Investors don’t like uncertainty, which often translates to either a muted or softer sharemarket.
The very nature of an election, whereby there’s a choice of government, can theoretically have an impact on stocks, but as Craig James from CommSec points out; there’s no evidence Federal election results are unambiguously positive or negative for the sharemarket in the short-term.
In each of the last four elections, what we’ve seen is what’s called a ‘U-shaped’ market reaction. The All Ordinaries Index eased by around 3.5 per cent in the three weeks before the vote, but then regained all that lost ground following the election result.
On top of that, there are no real ‘big’ market changing issues this time around. Previously, Work Choices, climate change and interest rates were topical issues, and while the Resource Super Profits Tax did have a direct impact on the market a few months ago, the new Minerals Resource Rent Tax proposal has predominantly corrected that, and seems to have provided some certainty for the sector, for now.
Craig James says that in a big picture, macro-economic sense, it matters little whether the Coalition or Labor wins power, with both sides committed to keeping the budget in surplus.
He adds that the Australian dollar is determined by market forces, while it is investors who set the prices of shares on the market. As for interest rates, the RBA sets those independently of the government.
Next week, expect all eyes to be on the official inflation numbers. Most economists are expecting a one per cent rise in the quarterly headline result, lifting annual inflation to 3.4 per cent.
But strip out seasonal increases like rises in health fund premiums and the tobacco excise and the underlying quarterly CPI is predicted to rise by around 0.8 per cent. That could be enough to see an August 3rd rate rise, smack bang in the middle of the election campaign.
A rise of 0.9 per cent, would virtually assure that the official cash rate will climb to 4.75 per cent. It’s a sentiment shared by economists at NAB, although they are expecting a modest 0.6 per cent increase in the underlying rate, while the broader money market, at this time, has priced in a 25 per cent chance of an August rate hike.
But it’s important to remember that interest rates are set independently by the Reserve Bank, and not by the government. So it doesn’t matter which party wins the election.
The New Zealand dollar declined to a week low against its Australian counterpart on optimism about economic growth in China, Australia’s largest trading partner.
The kiwi slipped as low as 87.17 Australian cents on Monday morning, and traded at 87.20 Australian cents at 8am in Wellington, from 87.68 cents on Friday.
The local currency was little changed at 80.34 US cents from the New York close of 80.43 cents, and from 79.93 on Friday in Wellington.
The New Zealand dollar, which has appreciated 13 per cent against the Australian dollar this year, gave up some of its gains after Chinese data on Friday gave investors confidence about that nation’s economy, which buoyed optimism about Australia’s prospects.
The Reserve Bank of Australia’s lack of firm guidance on further rate cuts in its statement of monetary policy is also supporting the Aussie.
“The Australian dollar has done better over the weekend than we did, on good Chinese data, particularly the industrial production side, and the RBA monetary policy statement that was less than enthusiastic on more rate cuts,” said Peter Cavanaugh, client adviser at Bancorp Treasury Services. “The New Zealand dollar’s rise was stellar and inconsistent with any new data.”
Cavanaugh said the cross rate will likely trade at these levels until given direction by new data.
On Tuesday, Australian business confidence and the pre-election fiscal update will help shape currency markets, ANZ Bank New Zealand economist Sharon Zollner said.
In New Zealand, food prices for July are released on Monday.
The New Zealand dollar advanced to 77.27 yen at 8am in Wellington from 77.06 yen on Friday. It rose to 60.24 euro from 59.72 euro and gained to 51.84 British pence from 51.42 pence. The trade-weighted index was up to 75.32 from 75.01 on Friday.
Teenage golf star Oliver Goss found plenty of reason to smile despite becoming the latest Australian sportsman to suffer defeat at English hands in 2013.
West Australian Goss, 19, was beaten 4 and 3 by England’s 18-year-old Matt Fitzpatrick in the 36-hole final of the US Amateur championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick, who was the low amateur last month in the British Open, was able to celebrate becoming the first Englishman to win the title since 1911, as well as gaining starts in next year’s Masters, US Open and British Open.
