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  • India pledges infrastructure spending to help economy 'fly' AFP - 11 hours ago
    India pledges infrastructure spending to help economy 'fly'

    India's finance minister pledged major investment in infrastructure on Saturday, saying it was time for the economy to "fly", as he unveiled the new right-wing government's first full budget. Arun Jaitley said his government had inherited an economy dominated by "doom and gloom" when it took power last year, trumpeting its achievements in conquering inflation and kick-starting growth. The world is predicting this is India's chance to fly," he said. Prime Minister Narendra Modi swept to power last year on a pledge to revive India's flagging economic fortunes and provide jobs for its 1.2 billion people.

  • Sydney rally as Greens oppose NorthConnex AAP - 13 hours ago
    Sydney rally as Greens oppose NorthConnex

    The Greens will outline their opposition to the proposed NorthConnex project at a rally in Sydney's north. Greens NSW MP John Kaye will attend the community rally on Saturday in Wahroonga and explain the ...

  • Death of French billionaire Bouygues denied by conglomerate AFP - 15 hours ago
    Death of French billionaire Bouygues denied by conglomerate

    The management of French conglomerate Bouygues on Saturday denied the death of CEO Martin Bouygues. "The Bouygues group formally denies the death of its CEO and deplores that such a rumour was spread," the group told AFP in a statement. The TF1 television channel, which is owned by Bouygues, also denied the death of the 62-year-old businessman.

  • Bouygues death denied by French industrialist's group AFP - 15 hours ago
    Bouygues death denied by French industrialist's group

    French conglomerate Bouygues denied on Saturday the death of its CEO Martin Bouygues as reported in error by AFP. "Bouygues categorically denies that its chairman and CEO Martin Bouygues has died and deeply regrets that such a rumour has been allowed to spread," the group said in a statement. The TF1 television channel, which is owned by Bouygues, also denied the 62-year-old businessman's death. The error arose from a misunderstanding between a village mayor and an AFP journalist who was following up a tip-off that Bouygues had died.

  • Billionaire French industrialist Martin Bouygues dies at 62 AFP - 15 hours ago
    Billionaire French industrialist Martin Bouygues dies at 62

    Billionaire French industrialist Martin Bouygues died on Saturday at the age of 62, a mayor in the northwestern Orne region, where he had a home, said. Bouygues, who was CEO of the Bouygues construction and media conglomerate, passed away at his home in La Roche Mabile, Michel Julien, mayor of a neigbouring village in the Orne region, told AFP.

  • Maralinga could be flagged as nuclear dump site, opponent says in wake of SA royal commission ABC - 16 hours ago
    Maralinga could be flagged as nuclear dump site, opponent says in wake of SA royal commission

    Less than four months after land used for nuclear testing in the 1950s was officially handed back to its traditional owners in full, nuclear is back on the agenda at Maralinga in South Australia. Most of Maralinga's 103,000 square kilometre lands were handed back to the Maralinga-Tjuarutja people in the 1980s, and in 2009, a 3,000 square kilometre site known as Section 400 that had been heavily contaminated by radiation and hazardous chemicals, was also handed back. In November last year, the Defence Department officially gave the Maralinga-Tjarutja full control and unrestricted access to the lands. Those connected to the land are worried that a new Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission announced recently by Premier Jay Weatherill will see the land flagged as a potential site for a nuclear waste dump.

  • Eel exports: Tasmanian family cashes in on global demand for short-finned eel ABC - 18 hours ago
    Eel exports: Tasmanian family cashes in on global demand for short-finned eel

    A Tasmanian family is exporting hundreds of short-finned eels out of the state each week. Five years ago, the Finlaysons were exporting five tonnes. "The demand has risen, it's changed a lot," Shaun Finlayson said. The Finlaysons have been in this slippery business for 50 years and three generations.

  • Aussies splash out at Harvey Norman AAP - 19 hours ago
    Aussies splash out at Harvey Norman

    Australians are splurging at Harvey Norman as their houses and share portfolios increase in value. The retailer is forecasting sales growth in its homemaker products this year thanks to improved consumer confidence following a 27.4 per cent boost to half year net profit. The robust result prompted the company to lift its interim dividend to nine cents and issue a special dividend of 14 cents per share. A strong housing market in Australia, record low interest rates, major infrastructure investment in NSW and stable consumer sentiment were pointing to positive trends, chairman Gerry Harvey said.

  • Helicopter crashes on Queensland beach, pilot walks away unscathed ABC - 20 hours ago
    Helicopter crashes on Queensland beach, pilot walks away unscathed

    Witnesses say the pilot of a helicopter that crashed just north of Brisbane today deserves praise for steering the aircraft away from people at the beach. Ambulance officers were called to the scene and treated the pilot for minor injuries. The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) said the helicopter was leaking fuel and the area had been closed to the public. Witness Matthew Hart said he had been enjoying a BBQ lunch with family when the helicopter crashed and he helped the pilot out of the aircraft.

  • Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator: report AFP - 22 hours ago
    Japan's NTT to buy German data centre operator: report

    Communications is looking to acquire German data centre operator e-shelter, as it seeks to cash in on growing demand in Europe, a newspaper reported Saturday. Data centres are becoming crucial for IT companies operating in Europe, with many of the continent's consumers wary of US surveillance in the wake of US whistle-blower Edward Snowden's revelations. US tech giant Apple has announced plans to spend 1.7 billion euros ($1.9 million) to build data centres in Ireland and Denmark. Parent company Nippon Telegraph & Telephone is expanding its overseas operations, including operating data centres for data storage and processing, in response to sluggish telecommunications demand in Japan.

  • Germany approves Greek bailout extension despite unease AFP - 23 hours ago
    Germany approves Greek bailout extension despite unease

    German lawmakers approved a hard-won bailout extension for Greece's new anti-austerity government in a move Berlin's finance chief called "not easy" but necessary, keeping a crucial lifeline open to Athens. Greece's left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras welcomed the German vote Friday as "a political act of common sense and democracy", saying there would be no third bailout for his country and pledging to get to work on reforms. He promised that now his month-old government would "start working hard, in order to change Greece within a Europe that changes direction". The four-month bailout extension for Greece, approved by eurozone finance ministers Tuesday, averts a potentially calamitous end-February deadline that could have seen Athens default and exit from the euro.

  • 'Audit' push challenges Federal Reserve's independence AFP - Sat, Feb 28, 2015 4:05 AM AEDT
    'Audit' push challenges Federal Reserve's independence

    After unemployment and deflation, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen finds herself in her toughest battle yet, fighting a push by Congress to assert itself over monetary policy. Newly in control of both houses on Capitol Hill, Republicans accuse the Fed of misguided policies and political bias, saying the world's most powerful central bank is too autonomous and unaccountable. The Fed calls it a blatant move to politicize its work. "The Fed already has been completely immersed and guided by partisan politics," said Congressman Scott Garrett.

  • NY regulator puts 3 European banks in FX probe AFP - Sat, Feb 28, 2015 1:05 AM AEDT
    NY regulator puts 3 European banks in FX probe

    The New York state financial regulator has subpoenaed three major European banks and a US peer in a probe of foreign-exchange rigging, sources close to the situation told AFP Friday. The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, had sought information about currency practices from French banks BNP Paribas and Societe Generale. One of the sources said Credit Suisse and Wall Street bank Goldman Sachs were also targeted. The subpoenas, served in December to BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse, ask the banks for documents related to their currency operations, said one of the sources, adding that Lawsky was particularly interested in finding out the specific technologies the banks used.

  • German inflation back in positive territory AFP - Sat, Feb 28, 2015 12:18 AM AEDT
    German inflation back in positive territory

    Inflation in Germany, Europe's biggest economy, was back in positive territory in February with consumer prices rising by 0.1 percent, official data showed on Friday. The previous month, the consumer price index had fallen for the first time in five years, dropping by 0.4 percent as a result of lower energy prices. According to the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) -- the yardstick used by the European Central Bank -- inflation in Germany remained in negative territory, slipping by 0.1 percent year-on-year in February, way under the ECB's annual inflation target of just below 2.0 percent.

  • Fischer says Fed's QE an effective stimulus AFP - Sat, Feb 28, 2015 12:18 AM AEDT
    Fischer says Fed's QE an effective stimulus

    Federal Reserve Vice Chair Stanley Fischer on Friday said the Fed's exceptional large-scale asset purchases were continuing to provide "meaningful stimulus" to the US economy. At a monetary policy forum in New York, Fischer laid out the positive effects of the central bank's massive rounds of quantitative easing aimed at pulling the economy out of the 2008-2009 Great Recession. The controversial QE tool also has been used by the British and Japanese central banks amid a slowing global recovery and is set to be launched next month by the European Central Bank to revive the eurozone. Fischer noted that the Fed's balance sheet over the past several years has swollen to about $4.5 trillion, largely reflecting the QE programs, from about $900 billion in 2006.

  • Oil rebounds in volatile trade AFP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 11:10 PM AEDT
    Oil rebounds in volatile trade

    Oil prices rebounded Friday at the end of a volatile week of trading as dealers weighed the global supply glut and slow growth in the world economy. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for April advanced $1.59 to close at $49.76 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, a day after WTI lost almost $3. In London, Brent North Sea crude for April delivery, the global benchmark, surged to $62.58 a barrel, up a hefty $2.53 from Thursday's closing level. Crude oil has lost about 50 percent of its value since June.

