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ASB Securities Morning Brief for Wednesday, 13 April 2016

New Zealand Headlines

New Zealand Market Report: New Zealand shares rose after Orion Health Group said it won new UK clients and SkyCity Entertainment Group rebounded following a conference call for analysts while A2 Milk Co dropped. The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 0.9 points, or 0.01 percent, to 6726.02. Within the index, 24 stocks rose, 20 fell and six were unchanged. Turnover was $168 million... Read more

The New Zealand dollar extended its gains to the highest level in more than a week as commodity prices rose and the greenback hovered near a six-month low against a basket of currencies. The kiwi rose to 68.83 US cents as at 5pm in Wellington, from 68.58 cents at the start of the day and from 68.17 cents yesterday. The trade-weighted index advanced to 72.52 from 71.99 yesterday... Read more

Record tourism has driven New Zealand hotel and motel occupancy rates to their highest ever levels and prompted the industry to start making plans to cope with ever increasing demand. The country's hotel occupancy rate increased 2.4 percentage points to a record high 80.3 percent in February while the motel rate advanced 2.2 percentage points to a record 75.3 percent, Statistics New Zealand said... Read more

Auckland’s slowdown is over as new REINZ data reveals a house price rebound – and that’s a problem for the Reserve Bank. Following several months at a cooler, more sedate pace, Auckland’s housing market has roared back into action.... Read more

Auckland's housing boom has forced its council to enlist the help of other local authorities to process building consent applications. Auckland Council received a record 23,220 applications last year, up by 12 percent, and consents teams at Wellington and Porirua city councils have been contracted to help process them... Read more

Auckland house price sales have rocketed away again, prompting Real Estate Institute chief executive Colleen Milne to say predictions of a market slowdown were overstated. Auckland sales volumes rose an astonishing 67 per cent from February to March, REINZ announced. The Auckland regional median price rose from $750,000 in February to $820,000 in March, North Shore medians rocketed ahead from $940,000 to $1 million and Auckland City's median shot from $825,000 to $962,000... Read more

Bulk of Wellington's Victoria St Precinct apartments sell from plans. Swift sales of Wellington's $80 million Victoria Street Precinct apartments could signal a return to buyer confidence in the capital. The bulk of the 140 apartments in the downtown housing complex have sold from the plans as Wellington's residential property market continues to heat up... Read more

Busy Christchurch property developer Richard Diver has sold one of his central Christchurch buildings as he puts another up for sale. Diver's Countrywide Property Group is selling off some of its assets to concentrate on other development projects in the city... Read more

AMP expects bundling life insurance with KiwiSaver to become a key way to fight New Zealand’s under-insurance problem. It launched AMP Essentials this week, which it told advisers was a way to make insurance more affordable and accessible and to stem the flow of KiwiSaver members moving to banks... Read more

The Reserve Bank says New Zealand's insurance sector is healthier since it took responsibility for monitoring the industry five years ago and the central bank plans to have a look at the law to make sure it's still working. The RBNZ will review the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010 (IPSA), which added insurers to its oversight of supervising banks and non-bank lenders... Read more

British farmers are dismayed to find New Zealand lamb being sold under Prince Charles' brand Duchy Originals, which was meant to promote the best of British produce. Duchy Originals products are sold only at UK supermarket Waitrose, which confirmed it does sell imported lamb under the Duchy brand when supplies from British farms were not available, the Daily Mail reported... Read more

Fonterra board size in focus in first governance overhaul since inception... Read more

Review highlights reporting rules. Submissions to an NZX review show many market participants are keen to reduce "fragmentation" in corporate governance reporting requirements, says the sharemarket operator. The review attracted 45 submissions from listed companies, investors, industry bodies and other groups in response to proposals to broaden rules around corporate governance for NZX issuers... Read more

Institutional investors and listed companies were split on NZX's proposal to introduce more transparent reporting of non-financial measures and executive pay, submissions show. The stock market operator today released submissions on proposals to broaden governance rules for listed companies, before a wider review of listing rules this year... Read more

Squirrel’s equity crowdfunding offer has closed, short of its target. Investors put just under $3.5 million into the mortgage broker and peer-to-peer lender through the Snowball Effect platform. That is the largest amount raised by a New Zealand crowdfunder but still shy of the $4.97 million maximum target set.... Read more

