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THE NEWS WRAP: Coles looks to extend “approved” field agent program to convenience stores and liquor

7:36PM | Sunday, 7 July

Wesfarmers-owned supermarket giant Coles is examining the possibility of extending its proposed ‘licenced’ field agent plan to its Coles Express convenience stores and liquor store chains, including Liquorland, First Choice and Vintage Cellars.   Under the proposal, independent “field agents”, who currently act as representatives of suppliers, would need to be “approved” by the supermarket giant in a move expected to reduce fees.   “Most of our large and medium suppliers maintain a significant field force to visit our stores on a weekly basis. Up to 30 field reps visit our stores in a day,” a leaked Coles tender document states.   “To resolve all these issues, Coles is exploring options for creating a panel of third-party field force companies that could be used by our suppliers.”   Mining industry urges end to “green tape” duplication   The mining industry is urging the federal government to cut “green tape”, claiming the duplication of approvals processes between the federal and state governments delays projects and adds costs for little environmental benefit.   “A study by the Australian National University shows that in the first 10 years of the operation of the commonwealth's project approval laws under the EPBC Act, an extra $820 million had been added to the cost of approvals for no extra environmental protection," said Minerals Council of Australia chief executive Mitch Hooke.   "There is ongoing demand for Australia's resources but unless we dramatically improve our approvals system and policy settings more generally, we risk missing the boat.”   Greece looks to secure next $10.4 billion bailout tranche   Greece is in talks with representatives from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund in order to secure the next $10.4 billion tranche of its bailout package.   While it is likely the negotiations will succeed successfully over the coming days, the bailout is subject to commitments to economic reforms, including a further 12,500 public servants being placed in a “mobility scheme” from which they will either be transferred or made redundant within a year.   “The ball is in the Greek court and it depends on whether Greece is able to deliver the remaining elements of the milestones that have been agreed,” EU Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 1% to 15135.8. The Aussie dollar is down to US90.51 cents.

The News Wrap: James Packer’s Sydney casino project progresses to next stage

7:30PM | Thursday, 4 July

James Packer’s proposal to build a six-star hotel and high roller casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo has been waved through to the next stage of the NSW government’s approval process, beating out rival Echo Entertainment’s plans to redevelop its own casino, The Star.   Echo is expected to push ahead with some of its redevelopment plans and push its VIP business harder, despite losing its bid to block Packer’s plans.   “The committee think it is likely that Echo would be motivated to undertake at least some of its published strategic investment plans in response to the introduction of competition, whether its proposal was successful or not,” the committee assessing the proposals said in a report.   Gas policies needed   State and federal governments need to consider policies to ensure Australia’s domestic gas market is not hurt as large export liquid natural gas projects begin to soak up the resource, The Australian reports.   The Australian Pipeline Industry Association argues in a position paper that governments need to consider forward-thinking policies to ensure Australia makes the most of its gas reserves.     It warns that policies are needed to avoid the potential for “market failure” with unsustainably high gas prices in domestic markets that would hurt the manufacturing, agriculture and construction sectors.   European Central Bank to keep interest rates down   The European Central Bank has broken with precedent and declared it would keep interest rates at record lows for an extended period and could cut further because of market volatility since the US Federal Reserve said planned to slow its stimulus measures.   “The Governing Council expects the key ECB rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time," ECB president Mario Draghi told a news conference after the ECB left interest rates at 0.5%, calling it a "very significant step".   Draghi did not say exactly how long ECB rates would stay at record lows. "It's not six months, it's not 12 months. It's an extended period of time."   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.38% at 14,988.55 points. The Australian dollar is down 0.04% at US91.44 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Gillard opens door to compromise as media reforms falter

3:28PM | Monday, 18 March

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is fighting to keep proposed media reforms alive, following an interview on the ABC’s Lateline program where independent Tony Windsor expressed concerns about the package.   "I don't think the numbers are there for a great portion of this to get through," Windsor said.   Meanwhile, Fairfax media reports that the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler, and Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr have shifted their support away from Prime Minister Julia Gillard towards leadership rival Kevin Rudd.   Cyprus crisis shakes Australian markets   The government of Cyprus has postponed a vote on a controversial tax on savings, which forms part of its austerity package, leading to more than 2% being wiped off the value of Australian shares.   The vote would have ratified a deal struck between Cyprus, the IMF, the European Central Bank and other lenders to levy a once-off tax on all bank deposits of 6.75% for amounts up to €100,000 ($A124,000) and 9.9% for deposits above €100,000 as part of a bailout package.   ASIC report says high speed trading risk is overstated   The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has released its report into computerised high speed trading.   While the report from the corporate regulator recommends some reforms, it also finds that the impact of the practice in Australia has largely been overstated.   “There is a belief by some that high-frequency trading is manipulative in a legal sense, or at least predatory in nature, and there is a perception that high-frequency traders uniformly have less regard for market integrity. That perception is not supported by our study,” the report states.   Overnight   In New York, the S&P500 is down 0.64% to 1550.65. The Aussie dollar is up to US1.0391 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Clive Palmer lashes out at "intellectual pygmy" Wayne Swan

3:12PM | Sunday, 4 March

Mining magnate Clive Palmer has hit back at Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan, claiming that he is an “intellectual pygmy” and that he doesn’t understand the economy.

Leading Aussie stocks fall by 3.7% on debt fears

9:10PM | Monday, 12 September

More than $45 billion was wiped off the value of Australian stocks yesterday, as global economic woes again haunted investors.

THE NEWS WRAP: Emergency talks held over Eurozone debt crisis

8:53PM | Sunday, 7 August

European financial chiefs have held emergency talks over whether to prevent Italy and Spain being dragged into the debt crisis that has fuelled turmoil across global markets.

THE NEWS WRAP: Greek debt crisis shakes markets

6:29PM | Thursday, 16 June

The Australian sharemarket fell 1.9% to a nine-month low yesterday and is now almost 10% below its peak in April this year, amid renewed concerns about the Greek debt crisis.

THE NEWS WRAP: Kogan launches Tradeleaks site

12:15AM | Friday, 17 December

Australian internet entrepreneur Ruslan Kogan has unveiled TradeLeaks.com, an ambitious whistle-blowing website designed to make retail and trade more transparent. Kogan says the website will do to trade and commerce what WikiLeaks has done to politics.

THE NEWS WRAP: Gina Rinehart emerges as a 10% shareholder in Ten Network

12:59AM | Monday, 6 December

Australia’s richest woman, Gina Rinehart, has shocked the business world by emerging as a 10% shareholder in television group Ten Network. Rinehart, who inherited mining company Hancock Prospecting from her father Lang Hancock, is best known for her interests in iron ore and coal. But a statement from Hancock Prospecting says the company has been looking to invest in the media sector for some time.

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