Goss gained precious consolation from knowing the beaten finalist usually also gets an invitation to play the Masters at Augusta National in April and he’s assured of a spot in the US Open in June, both provided he’s stays an amateur.
“I’ve definitely got a couple weeks that I’ll keep open in my schedule,” said Goss, who plays college golf at Tennessee.
“If someone told me at the start of the week I was going to have the opportunity to play the Masters and the US Open next year, I’d be speechless.
“I was there this year after a college tournament – we got Monday tickets to the practice round – and it was golf heaven. It’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.
“I stood there, and I was like, how do they play under this kind of pressure and with the difficulty of the golf course.
“But I’m really excited to be able to play there next year.”
Fitzpatrick never trailed in the match, taking the lead for good on the second hole of the afternoon round – the 20th of the day – and going 2 up one hole later.
Goss cut it to one on No. 9, but fell behind two again on the 10th hole when he lipped out on a 4-foot putt.
Fitzpatrick went 3 up on the 14th hole and then won the match on No.15, where he had won four of his previous five matches, when Goss was unable to make par.
Hoddle Street mass murderer Julian Knight says jail authorities’ mistaken view he is a psychopath is affecting his chances of release.
Knight complained in the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday that he is being treated differently to other murderers.
“All other cases, they’ve all progressed out of maximum security within a third of their minimum term,” he told Justice Anthony Cavanough.
Knight, who is representing himself, is in court accusing jail authorities of failing to provide him with a detailed sentencing plan to improve his chances of release.
“The treatment I’ve been subjected to is unique,” he said.
“Corrections Victoria have the mistaken belief, apparently forever, that I’m a psychopath with a personality disorder.”
He said this is affecting his progress through the prison system, and authorities are duty-bound to prepare prisoners for release.
Knight was jailed for life for killing seven people and wounding 19 in a shooting spree in Melbourne in 1987.
He will be eligible to apply for parole in May 2014.
Knight was reduced from a maximum security to a medium security prisoner in August last year.
He has been declared a vexatious litigant, meaning he is prohibited from starting legal proceedings without court permission, and is fighting jail authorities in up to 14 matters before the courts.
He argued prison authorities failed to take into account psychological reports recommending he be eventually moved to lower security arrangements and gradually integrated into the community.
But Claire Harris, for Corrections Victoria deputy commissioner Brendan Money, said authorities had considered those reports.
Ms Harris said sentencing plans were tailored to each inmate and were not fixed, depending on changing circumstances.
She said Knight’s sentencing plan was reviewed in August last year and again in last December.
The hearing is continuing.
According to the 2011 Census, couple families – that is, parents living with children – are the most common type of family household in Australia.
That’s followed by couple families without children.
And more than a quarter of all households are one-parent families.
But there has also been an increase in the number of grandparents taking care of their grandchildren.
Peggy Giakoumelos looks into it.
The traditional Australian family has always been the nuclear family – mum, dad and the kids – now known by demographers as the couple family.
But that model hasn’t always served the needs of Australians.
“We came here with no relatives around here. No network of support. We’re working full-time, both working full-time. It’s very hard. Like on the weekend sometimes we’re too busy we can’t find anyone to look after (children). If we have grandparents it’s very good for us, especially for the Chinese language. In China, people live in three generations together it’s very common. But now it’s gradually changed, but it’s still very common. Parents expect to live with kids when they get older. So parents are willing to help children to help grandkids so this is very common in China.”
Originally from China, business owner Nancy Ding is married with two children.
She says her parents came and stayed with her to help her look after her first child when he was born, but returned when he started school.
Nancy Ding says in China, multigenerational households are extremely common.
Demographer Bernard Salt is a partner with KPMG’s Property & Demographic Advisory group.
He’s taken a closer look at data from the 2011 Census looking at family household composition and says Australians are increasingly more likely to live with extended family members.
“I was looking at a number of different household arrangements and I identified the largest number and the fastest growing compared to the situation five years earlier, and the number of kids living with their grandparents had certainly increased. It was something like double digit growth over that five year period, whereas the Australian population increased by nearly 7 or 8 per cent over that period. So doing better than average as a life form, as a way in which Australians simply want to live.”