The NZX has written to Cavalier Corp NZX: CAV asking the carpet maker for an explanation for a 27% jump in its share price in under a week. In its letter, the NZX says the Auckland-based manufacturer's share price has increased from 59c at the market close on the April 6 to 75c at 11am this morning, an increase of 16c. The stock market operator asked the company to advise whether it continued to apply the listing rules demanding continuous disclosure of information that could affect its share price... Read more

One of the world's biggest technology investment companies, which has put money into Apple and Google, has now taken a stake in a small Kiwi start-up that specialises in making online videos. 90 Seconds TV has built a cloud-based video production platform that gives access to camera operators in 70 countries and an online review system as the video is being made. The company's founder and CEO, Tim Norton, says 90 Seconds TV as raised $11.4 million, and Sequoia Capital's branch in India is the lead investor.... Read more

Orion Health shares extended their advance after the health systems software developer signed up a pair of new clients in the UK. The shares rose 5.7% to $4.25, the highest level since June 2015, adding to a 26% gain so far this year... Read more

The NZX-listed rural and farmer services company, PGG Wrightson, says its chairman has withdrawn his takeover bid for the New York-listed agricultural company, Agria Corporation. Guanglin "Alan" Lai made his offer to shareholders in January... Read more

Loan small print reveals little-known lender powers.... Read more

Christchurch Minister Gerry Brownlee has announced the appointment of two contractors for a metro sports facility. The appointment pits the contractors against each other in the joint government and city council funded post-earthquakes rebuild anchor project. In late August, a decision will be made to continue with one of the two contractors... Read more

As the busy winter approaches and with evening flights scheduled to take off soon, Queenstown Airport staff numbers are expected to swell by at least a third. At least 115 new staff members are being or have been recruited to positions across the board including operational staff, retail and restaurant workers and Government employees as the various organisations cope with anticipated growth... Read more

Regions 'calling out for Jetstar' says Qantas CEO, despite teething problems. "Teething problems" affecting Jetstar's regional flights will be ironed out as staff gain experience and processes are improved, Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce says. Jetstar's regional flights are often the subject of customer complaints, most being in relation to flight delays and cancellations. Last year, Qantas-owned Jetstar last year expanded its network to Nelson, Napier, New Plymouth and Palmerston North using a fleet of five 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turbo-prop aircraft... Read more

No airline could make money out of it: Air New Zealand savages runway extension. Long haul flights out of Wellington are a pipe dream, according to New Zealand's national carrier. But Wellington Airport is already in talks to hook up with Asian airlines to fly direct out of the city, it has been revealed... Read more

Aaron Bowkett is taking a sabbatical from his role at Synergy, the new class DIMS offer from FANZ and Consilium, to study other businesses around the world.... Read more

The battle to retain 500 Inland Revenue Department staff in central Hamilton appears to have been lost as the department looks set to move to Te Rapa. Hamilton leaders have expressed disappointment over the decision which is a major blow to efforts to revive the city's ailing CBD. The tax department first announced its 900 staff needed new accommodation in mid 2014, sparking a war between the central city and Te Rapa's powerful property owners... Read more

Prime Minister John Key has declared a short-term deposit in a trustee company that specialises in foreign trusts and also provides legal service for him. The latest register of MPs' pecuniary interests, which was released today, lists a company called Antipodes Trust Group as a debtor in Mr Key’s entry. There were no overseas trusts listed in the entry... Read more

Feltex shareholders had a right to know their own money was being used to fund dividend payments, a class action against the failed carpet company claims. In the second day of a Court of Appeal hearings in Wellington on Tuesday, Colin Carruthers QC said the board of the failed carpet manufacturer planned to pay no dividend in 2004. No dividend was proposed in the first draft of the prospectus submitted for regulatory approval, he said... Read more

A Christchurch property manager under police investigation and facing a misconduct charge after a tattooist was crushed to death in the February 2011 quake can now be named. Licensed Harcourts real estate agent Christopher Chapman is accused of serious negligence and disgraceful conduct amid claims he failed to inform a commercial building's tenants the property had been deemed structurally unsafe by engineers... Read more

The Warehouse has been reported to the Commerce Commission three times in the past eight months for alleged "bait advertising" tactics. Customers have accused the big box retailer of using illegal bait advertising tactics to lure shoppers online with special offers despite not having adequate quantities of the stock at hand... Read more

