu, requested a swift resolution to the case and warned him about the attention it was getting in Australia.

China's top leaders are uncertain whether the global economy has hit bottom and have urged the nation's diplomats to play a more prominent role in driving a recovery and serving the national interest.

Page 3: Public and private schools should be funded on the same basis and given incentives to enrol students from disadvantaged backgrounds or who are struggling academically, a new report argues.

Page 4: Trade unions want Kevin Rudd to favour companies practising union-friendly industrial relations and training policies when awarding government contracts.

Kevin Rudd has appointed Howard government environment minister Robert Hill to head a new carbon trust, in a move that causes further discomfort for Malcolm Turnbull as he struggles with an opposition partyroom deeply divided on climate change.

Senior Rudd government ministers meet ACTU officials today to seek to head off a brawl at next week's Labor Party national conference over the union movement's ''Buy Australia'' procurement push.

Page 5: Despite promising to introduce a register of lobbyists in the 2006 election campaign, the Victorian government has still not set one up almost three years later.

Page 7: Western Australian opposition Leader Eric Ripper is under building pressure to reverse Labor's continual slide in the west after a spectacular defection of a sitting Labor MP to the burgeoning Nationals.

Business: China's hopes of securing cheaper iron ore contract prices from Rio and BHP have taken another hit, with Brazilian giant Vale restricting European contract prices to those agreed to by better-placed Japanese and Korean steel mills.

The owner of the Front Puffin floating oil platform, whose crew helped badly injured survivors from a burning asylum-seeker vessel earlier this year, is suing AED Oil for more than $US60 million ($73.6m) after the platform was this month ordered from the under-performing Puffin oilfield in the Timor Sea.

Here we go again. Yesterday's observation by the Reserve Bank that just moments into economic recovery Australia's export infrastructure is already nearing capacity constraints will come as no surprise to the key players in Australia's logistics chain.

A Swedish telco that offloaded a batch of loss-making businesses to Strathfield Group a month before its collapse has exited the struggling retailer, reaping $67.9 million in a series of off-market transactions.

So far this week, Dioro Exploration has announced an upgrade of reserves at its Frog's Leg goldmine in Western Australia and a possible rival takeover bid or transaction -- but to no avail, as the share price continues to track the Avoca Resources offer terms.

OZ Minerals has flagged a future as a dedicated copper miner, saying it could use the $US800 million ($986m) cash left over from the sale of all its mines, bar Prominent Hill, to make acquisitions in the red metal.

Oil Search has reported a small increase in oil and gas production in the June quarter, compared to the previous quarter, and maintained its full-year production guidance.

Furniture and electrical retailer Harvey Norman has disappointed investors with a modest rise in fourth-quarter sales after raising expectations with talk of a June sales surge.

The low-fare bonanza across the Pacific is set to continue, with United Airlines vowing to keep protecting its patch by matching any discounts offered by competitors V Australia, Qantas and Delta Airlines.

Advertisers spent almost $300 million less on free-to-air television advertising in the year to June than they did in 2007-08, according to industry revenue figures released yesterday.

Details of tax scams by Australian organisations involving US entities have been revealed in a submission sent to US authorities.

Embattled Gold Coast financier City Pacific has indicated it is unlikely to appeal against a court decision that this week handed control of its $630 million City Pacific First Mortgage Fund to rival Balmain Trilogy.

Germany's Deutsche Bank has dismissed two top executives following an internal investigation into whether the company conducted surveillance on a board member and others.

CIT Group has put the finishing touches on a $US3 billion ($3.6bn) private sector bailout plan, as new details emerged showing how the lender's long-term success may still hinge on the mercy of bank regulators.

Shares rose for a sixth straight session for the longest winning streak in 15 months, although profit-takers cut intraday gains.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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