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare figures show that in 2011 more than 16,000 children were in kinship care.
This involves children being raised by their grandparents or other relatives as part of a growing trend to place at-risk children into kinship care rather than foster care.
But Bernard Salt says beyond kinship care, his analysis of the 2011 census shows an increase in the number of young Australian – many young adults – choosing to live with their grandparents rather than being forced to.
“There may well be a family bust-up, if you like, a family separation or divorce of their parents. A child in their late teens for example might find it easier to live with grandma or grandpa for a while. There is also the argument that grandchildren beyond school age might move to a different city in order to pursue job opportunities, education or training and for that reason they might be living temporarily for example with a grandparent. I think the Australian incarnation of what we see overseas where the grandparents live with the parents and the grandchildren, the Australian version is grandma/grandpa might live in a nearby unit and the grandchildren shift and shuffle between parental home, one grandparent’s home, perhaps another grandparent’s home, and there’s this constant movement based on family which is a little different to how it happens overseas, where it’s all in the one geography. We split it out over a number of properties. I think that’s how it works in Australia.”
Beyond permanent care, grandparents also provide child care for many Australian children.
ABS figures show that in 2011, 937,000 children received child care from a grandparent on a regular basis.
Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis is the Executive Director of the Ethnic Childcare Family and Community Services Cooperative.
The non-government organisation assists migrant and refugee communities with child, aged, and disability care needs.
Vivi Germanos-Koutsounadis says grandparents can play an important role when caring for their grandchildren, but this should be complemented with the structured learning of early childhood education.
“Grandparents are playing a major role in bringing up children because they do transmit the culture and the language and religion and also some of the positive traditions and also they assist the parents with childcare. However I do think that it is important for the child to also have exposure to pre-school services, and childcare services which are really wonderful in Australia. And also subsidies that the government provides so that children can attend and also to enable women to go to the workforce. Sometimes parents don’t now about the services so they don’t access them.”
Cate Kloos was born in Germany and migrated to Australia with her husband.
Finding herself feeling lonely and isolated she took matters into her own hands and set up a service called Find a Grandparent.
After a police check, the service matches up families with people who are prepared to play a grandparenting role in the family’s life.
“I’m originally from Germany. I don’t have any grandparents for my children here in Australia. And when I was pregnant with my first child, I felt quit lonely, a bit isolated and therefore I was looking for a surrogate grandparent. We found Irene a year ago and we’ve been meeting her at least once a week ever since and it worked out really well for us. I started a not-for-profit company that’s called Find a Grandparent and we connect families like ours who don’t have any grandparents with surrogate grandparents and she signed up with us and we’ve been seeing her every since.”
Every year the United Nations observes an International Day for Families.
The theme for this year is intergenerational solidarity.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the extended family plays an important role in maintaining social cohesiveness and he’s called on decision-makers to provide more support for strengthening extended family relationships.
India’s Supreme Court has dismissed a patent bid by Swiss pharmaceutical giant, Novartis.
It’s regarded as a landmark ruling with global significance, as India’s generic drug industry supplies much of the cheap medicine used in the developing world.
Biwa Kwan reports.
Novartis has fought a seven-year legal battle in India to gain patent protection for an updated version of its leukaemia-fighting drug, Glivec.
The Swiss company argued that it was in effect a new medicine, that deserved patent protection.
But the Indian Supreme Court has upheld an earlier decision that it’s only an amended version of Novartis’ earlier product, which is already out of the patent-protection period.
The ruling comes as an immediate relief to about 300,000 patients in India currently taking Glivec.
The brand name version of Glivec in India costs around $2500 per month, but the generic version is almost 15 times cheaper.
However, one senior medical oncologist in India, Meenu Walia, says the High Court ruling may discourage drug companies from introducing newer products into the local market.
“It’s a double-edged sword. They will get access to cheaper molecules but they may not get access to newer molecules if all the original research companies are not interested in putting their money in coming into the Indian market.”
One big drug company, Pfizer Inc, has reacted to the High Court ruling by saying it’s concerned with the impact on the innovation and investment environment in India.
The vice chairman of Novarti’s subsidiary in India, Ranjit Shahani, says the company will continue to file for patents, while hoping for changes to intellectual property laws.
