Bank loan losses to reduce dividends

Original article by Richard Gluyas
The Australian – Page: 21 : 24-Apr-19

Citigroup has downplayed investors’ concerns about the high dividend payout ratios of Australia’ major banks. Brendan Sproule of Citigroup says banks are likely to absorb one-off costs rather than reduce their payout ratios. Instead, a sharp increase in loan losses is seen to be the main threat to continued high dividend ratios. Sproules adds that the Reserve Bank of New Zealand’s review of its bank capital framework is unlikely to impact on Australia’s major banks.

CORPORATES
CITIGROUP PTY LTD, BELL POTTER SECURITIES LIMITED, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, RESERVE BANK OF NEW ZEALAND

Reserve Bank ready to cut rates

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 19 & 26 : 17-Apr-19

The minutes of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly board meeting indicate that the central bank still expects gradual progress in lifting the inflation rate to its target range and reducing the unemployment rate. However, the minutes show that the RBA would be prepared to reduce the cash rate if inflation remains low and unemployment increases. The Australian dollar fell to a two-week low of $US0.714 in local trading in response to the release of the RBA’s minutes.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, JP MORGAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED

CBA underpays 8000 staff after HR tech system failure

Original article by James Eyers
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 18 : 17-Apr-19

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has advised that current and former employees have received some $4.8m in back pay to date, including interest. Problems with the bank’s human resources technology systems resulted in about 8,000 employees being underpaid. Julia Angrisano, the national secretary of the Finance Sector Union, says the bank and its Bankwest subsidiary may ultimately have to repay between $10m and $15m, although CBA believes that the final figure will be much lower. Some employees are also believed to have been paid at below-award rates.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, BANKWEST, FINANCE SECTOR UNION

AMP’s reputation hit harder than big banks

Original article by Jessica Gardner
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 16 : 16-Apr-19

The rankings of the four major banks and AMP have fallen sharply in the latest corporate reputation index, which is compiled by the Reputation Institute. AMP has fallen 18 places in the annual index, and now ranks last in the list of 60 companies. Oliver Freedman of the Reputation Institute notes that AMP’s corporate reputation has not improved since the Hayne royal commission exposed misconduct at the financial services group in 2018. He adds that AMP and the banks must work harder to restore their reputations.

CORPORATES
AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, WESTPAC BANKING CORPORATION – ASX WBC, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, REPUTATION INSTITUTE PTY LTD, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY, WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW

Rate cut to avoid poll date as economy becomes battleground

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 19 & 29 : 12-Apr-19

Financial markets have priced in a 25 basis point reduction in official interest rates by October, although the chances of a rate cut during the federal election campaign are seen to be low. Meanwhile, Shane Oliver of AMP Capital says historical analysis shows that movements in global sharemarkets tend to have a bigger impact on the local bourse than the outcome of a federal election. However, he notes that Labor’s policies such as income tax and franking credit reforms may weigh on shares and the Australian dollar.

CORPORATES
AMP CAPITAL INVESTORS LIMITED, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, CITIGROUP PTY LTD, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, STANDARD AND POOR’S ASX 200 INDEX

S&P concerned big banks may lose support in a crisis

Original article by James Eyers
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 15 & 20 : 10-Apr-19

A report from S&P Global Ratings says the federal government is likely to remain "highly supportive" of Australia’s major banks in the event of a crisis. However, the ratings agency adds that there is a one-in-three chance that the government will change its position to "supportive" over the next two years. Any change in the government’s level of support for the major banks would most likely prompt their credit ratings to be downgraded, which in turn would increase their funding costs.

CORPORATES
S&P GLOBAL RATINGS, AUSTRALIAN PRUDENTIAL REGULATION AUTHORITY, COUNCIL OF FINANCIAL REGULATORS

CBA’s Colonial buy cost shareholders $54b

Original article by Jonathan Shapiro
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 : 9-Apr-19

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia paid $11 billion for Colonial in 2000, but fund manager Merlon Capital Partners contends that the purchase wasted over $50 billion in shareholder capital. Merlon argues that the CBA’s purchase of Colonial did not create value for its stockholders, and that it demonstrates the need for shareholders to have a greater say about large acquisitions. Merlon has previously been critical of AMP’s 2018 decision to sell its life insurance business.

CORPORATES
COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, COLONIAL LIMITED, MERLON CAPITAL PARTNERS PTY LTD, AMP LIMITED – ASX AMP

ANZ set for growth as it turns corner in Asia

Original article by James Eyers
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 & 20 : 5-Apr-19

The ANZ Bank has been progressively rebuilding its institutional banking business in Asia, which has been its key focus in the region since abandoning retail banking growth plans. ANZ now boasts about 6,500 institutional customers in Asia, compared with some 28,000 at its peak, while staff numbers in the region have been reduced from 8,000 to 6,000 and there was a 16 per cent reduction in costs during 2017-18.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ, HSBC HOLDINGS PLC, STANDARD CHARTERED BANK PLC, CITIGROUP INCORPORATED, GREENWICH ASSOCIATES PTY LTD

Market backs rate cuts over fiscal stimulus

Original article by Sarah Turner
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 9 : 4-Apr-19

The April 2019 Budget has not had much impact on monetary policy expectations, with financial markets still pricing in two interest rate cuts by August 2020. Sally Auld of JP Morgan says the Budget’s fiscal stimulus measures are unlikely to completely offset the impact of factors such as the downturn in housing prices, slowing construction activity and weak growth in real incomes. Meanwhile, economists are more bearish about the economic growth outlook than the Treasury.

CORPORATES
JP MORGAN AUSTRALIA LIMITED, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF THE TREASURY, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, COMMONWEALTH BANK OF AUSTRALIA – ASX CBA, RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

Interest rates on hold, but cuts on the cards

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 47 : 3-Apr-19

The Reserve Bank of Australia has signalled that it remains open to monetary policy stimulus if economic conditions justify such action, while keeping the cash unchanged at 1.5 per cent for a 32nd consecutive month. Central bank governor Philip Lowe has also noted a slowdown in global economic growth and an increase in downside risks. Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics expects official interest rates to be reduced in the near-term.

CORPORATES
RESERVE BANK OF AUSTRALIA, CAPITAL ECONOMICS LIMITED, NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB