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ASB Securities Morning Brief for Friday, 16 March 2012

New Zealand Headlines

NZ Market Report. New Zealand shares rose, extending the NZX 50 index's unbroken run through March as investors bought Telecom for its yield... Read more

Steps to make Auckland port workers redundant and engage contractors to handle stevedoring work have been halted pending a court hearing on Monday over legal action brought by the Maritime Union... Read more

Labour Party leader David Shearer used his first major speech since taking the reins after last November’s election defeat to promise a new urgency in fixing intractable and long-known problems with New Zealand’s economy... Read more

New Zealand consumer confidence eased in March as cautious consumers remained focused on debt. Confidence in Canterbury rose to the highest since before the earthquakes... Read more

The quality of implementation will be the true test of the public sector reforms announced by Prime Minister John Key in Auckland today, says the head of Business New Zealand, Phil O’Reilly.... Read more

Rising political powerhouse Steven Joyce will become a "Super Minister" leading a new agency that aims to build a more business-focused Government arm.... Read more

Business leaders have welcomed plans to streamline business-facing ministries, hoping the need for multiple interactions will be replaced by favourable policy development... Read more

Property investors are surprised and concerned about the implications of the Department of Building and Housing being merged with the ministries of Labour, Economic Development and Science and Innovation... Read more

New Zealand company directors are underpaid and the low pay is affecting the quality and diversity of people willing to sit on boards, a high profile independent director says... Read more

The government will lower its cap on the total number of core public servants to 36,475 from 39,000 in a move that threatens no jobs directly since total numbers are already below that level... Read more

The Supreme Court has turned down Fonterra Cooperative Group’s appeal against a ruling it must supply raw milk to rivals even if they don’t process it themselves... Read more

New Zealand’s manufacturing sector recorded its highest level of activity in almost two years and a record for the month of, led by metal production and machinery... Read more

A barometer of manufacturing is pointing to fairer weather ahead for the sector... Read more

Productivity languished in the year to March 2011, with labour productivity slipping, the capital-to-labour ratio declining and multi-factor productivity unchanged... Read more

Rural services firm PGG Wrightson is warning shareholders about a lowball offer for their shares from Australian trader John Armour... Read more

Fisher Funds, which has more than $1 billion under management, has added another 4,000 members to its KiwiSaver scheme after announcing a partnership with the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions... Read more

Trade Me shares have hit a record high of $3.40 on the New Zealand sharemarket after the online auction site said it was increasing its listing fees... Read more

Explorer Glass Earth says it has found "encouraging" signs of gold on the fringe of kiwifruit country... Read more

Winegrowers say their industry is fragile and under siege.... Read more

New Zealand job advertisements in newspapers and online rose 5.3 percent in February bouncing back from consecutive falls in January and December, ANZ Bank said... Read more

A director whose gold bullion firm failed owing investors nearly $3 million is described by the company's liquidator as a "pretty naive'' businessman whose conduct raises serious questions.... Read more

Kelly Tarlton's British owners are spending $5.5 million to expand the aquarium's viewing space and introduce new features... Read more

Sharechat Comment. GuocoLeisure was formerly known as Brierley Investments however Sir Ron Brierley retired from the Board in March 2001 and the company has since changed its name to GuocoLeisure in October 2007. Today it bears little resemblance to the company it once was... Read more

Barry Brill. One thing is quite clear - "clean green" is not this country's brand. It isn't a brand at all, says a Government Advisory Group reporting on "Greening New Zealand's Growth"... Read more

Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report. Shares slipped, retreating from two-week highs as big miners fell after Beijing said it needed to embrace slower growth... Read more

Myer warns that unless the sales trend across its network of stores improves the group will struggle to lift earnings.... Read more

Myer boss Bernie Brookes has tried to paint a rosy picture for the struggling department store chain's future despite forecasting flagging sales and earnings... Read more

The retail sector is facing a growing crisis which will dwarf the problems experienced in the manufacturing sector, the National Retail Association warns.... Read more

The Coalition has attacked the handling of the appointment of David Gonski to head the Future Fund after board members endorsed former treasurer Peter Costello... Read more

The federal government has condemned pharmacists for threatening to run down their stock of essential medicines before a subsidy cut takes effect next month... Read more

The Government dismisses Clive Palmer's threat to challenge the carbon pricing scheme in the High Court as an exercise in "self-interest"... Read more

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has rejected reports shopping centre giant Westfield is introducing a charge clause in lease agreements for its onsite retailers to offset the impact of Labor's carbon tax.... Read more

The Nationals senator Barnaby Joyce is pushing for even tougher restrictions on foreign ownership of farmland and agribusinesses than those advocated by his party... Read more

Resources companies in Western Australia's north are bracing for Tropical Cyclone Lua, which is expected to intensify as it approaches the Pilbara coast... Read more

National Australia Bank has sold its entire exposure in debt-ridden Nine Entertainment at 86 to 87 per cent of par value, banking sources say... Read more

Indonesia is on the verge of announcing a big lift in the quota for live cattle imports from Australia... Read more

Fortescue Metals Group hopes to boast an investment-grade credit rating within a year... Read more

Centro's debt levels available to investors before statement to the ASX triggered share crash, lawyers say... Read more

Just how hot to trot is Australia's booming energy, mining and utilities sector?... Read more

Australia in box seat to take advantage of Indian demand for coking coal, Reserve Bank research suggests... Read more

Work to build the Inpex gas plant in Darwin will start next month... Read more

Lawyers for Ausdrill chief Ron Sayers and Barminco founder Peter Bartlett have been given more time to examine allegations that the millionaire businessmen engaged in a tax fraud conspiracy.... Read more

Financial planners win 12-month reprieve from the government's Future of Financial Advice reforms... Read more

In yet another blow to the embattled heavy industry of Wollongong, OneSteel will shed nearly 60 jobs following its decision to close its oil and gas pipe manufacturing business at Kembla Grange... Read more

Millions of dollars of cargo at Fremantle Port will be held up as industrial strife returns to the wharves with a 48-hour strike by 150 Patrick stevedores from today... Read more

A former general manager at a BHP Billiton mine was given permission to donate a transportable home to a local sporting club before he was dismissed for failing to follow company asset disposal procedures, the Supreme Court has been told... Read more

Television's advertising revenue has grown at double the rate of print companies in the last decade... Read more

Apple Inc's new iPad went on sale in Australia early on Friday, greeted by throngs of fans hungry to get hold of the U.S. consumer giant's latest 4G-ready tablet computer... Read more

Sales of new motor vehicles in Australia were virtually unchanged in February, official data shows... Read more

When Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron acquired a bundle of discount retail brands such as Go-Lo and Sam's Warehouse from administration nearly three years ago, the plan was for immediate expansion, adding as many as 70 stores to the 350 she gained... Read more

Group buying site and Hungry Jack's team up to sell more than half a million fast food vouchers for just $2 a pop... Read more

Beer brand XXXX Gold leases six-hectare island in Southern Great Barrier Reef for marketing initiative... Read more

Elizabeth Knight. When Myer bought the cutting edge fashion label sass & bide last year, there was a lot of sniggering from the traditionally bitchy retail industry... Read more

Malcolm Maiden. The Victorian government's half-year budget is not such an under-performance as it appears at first glance... Read more

Ian McIlwraith. In their response to Greg Smith's scathing attack on the bank, Goldman Sachs bosses manage to not once mention his name... Read more

Stephen Bartholomeusz. Despite Gerry Harvey's claims that he does indeed 'get' online retail, Myer's Bernie Brookes looks comparatively much more likely to develop a reasonable presence as the online market grows... Read more

Alan Kohler. If Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson is right, the budget black hole is now vastly larger than it was in November and both Joe Hockey and Wayne Swan are about to be mugged by reality... Read more

Michael West. In the tradition of one of the great banking lurks - cheques taking five days to clear - the share registry company Computershare has long enjoyed a nice little earner from interest on monies held in trust... Read more

Michael Evans. It now takes more than $18,000 in spending on credit cards to earn a $100 rewards voucher... Read more

International Headlines

US Market Report. The S&P 500 index hit 1,400 for the first time in four years on Thursday as a strong run of economic data continues to cement a strong uptrend in equity markets... Read more

World Market Report. An updated report of the worlds' latest market movements... Read more

The IMF has agreed to pay 28bn euros towards Greece's second bailout of 130bn euros after last week's private debt swap... Read more

Delaying Greece’s debt restructuring by more than a year reduced banks’ potential losses as firms trimmed their holdings and most of the risk shifted to European taxpayers... Read more

Britain’s top-notch credit rating was put in jeopardy by a second agency, after Fitch joined Moody’s in downgrading the outlook on government bonds to “negative”... Read more

Britain should not delay too long kick-starting the sale of its shares in Royal Bank of Scotland , the chief executive of RBS said, as speculation grows that the government could sell an initial stake at a loss... Read more

Intesa Sanpaolo , Italy's biggest retail bank, posted a 10 billion euro ($13.07 billion) loss in the fourth quarter as it joined domestic rival UniCredit in writing down billions of euros of goodwill to repair a balance sheet damaged by the euro zone debt crisis... Read more

Britain has decided to cooperate with the United States in a bilateral agreement to release strategic oil stocks, two British sources said, in an effort to prevent high fuel prices derailing economic growth in a election year... Read more

Shares of Apple reached $600 for the first time on Thursday, setting yet another milestone for the stock market's most valuable company... Read more

The body that handles global banking transactions says it will cut Iran's banks out of the system on Saturday to enforce EU sanctions... Read more

Libya's stock exchange reopens with 10 companies for the first time since the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime... Read more

Goldman Sachs' boss has rejected claims by a former employee that its environment is "toxic and destructive".... Read more

Wall St, which has faced a loss of cachet since the financial disaster, is now dealing with the marketing crisis from the public resignation letter of Greg Smith, a former Goldman Sachs executive director... Read more

Deutsche Lufthansa AG (LHA) Chief Executive Officer Christoph Franz predicted the sale of its unprofitable BMI unit to International Consolidated Airlines Group SA will clear antitrust hurdles at the first attempt... Read more

Cisco Systems has reached a $5 billion deal to buy NDS, which makes set-top box software for cable and satellite TV companies, a move the network equipment maker said would accelerate its expansion into the video communications market... Read more

Richard Brasher, head of supermarket chain Tesco in the UK, has quit the board with immediate effect. The 50-year-old will leave Britain's largest retailer, where he has worked for 26 years, in July... Read more

After weeks of negotiations with the government, CNN's Marketplace Africa show has been granted access to the controversial Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.... Read more

An Irish company says it has found the Republic's first viable oil well.... Read more

Larry Elliott. In one sense, the warning from Fitch that it might strip the UK of its AAA rating is good news for George Osborne... Read more

Important Disclaimer - The views expressed herein are those of the authors and are based on information believed but not warranted to be correct. Any views or information, whilst given in good faith, are not necessarily the views of ASB Bank Limited and are given with an express disclaimer of responsibility and no right of action shall arise against any of the authors, ASB Bank Limited or its employees either directly or indirectly out of any views, advice or information.
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