“We will continue with our investments in India even though cautiously, new products which we launched we will ask for patents for these products and we hope that the eco system for intellectual property in the country improves.”
Health activists have hailed the Indian High Court ruling as a win for people in poorer nations to access affordable life-saving medicines.
India produces 90 percent of the $26 billion global market for generic drugs that are particularly used in the developing world.
Intellectual property expert at the Australian National University, Dr Mathew Rimmer, says the court ruling sets a precedent against the practice known as “evergreening”, under which drug manufacturers modify drugs in a bid to extend the patents on them.
“The decision of India’s Supreme Court is critically important because it emphasises that governments can take action to deal with evergreening by drug companies. And that decision is critically important for India, in terms of providing accessible and affordable medicines for the poor. But it’s also critically important because India is still a major exporter of generic medicines all around the world.”
But Mathew Rimmer says the future development of India’s generic drug export industry remains uncertain.
“I guess there’s a kind of a question about will India’s generic companies still be able to provide such a global supply of generic drugs, or whether they will be bought out or taken over or shift their kind of business. So I guess that’s the kind of larger question that is kind of unclear to me at this stage about what will happen in terms of the evolution of that particular industry.”
Auckland International Airport aims to grow earnings by up to 11 per cent next year in a four-pronged plan.
It includes a coordinated effort to attract Asian visitors to New Zealand and develop the gateway’s land into the country’s “greatest” business hub.
The airport is forecasting underlying earnings of between $160 million and $170m in the 2014 financial year, up from $153.8m in the 12 months ended June 30.
To achieve that, new chief executive Adrian Littlewood says the airport has embarked on a new five-year strategy of tourism marketing, bolstering its consumer business, sharpening up productivity, and rolling out some new investment, such as developing its extensive property holdings.
At an investor briefing, Mr Littlewood said property development has been a “really tough” market over the past five years.
Auckland Airport has set aside about 300 hectares of its 1,500 hectares of available land for commercial development in a 30-year plan, he told BusinessDesk.
“More clients we talk to want a lot more proximity to the airport,” he said.
“And the more the city grows, the closer it gets to the airport.”
The airport’s investment property portfolio was valued at $635.9m as at June 30, up from $579.8m a year earlier, and the unit delivered a 13 per cent lift in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) of $34.6m.
Mr Littlewood said the airport operator was seeing signs of life in international passenger movements, which slipped 0.2 per cent in the 12 months ended June 30, including transits.
Government figures on Wednesday showed visitor arrivals rose six per cent in July from a year earlier to a record for that month.
The airport’s aeronautical unit lifted Ebitda 4.8 per cent to $156.3m, representing 45 per cent of earnings.
Because New Zealand is a relatively small market with few leading tourism operators, Auckland Airport is taking a lead role in trying to attract international visitors, Littlewood said.
The gateway has been working with Immigration New Zealand to make it easier for Chinese travellers to get a visa, and it has linked up with Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo in a bid to turn browsing interest in visiting New Zealand into actual sales.
Auckland Airport reported a lift in net profit to $178m, in the 12 months ended June 30 from $142.3m.
Charging veteran Essendon club doctor Bruce Reid with bringing the AFL into disrepute is like putting a big gun in front of Bambi, says legendary coach Kevin Sheedy.
Former Bombers mentor Sheedy was reluctant on Wednesday to discuss the charges brought by the AFL against Essendon, their coach James Hird, Reid and two other senior officials as he didn’t know the content of the ASADA interim report they were based on.
But he threw his support behind long-time colleague Reid as Essendon and the four officials prepare to contest charges of bringing the game into disrepute over the club’s 2011-12 supplements program.
“Bruce Reid is my own family doctor and I’ve known him for nearly 40 years,” said Sheedy, who worked alongside Reid for all but the first year of his 27-year coaching reign at Essendon that yielded four premierships.
“He is well respected. It’s like putting a big gun in front of Bambi on this one.
“But good luck, because most people know the calibre of Bruce Reid.”
Sheedy believed Hird would be undaunted as he fights to save his reputation and job as coach of Essendon.