The incidence of computer-attacking software has exploded in the last six years, from 2.3 million new pieces of malware in 2009 to 430.5 million last year, according to the latest Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, with New Zealand seen as a relatively soft target. The report says cyber criminals are going corporate, establishing professional businesses with nine to five work hours and holiday pay, and their skills now match those of nation-state attackers... Read more

Opinion - Ron Pol: Ron Pol says 'tax haven' misses the point: New Zealand’s reputation offers a competitive advantage, and opportunity... Read more

Opinion - Tom Pullar-Strecker: Panama Papers: The failed defence for foreign trusts. No-one seems to have a good word to say for the 11,645 foreign trusts that have been set up in New Zealand. Even the lawyers and accountants who earn an estimated $20 million to $50m each year helping set them up have been very quiet. So let's give them a helping hand and try and defend foreign trusts for them... Read more

Australian Headlines

Australian Market Report: The Australian share market has closed higher due to gains among the major banks. Australian Stock Report head of research Chris Conway said bargain hunting has helped lift the financial stocks, however investors were being cautious ahead of the banks interim earnings reporting season due to start next month. At 1615 AEST, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 44.1 points, or 0.89 per cent, at 4,975.6 points. The broader All Ordinaries index was up 40.5 points, or 0.81 per cent, at 5,053.7 points.... Read more

The Australian dollar has soared above 76 US cents again as the greenback remains under pressure and commodities strengthen. At 1200 AEST on Tuesday, the currency was trading at 76.20 US cents, up from 75.50 cents on Monday.... Read more

Confidence sags for fourth straight week. Worrying news flow around the looming federal budget has dragged consumer confidence below the long-run average for the first time in nearly two months, and it's likely to get worse. The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index fell 1.2 per cent last week, and has fallen 2.6 per cent over the previous three weeks... Read more

Soaring business conditions have increased chances the Reserve Bank will hold rates this year. Overall business conditions rose from +8.0 to +12 points in March, according to the National Australia Bank's Monthly Business Survey, released Tuesday... Read more

Another day, another bad news story for those trying to get on the property ladder. This week a survey found 58 per cent of Australians believe the next generation will never own their own homes. But for those sick of the grim outlook, they need to understand that change is also in their hands... Read more

The head of Australia's corporate regulator has played down calls for a royal commission into banks, but also acknowledged that budget cuts have reduced surveillance of the financial sector. Australian Securities and Investments Commission chairman Greg Medcraft said his body has very similar evidence gathering powers to a royal commission... Read more

Bitcoin industry rushing through tougher guidelines as 'devastated' buyers seek refunds. The Australian online currency industry is urgently moving to bring in a code of conduct to stop customers losing money from bitcoin companies that go under. Last night, 7.30 revealed that Australian-founded bitcoin exchange Igot appeared on the verge of collapse, with dozens of customers and clients claiming to be owed hundreds of thousands of dollars... Read more

WA Premier Colin Barnett has opened the LNG18 conference in Perth by urging oil and gas companies to take a stronger lead in securing community and environmental support for disputed projects. "It is not enough to leave it to politicians, like myself, to fight the good fight," Mr Barnett told delegates at the Perth Conference Exhibition Centre this morning... Read more

Royal Dutch Shell chief executive Ben van Beurden will call for his industry to work harder at cutting costs to make sure the gas sector remains competitive with coal and the fast-growing renewable energy space... Read more

Chevron chairman and chief executive John Watson has called on Australia to cut its operating costs and lift productivity for it to be able to attract the next wave of capital investment in the energy sector. Addressing the LNG18 conference's opening session in Perth this morning, Mr Watson said Australia's costs continued to be 40 per cent higher when compared to Gulf of Mexico states in the US, while productivity was much lower... Read more

MinQuest Ltd has been granted a trading halt by the ASX, with its shares placed in pre-open. MinQuest requested the halt pending details of a business acquisition... Read more

Queensland Nickel was Palmer's 'piggy bank'. Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel workers are a step closer to getting some of the money they're owed, amid claims the company was used as a "piggy bank" for the federal MP's business empire. Administrators FTI Consulting say Queensland Nickel should be liquidated to repay some of the $100 million it owes, including to 787 workers still waiting for more than $70 million in entitlements... Read more

Clive Palmer denies ‘pulling strings’ in failing Queensland Nickel... Read more

Global aluminium major Alcoa has flagged a more positive outlook for its alumina operations for the rest of the year, telling investors overnight it still sees a large supply deficit emerging over the rest of 2016. Alcoa announced its March quarter financial results overnight, saying the period was still a tough one for its alumina operations - including its Huntly and Willowdale mines, and refineries at Kwinana, Pinjarra and Wagerup... Read more