  • GrainCorp expects profit to halve AAP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 10:32 PM AEDT
    GrainCorp expects profit to halve

    GrainCorp has warned its full year profit could dive more than 50 per cent due to smaller crops and weaker exports. Chief executive Mark Palmquist blamed the weaker outlook on a smaller winter crop and reduced exports.

  • US stocks sag but remain close to record highs AFP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 10:18 PM AEDT
    US stocks sag but remain close to record highs

    Wall Street stocks fell modestly Friday but remained close to record highs to close out the best single-month performance since 2011. The official estimate of US growth in the October-December quarter was revised to 2.2 percent from the initial estimate of 2.6 percent. Coca-Cola led gains in blue-chips, jumping 2.0 percent on the soaring profits of its soon-to-be energy drink partner Monster Beverages.

  • Google unveils 'campus' plan with modular buildings AFP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 10:13 PM AEDT
    Google unveils 'campus' plan with modular buildings

    Google unveiled a plan Friday for a new headquarters campus that includes waterways, public gardens, covered bikeways and modular building structures. The redesign for Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and London-based Thomas Heatherwick was submitted to local officials Friday, with details released on the company's official blog. "As we've inhabited a variety of workplaces -- including a garage in Menlo Park, a farmhouse in Denmark and an entire New York city block -- we've learned something about what makes an office space great," Google vice president for real estate David Radcliffe said in a blog post.

  • Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan AFP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 10:13 PM AEDT
    Google hits back at rivals with futuristic HQ plan

    Google unveiled plans Friday for a new campus headquarters integrating wildlife and sweeping waterways, aiming to make a big statement in Silicon Valley -- which is already seeing ambitious projects from Apple and Facebook. The redesign on the Google property in Mountain View, California, by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and London-based Thomas Heatherwick, was submitted to local officials Friday, with details released on the company's official blog. The latest huge design project in Silicon Valley comes as Apple is in the midst of building its "spaceship" campus and Facebook is using renowned architect Frank Gehry for its campus expansion.

  • RBA expected to cut rates again AAP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:36 PM AEDT
    RBA expected to cut rates again

    A growing band of top economists expect the Reserve Bank to take a razor to interest rates again next week, amid further signs the economy is deteriorating. All 17 economists surveyed by AAP expect the RBA will deliver at least one more rate cut in 2015, taking the cash rate to a new record low of two per cent. Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac and AMP Capital are among those forecasting a March cut, with the general consensus being the RBA tends to deliver cuts in pairs. It's normally two," Commonwealth Bank senior economist Michael Workman said.

  • Glencore slashes coal production AAP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:36 PM AEDT
    Glencore slashes coal production

    Global mining giant Glencore is cutting its Australian coal production by 15 million tonnes due to weak demand. Glencore currently employs 8,600 workers. It said it would make changes at several sites, including underground roster changes, scaling back of some open pit mining and revisions to its product portfolio, to better match its volume and coal quality to current market demand. "We will continue to review all our coal operations in the prevailing economic climate," Glencore said.

  • More WA public sector 'efficiencies' ahead AAP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:33 PM AEDT

    Facing three straight deficits, West Australian Treasurer Mike Nahan says there's "great scope" for more belt tightening in the public sector. Dr Nahan told a business briefing on Friday the state budget was still heading for the red after about a 50 per cent plunge in the iron ore price during the past 12 months. "I think the time is right ... and I've got good feedback from the Commonwealth government, but I haven't banked it yet and it's yet to be achieved," Dr Nahan later told reporters. "For the last two years, the treasurer - first Wayne Swan and then Joe Hockey - overrode the Grants Commission on the system for iron ore fines.

  • No debt crisis in Australia but spending cuts needed, new Treasury secretary, John Fraser, says ABC - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:32 PM AEDT

    If the Federal Government thought that the new head of the Treasury Department would be a shy and retiring type, it was wrong. John Fraser was forthright and sometimes contradicted government policy while giving his first public address in Sydney. He slammed the impact of tax cuts and middle class welfare on government revenue and said Australia did not have a debt crisis but did need to cut spending and reduce government debt to prevent future problems. Mr Fraser has taken over from the outspoken Martin Parkinson, who stepped down in December after being effectively sacked by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

  • Commodities mixed in volatile week AFP - Fri, Feb 27, 2015 8:55 PM AEDT
    Commodities mixed in volatile week

    Oil prices faced sharp volatility this week amid stubborn oversupply concerns, while metals aimed higher as Chinese trading picked up following the Lunar New Year, dealers said. OIL: The market initially won support after Ali Al-Naimi, the oil minister of major producer Saudi Arabia, declared Wednesday that demand was growing and the market has turned "calm". Brent crude also gained ground on the back of supply-side tensions in Iraq and Libya. "Prices managed to get some support amid positive comments from OPEC's kingpin Saudi Arabia's Al-Naimi, who said prices were stabilising and that demand was growing," said analyst Andrey Kryuchenkov at Natural Resources Consulting.