State surpluses on the slide as spending lifts

Original article by Anthony Klan, Brad Norington
The Australian – Page: 5 : 19-Dec-18

The New South Wales government’s mid-year budget review shows that it now expects to post a surplus of $1.1bn for 2018-19, compared with a forecast surplus of $1.4bn in the June 2018 Budget. The government has also scaled back the projected surpluses for the following three financial years. A $4.04bn increase in government spending over the next four years is the major contributor to the lower surplus forecasts. The downturn in Sydney’s property market is expected to result in stamp duty revenue falling $2.5 billion over four years.

CORPORATES
NEW SOUTH WALES. THE TREASURY

Super members on track for first loss since 2011

Original article by Samantha Bailey
The Australian – Page: 13 & 18 : 19-Dec-18

Data from SuperRatings shows that the median balanced superannuation fund has gained just 1.8 per cent so far in 2018. The firm says the median fund is likely to post a negative return for the full year, after shedding 3.1 per cent in October and 0.6 per cent in November. SuperRatings’ executive director Kirby Rappell says the market volatility of recent months is likely to continue in 2019. However, SuperRatings notes that balanced funds have delivered strong returns over a 10-year period.

CORPORATES
SUPERRATINGS PTY LTD, STANDARD AND POOR’S ASX 200 INDEX

Coal demand resilient in face of risks

Original article by Angela Macdonald-Smith
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 17 : 19-Dec-18

A new report from the International Energy Agency shows that coal-fired power generation increased by three per cent in 2017 and is expected to grow again in 2018. The IEA’s annual coal outlook also notes that coal’s share of the global energy mix was steady at 38 per cent in 2017. IEA executive director Fatih Birol says coal will remain a major source of power generation for some time. Meanwhile, the IEA forecasts that Australia’s thermal coal exports will rise over the next five years.

CORPORATES
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY, ADANI MINING PTY LTD

NAB insists its breaches were not criminal acts

Original article by Ben Butler
The Australian – Page: 13 & 18 : 19-Dec-18

National Australia Bank has conceded that its MLC Nominees subsidiary had breached the Corporations Act and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act. The breaches related to so-called plan service fees that the superannuation trustee company had imposed on customers despite not providing any services. NAB has acknowledged in court filings that MLC Nominees’ actions constituted misleading or deceptive conduct. The Australian Securities & Investments Commission launched legal action against NAB in September.

CORPORATES
NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK LIMITED – ASX NAB, MLC NOMINEES, AUSTRALIAN SECURITIES AND INVESTMENTS COMMISSION, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA, NULIS NOMINEES AUSTRALIA LIMITED, AUSTRALIA. ROYAL COMMISSION INTO MISCONDUCT IN THE BANKING, SUPERANNUATION AND FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

Labor’s boost to union power alarms business

Original article by Phillip Coorey
The Australian Financial Review – Page: 1 & 4 : 19-Dec-18

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has told Labor’s national conference that the enterprise bargaining system is not working. The national conference has endorsed a new industrial relations policy platform which includes the reinstatement of industry-wide enterprise bargaining. Shorten has also committed to reversing penalty rate cuts and abolishing the Australian Building & Construction Commission and the Registered Organisations Commission if Labor wins the 2019 election. Employer groups have urged Labor to clarify whether pattern bargaining will be restricted to low-paid workers or if it will apply across the economy.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, AUSTRALIAN BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION COMMISSION, AUSTRALIA. REGISTERED ORGANISATIONS COMMISSION, THE AUSTRALIAN INDUSTRY GROUP, AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY, AUSTRALIA. FAIR WORK COMMISSION, ACTU, AUSTRALIA. DEPT OF JOBS AND SMALL BUSINESS, AUSTRALIAN WORKERS’ UNION-FEDERATION OF INDUSTRIAL, MANUFACTURING AND ENGINEERING EMPLOYEES

BHP class action down to one

Original article by Ben Butler
The Australian – Page: 15 : 19-Dec-18

The Federal Court has ruled that Phi Finney McDonald’s class action against BHP over the Samarco tailings dam disaster in Brazil can proceed. Rival law firms Maurice Blackburn and Johnson Winter & Slattery had also proposed class actions against the resources group, but Justice Mark Moshinsky expressed a preference for Phi Finney McDonald’s funding model. He also noted that the firm’s case was more advanced in terms of preparation.