Hannans Rewards Ltd is raising $1.25 million via a share purchase plan for shareholders at a 20% discount to the 5-day volume weighted average price of Hannans’ shares. Hannans is also raising $333,300 from sophisticated investors by issuing shares and unlisted options exercisable at $0.004... Read more

Rio Tinto could force small businesses to collapse through an unfair decision to double the contractor payment period, West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says. The decision to extend pay periods from 45 to 90 days has also drawn the attention of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who says he will raise it with the mining giant... Read more

Premier Colin Barnett has declared it is not fair or reasonable for Rio Tinto to push out its payment terms and says the State Government will officially object to the decision. Mr Barnett says State Development Minister Bill Marmion and Mining and Petroleum Minister Sean L'Estrange will register the government's objections directly with Rio Tinto iron ore chief Andrew Harding... Read more

Gascoyne Resources Ltd in $15M fund raiser amid heavy demand for shares... Read more

The administrator of failed steel company Arrium has been replaced in a sudden and bloodless coup that could delay the firm's restructure. Insolvency firm Grant Thornton, which was appointed less than a week ago, said it would be moving aside to make way for administrators chosen after a deal between banks and unions... Read more

Impact Minerals Ltd's shares have been placed in a trading halt after the company requested this ahead of an announcement of a capital raising. The halt is expected to last until Thursday, 14 April 2016... Read more

Coles slammed over its interstate sourcing of stone fruit. Shoppers have threatened to boycott Coles over its sourcing of stone fruit after a grower was forced to dump 30 tonnes of nectarines, while the supermarket imports them from interstate. Images of the dumped fruit, which Western Australian grower Peter Casotti said was worth $100,000, prompted an outpouring of disgust on social media by customers calling on Coles to support local farmers... Read more

Target chiefs face backlash over rebates. Three senior Target managers have quit and several more face disciplinary action after doing something “mind-blowingly stupid”. They artificially boosted the retailer’s earnings by arranging rebates with 31 overseas’ suppliers for the first half of the 2016 financial year on the promise the retailer would pay higher prices in the second half. That means Target was not on the cusp of a turnaround as first thought... Read more

The fallout over the Target supplier rebate scandal has caught up with a former executive of the retailer in the United Kingdom. British company Pets at Home said former Target finance director Graeme Jenkins would no longer be taking up an appointment as its chief financial officer... Read more

Adelaide shipbuilder ASC has declared itself "ready, willing and able" to make a vital contribution to future submarine construction with the appointment of a key executive. Martin Edwards has been named general manager for future submarines as a federal government decision looms on which group will win the bid to build the Navy's next sub fleet... Read more

Technology rentals company, WolfStrike Rentals Group Ltd has launched its first product into the Australian market, a leading edge mobile point of sale (mPOS) payments system developed by payments company Mint Payments Pty Limited. The product has been rebranded under the Settle brand owned by WolfStrike... Read more

South Australia risks exodus of youth workforce, economic report says... Read more

Victoria will look at South Australia's Uber legalisation but "won't be rushed" into regulating ride-sharing. SA on Tuesday announced passengers on ride-sharing services will be charged $1 a ride to compensate taxi licence owners and drivers. The state follows NSW, WA, ACT and Tasmania to legalise or allow to operate ride-sharing services such as UberX... Read more

SA to allow UberX under $65m reforms. South Australia has opened the door to ride-sharing services such as UberX under broad reforms to the state's taxi industry. The decision to allow new entrants to the market from July 1 will cost taxpayers about $65 million over four years when compensation for taxi drivers, the loss of revenue from plate sales and other measures are taken into account... Read more

Former AMP chief executive Craig Dunn has joined the board of telecoms giant Telstra as a non-executive director. Mr Dunn steered AMP through the global financial crisis when CEO between 2008 and 2013. Prior to that, he held senior roles at Colonial Mutual group and in audit and consulted for KPMG... Read more

Optus has cut close to 200 support positions from its northern Adelaide call centre, unions say. The Communication Workers Union believes up to 187 workers could be cut from Optus' call centre at Mawson Lakes. The telecommunications provider confirmed last week 480 jobs would be cut across its workforce as part of a restructure of a number of its business divisions... Read more

Nurofen facing $6m headache for misleading consumers over pain-relief products... Read more