The commission has sweeping powers and can suspend Hird if it finds him guilty, as well as stripping Essendon of premiership points and taking away draft picks.
Hird has remained cool, composed and adamant of his innocence throughout the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority’s seven-month investigation of the supplements program.
Sheedy said Hird would continue to use the same courage he displayed on the field to battle the AFL and the charge against him.
“A young man like James Hird runs out there, has his skull fractured in five or six places, then has the courage to come back,” Sheedy said.
“He’s always shown an enormous amount of courage.
“You’ve got to be very courageous to take on the AFL in this matter, and that’s what he’s going to do.”
Karen Lunn is ending her 29-year professional playing career to return home for a new job as executive director of the Australian Ladies’ Professional Golf Tour (ALPG).
Lunn, 47, is also giving up her role as chairman of the Ladies European Tour (LET), which she’s held for the last nine years.
Sydney-born Lunn won 10 tournaments on the LET, including the 1993 Women’s British Open, as well as four wins on the Australian tour and one each in Thailand and Malaysia.
ALPG president Shani Waugh was delighted to make the new appointment from a list of more than 65 applicants.
“We are very excited to welcome Karen home,” said Waugh.
“Karen’s playing experience, combined with her knowledge gained through working diligently as part of the Ladies European Tour (LET) Board for the past 14 years places her in a wonderful position to lead the ALPG.”
“The characteristics Karen displayed as a player – determined, persistent, strong and skilful will hold her in good stead in her new role.”
A “delighted” Lunn relished the chance to contribute even more to golf in her home country.
“I can’t wait to get started,” said Lunn.
“I have been involved with ladies golf at a professional level for more than 28 years, having been a player, a mentor, a TV commentator, and also chairman of the board of the Ladies European Tour for the past nine years.
“My passion for the game and for the ALPG has never been stronger and I look forward to working closely with the ALPG Board in exploring new opportunities and initiatives for all our members, as well as working with our current stakeholders to continue to improve the exposure and growth of women’s professional golf in Australia.”
Lunn starts her new role on September 9.
There is a view among linguists that Australia is the world leader in killing languages: it’s thought 93 per cent of Australia’s indigenous languages have died.
But a new plan is underway to try to save the endangered Barngarla language on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.
An Israeli-born linguist is spearheading the scheme, which it’s hoped will revive words which otherwise would have died out within years.
Andy Park has the details.
Umewarra mission in outback South Australia is as run down now as the local language that was once forbidden to be spoken inside.
Many nearby Aboriginal children were brought here, like Barngarla man Harry Dare.
“There was three sisters and four other brothers. We were all in this hut.”
Steve Atkinson’s mother was brought here too, his only link to the Barngala language.
“There’s no doubt that this place contributed to the decline of Bangala for my mother.”
Last century’s forced adoption policies saw members of the Stolen Generation taken to missions like this mission, just outside Port Augusta, effectively putting distance between them and their language.
But while Bangarla fell silent at places like this, over in town, there’s a place where those dormant words are coming back to life.
Barngala’s reclamation is beginning at the old Port Augusta School of the Air.
Ghil’ad Zuckermann, an Israeli-born linguist, is professor of endangered languages at the University of Adelaide.
His bold plan is to help revive the language, using the memories of the elders and a 170 year-old dictionary, made by the first Lutheran missionaries.
“Out of 250 languages, 93 per cent of languages either fell asleep already, so they are hibernating, dormant like Barngarla, or they are about to fall asleep.”
The community here hopes they can revive Barngarla in everyday situations.
“You know people without a language often are people who lost their heritage, their intellectual sovereignty, their cultural autonomy. So there is this feeling of wellbeing which is related to language reclamation.”
Barngala man Steve Atkinson.
“It’s an overwhelming experience, because having my mother lose her language, and now me being part of rebuilding and reviving that language is an emotional thing, so I’m proud to be part of it and hopefully to do my mother and my ancestors proud.”
And an extended report on the Barngala language project will feature in this week’s Living Black program on NITV at 7.30 pm on Tuesday. with a repeat on Sunday at 1.30 pm on SBS ONE.