CORPORATES
BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, PHI FINNEY McDONALD PTY LTD, MAURICE BLACKBURN PTY LTD, FEDERAL COURT OF AUSTRALIA, VALE SA, G&E KTMC FUNDING, HARBOUR FUND IV, ROBBINS GELLER RUDMAN AND DOWD LLP, LOS ANGELES COUNTY EMPLOYEES’ RETIREMENT ASSOCIATION

REA boss Wilson pins growth hopes on Asia

Original article by John Durie
The Australian – Page: 15 : 19-Dec-18

REA Group’s incoming CEO Owen Wilson says that continuing to provide value to customers and consumers will be his priority. Wilson also wants to expand the property listings group’s Asian operations, which currently account for about eight per cent of group revenue. Wilson will succeed Tracey Fellows, who will remain on REA’s board after becoming president of News Corporation’s Global Digital Real Estate business. News Corp has a controlling stake in REA.

CORPORATES
REA GROUP LIMITED – ASX REA, NEWS CORPORATION – ASX NWS, NEWS CORP AUSTRALIA PTY LTD, REALESTATE.COM.AU, DOMAIN HOLDINGS AUSTRALIA LIMITED – ASX DHA, FAIRFAX MEDIA LIMITED, NINE ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY HOLDINGS LIMITED – ASX NEC, GOOGLE INCORPORATED, FACEBOOK INCORPORATED, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ

Major funds bracing for bear market

Original article by David Rogers
The Australian – Page: 13 & 18 : 19-Dec-18

Sharemarkets in Australia and Asia fell sharply on 18 December, in response to bearish sentiment on Wall Street. The S&P/ASX 200 has shed more than 7.4 per cent so far in 2018, and it is on track to record its biggest fall for the December quarter since 2008. Magellan Financial Group and WAM Capital have maintain a high level of cash holdings, although Randal Jenneke of T. Rowe Price sees the market volatility as a selective buying opportunity.

CORPORATES
STANDARD AND POOR’S ASX 200 INDEX, MAGELLAN FINANCIAL GROUP LIMITED – ASX MFG, WAM CAPITAL LIMITED – ASX WAM, T ROWE PRICE GROUP INCORPORATED, STANDARD AND POOR’S 500 INDEX, SHANGHAI COMPOSITE INDEX, NIKKEI 225 INDEX, RELIANCE WORLDWIDE CORPORATION LIMITED – ASX RWC, JAMES HARDIE INDUSTRIES PLC – ASX JHX, BHP GROUP LIMITED – ASX BHP, WOOLWORTHS GROUP LIMITED – ASX WOW, AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence levels to 117.8

Original article by Roy Morgan
Market Research Update – Page: Online : 19-Dec-18

ANZ-Roy Morgan Australian Consumer Confidence rose 0.1% to 117.8 in the week ended 16 December, essentially unchanged from the previous week. Households’ views towards current financial conditions fell 2%, while future financial condition were flat. Consumers’ views toward current economic conditions rose 0.2%, but future economic conditions fell 0.9%. The ‘time to buy a household item’ sub-index rose 2.7%.

CORPORATES
ROY MORGAN LIMITED, AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BANKING GROUP LIMITED – ASX ANZ

Shorten at Chinese fundraiser behind ICAC’s raid

Original article by Brad Norington
The Australian – Page: 1 & 2 : 19-Dec-18

The Independent Commission Against Corruption raided the Sydney headquarter of Labor’s New South Wales branch on 18 December. The raid is believed to relate to a Chinese Friends of Labor fundraising dinner that was held prior to the 2015 state election. Several federal Labor MPs were at the function, including Opposition Leader Bill Shorten. Chinese property developer Huang Xiangmo was also present at the dinner. He later attracted scrutiny over his links to former Labor senator Sam Dastyari. Property developers were banned from making donations to NSW political parties at the time of the dinner.

CORPORATES
AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY, CHINESE FRIENDS OF LABOR, NEW SOUTH WALES. INDEPENDENT COMMISSION AGAINST CORRUPTION, ELECTORAL COMMISSION OF NEW SOUTH WALES, AUSTRALIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION, AUSTRALIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE ORGANISATION