Opinion - Elysse Morgan: Bank royal commission not the only option for Turnbull Government... Read more

International Headlines

U.S. Market Report: U.S. stocks climbed Tuesday as oil futures were on track to close at their highest levels of 2016, which was giving a lift to energy shares. The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.91% rose 154 points, or 0.9% to 17,710.23. The S&P 500 index SPX, +0.95% was up 15.74 points, or 0.8%, at 2,057.75, after slipping into the red about an hour into the day’s trading action. Gains in the broad-market index were led by a 2.9% rise in energy stocks and a 0.5% rise in health care... Read more

North/South Americas Market Report: North and South American markets are broadly higher today with shares in Brazil leading the region. The Bovespa is up 3.25% while U.S.'s S&P 500 is up 0.88% and Mexico's IPC is up 0.77%... Read more

European Market Report: European markets finished higher today with shares in Germany leading the region. The DAX is up 0.81% while France's CAC 40 is up 0.77% and London's FTSE 100 is up 0.68%... Read more

Asian Market Report: Asian markets finished mixed as of the most recent closing prices. The Nikkei 225 gained 1.13% and the Hang Seng rose 0.30%. The Shanghai Composite lost 0.34%... Read more

The U.S. government posted a $108 billion budget deficit in March, more than double the amount from the same period last year, the Treasury Department said on Tuesday. The government had a deficit of $53 billion in March of 2015, according to the Treasury's monthly budget statement. Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a $104 billion deficit for last month... Read more

At its annual investor conference in San Francisco in May 2014, with oil trading at $102 a barrel, Wells Fargo & Co. boasted that in just two years it had almost doubled its energy exposure and seized the title of Wall Street’s top oil and gas banker. The timing couldn’t have been worse. Crude prices peaked a month later and have since plummeted to $40. Wells Fargo has downgraded 38 percent of its energy loans and set aside $1.2 billion to cover potential losses, according to company filings... Read more

Top executives at the world’s largest oil-trading houses said the worst of the market’s woes are probably over, with some predicting prices will climb to $50 a barrel by next year. “The down market is behind us,” Torbjorn Tornqvist, chief executive officer of Gunvor Group Ltd., said on Tuesday at the FT Global Commodities Summit in Lausanne. “It is the beginning of the end of that for sure.”... Read more

Cheap oil isn't Saudi Arabia's only big risk. When Fitch cut Saudi Arabia's credit rating on Tuesday, it cited the usual concerns: low oil prices and a widening government deficit. That's not terribly surprising -- the world's largest oil exporter has endured a slew of downgrades from ratings agencies in recent months... Read more

Two Fed bank presidents backed rate hike ahead of last meeting... Read more

EU competition regulators have resumed their scrutiny of U.S. oil industry services group Halliburton Co's plan to acquire smaller rival Baker Hughes, a deal which U.S. authorities say is uncompetitive and wants to block. The European Commission, which halted its investigation into the $35 billion deal last month while waiting for more details from the companies, will now decide by Aug. 11 whether to clear or veto the takeover... Read more

Finally! The 1st tech IPO of 2016 is on its way. The deep freeze in the tech IPO market may finally be melting -- thanks to Michael Dell. SecureWorks, Dell's cybersecurity business, filed plans this week to raise as much as $157.5 million in an IPO. The deal could value the Atlanta-based company that has 4,200 clients at nearly $1.5 billion... Read more

Billionaire Yuri Milner Pledges $100 Million to Build Butterfly-Size Spaceships. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg joins the board of the project, which aims to find faraway planets capable of sustaining life... Read more

Deutsche Bank AG said it is freezing expansion plans at a North Carolina location in response to a state law that invalidates protections based on sexual orientation. The German lender in September said it planned to add 250 jobs to the 900 existing positions at a software development center in Cary, just west of Raleigh... Read more

Uber says gave U.S. agencies data on more than 12 million users... Read more

Houzz Inc., the Sequoia Capital-backed U.S. startup that connects homeowners with designers and contractors, is bringing its service to Singapore to try and capture a slice of a S$10 billion ($7.4 billion) local remodeling market. It’s started a dedicated website and mobile app for the affluent city state, the third country it’s entered in the Asia Pacific alongside Australia and Japan. About 150,000 people on the Southeast Asian island of 5.7 million already view its photo-rich site every month, according to Houzz co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Adi Tatarko... Read more

