Business News Abroad and in Australia - Talking Business 2011 Ep 17c

A review of the week in business, with expert analysis and commentary

Leon and Garry talk about the prospect of French finance minister Christine Largarde taking the top job at the IMF, the crisis in Europe with Greece struggling with restructuring, turning it into a political problem and China's ratings agency, Dagong, downgrading Britain from AAA to AA+. Meanwhile in Australia, banks have been hammered by an investor sell off as European debt concerns and Chinese data spooked investors. Goldman Sachs has downgraded its investment view on Australia’s banking sector. National Australia Bank Ltd plans to take the pricing war between the major banks to a new level by offering discounted mortgages online. Australia's four major banks will not fund a planned coal-fuelled power plant at Morwell in Victoria, while environment groups plan to take legal action against the plant's approval by the Environment Protection Authority. Arrears on mortgage repayments spiked to a record high in the first three months of 2011, as more Australians struggle with rising costs. But Australia's economy is set to accelerate as exports recover from disruptions caused by extensive flooding early in 2011 and the mining sector continues to boom, according to the OECD. Business investment rose solidly last quarter as firms spent heavily on machinery and building, while spending plans for the next fiscal year were upgraded to a fresh record high in an upbeat sign for future growth. The government's corporate advisory body has urged Canberra to steer clear of another overhaul of executive pay laws, instead calling for improved disclosure. Construction work edged higher in the first quarter, but was below market expectations as non-residential work fell heavily, according to the ABS. There might be signs of recovery with retail sales environment in Australia showing signs of life and retail sales in the US have improved "enormously", according to Westfield Group executives. Goldman Sachs has tempered its growth outlook for China, citing a combination of high oil prices, supply constraints and a recent string of weak data. Australia will get the world’s first floating LNG facility. Royal Dutch Shell has taken the investment decision to make the largest floating structure ever built. Woodside Petroleum's plan to expand its $14 billion Pluto LNG project has been bolstered by another gas find off Australia's west coast. Wesfarmers has downgraded its forecast production at the Curragh metallurgical coal mine to a range of 5.1 to 5.4 million tonnes. The strong Australian dollar and catastrophic weather conditions have led rural services business Elders to post a first-half net loss and lower its full-year profit expectations.

Media File: 
iTunes Category: 
Garry Barker and Leon Gettler