Anheuser-Busch InBev has formally informed European Union antitrust regulators of its plan to sell SABMiller's premium European brands to try to secure approval for its $100 billion-plus takeover of the London-based brewer. The world's top brewer has already struck a deal to sell the assets to Japan's Asahi Group Holdings (2502.T), a tactic aimed at staving off a possible lengthy investigation of the biggest ever deal in the consumer goods industry... Read more

A prolonged period of slow growth has left the global economy more exposed to negative shocks and raised the risk that the world will slide into stagnation, the IMF warned. The International Monetary Fund cut its world expansion forecast, as weak exports and slowing investment dim prospects in the U.S., a consumption-tax hike saps growth in Japan, and a slump in the price of everything from oil to wheat continues to hobble commodities producers... Read more

The International Monetary Fund warned on Tuesday of the risk of political isolationism, notably Britain's possible exit from the European Union, and growing economic inequality as it cut its global growth forecast for the fourth time in a year. In the run-up to its spring meetings in Washington this week, the IMF said chronic weakness had left the global economy vulnerable to shocks such as sharp currency devaluations and worsening geopolitical conflicts... Read more

The International Monetary Fund wants Greece's European partners to grant Athens substantial relief on its debt which it sees remaining "highly unsustainable", according to a draft IMF memorandum seen by Reuters. Earlier on Tuesday, Greece and inspectors from its EU/IMF lenders adjourned talks on a crucial bailout review, mainly due to a rift among the lenders over a projected fiscal gap by 2018 and over Athens' resistance to unpopular reforms... Read more

The European Union has unveiled plans to force large companies to disclose more about their tax affairs. They will have to declare publicly how much tax they pay in each EU country as well as any activities carried out in specific tax havens. The rules on "country-by-country reporting" would affect multinational firms with more than €750m in sales... Read more

Mortgages for Million-Pound London Homes Highest in 10 Years... Read more

UK house price growth slows to 7.6%, says ONS... Read more

UK inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index rose to 0.5% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). A sharp increase in air fares, due to the earlier timing of Easter, was the main reason behind the rise from February's rate of 0.3%, the ONS said. Inflation is now at its highest level since December 2014, but it remains below the Bank of England's 2% target... Read more

Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest brokerage, plans to shut down its European equity operations as it cuts costs after years of failing to become profitable overseas, a person with knowledge of the matter said. The Tokyo-based securities firm will shutter equity research, sales, trading and underwriting for European stocks, according to the person, who asked not to be identified discussing private information... Read more

Potential government "co-investment" with a private buyer in Port Talbot steel works could involve taking on some of its debts, Sajid Javid said. The business secretary also hinted that the government might review the use of UK steel in defence projects, in a bid to help the struggling industry... Read more

France’s bonds fell as the government was said to sell ultra-long securities. The country’s Treasury is placing 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) of debt due in May 2066 and 6 billion euros of bonds maturing in May 2036 via banks on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the matter, who is not authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified... Read more

North-South Corridor from Russia to India to compete with Suez Canal. A new transport project under development between Russia, Azerbaijan and Iran and on to India will shorten shipping times and costs by cutting out sea routes and the Suez Canal.... Read more

Is Qatar's economy feeling the pinch? The energy-rich Arab emirate of Qatar is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a reputation for lavish spending and generous state handouts. Qatar has bought up banks across the globe, football clubs in Europe, and properties in the heart of London with some of the highest price tags on the planet... Read more

Venezuela: the land of 500% inflation... Read more

Google Inc. is scaling up its digital skills training programs to accommodate a million Africans in the next year, aiming to deal with high unemployment numbers on the continent. The U.S. tech giant plans to train 300,000 people in South Africa, it said in a statement Tuesday, a country where 35 percent of 15-to-34-year-olds are unemployed. A further 400,000 Nigerians and 200,000 Kenyans will receive free digital training, while another 100,000 people will be selected from other sub-Saharan Africa countries... Read more

Swiss Widen 1MDB Probe, Enlisting Help of Luxembourg, Singapore... Read more

India’s retail inflation eased more than estimated and the weather office predicted above normal rainfall, which could create room for more monetary easing. Consumer prices rose 4.83 percent in March from a year earlier after a 5.26 percent increase in February, the Statistics Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday. The median of 29 estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists had predicted a 5 percent increase. Industrial output expanded 2 percent in February compared with an estimated 0.8 percent gain... 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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