Top Stories

  • China denies using devaluation for trade AAP - 6 hours ago
    China denies using devaluation for trade

    China says it has no intention of using currency devaluation to its advantage in trade, responding to an assertion from US President Donald Trump that China is the "grand champions" of currency manipulation. Trump said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday he had not "held back" in his assessment that China manipulates its yuan currency, just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analysing Beijing's foreign exchange practices. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he hoped the United States could "fully and correctly" view the exchange rate issue.

  • Head-scratching investors call time on Trump stock rally AFP - 10 hours ago
    Head-scratching investors call time on Trump stock rally

    World equity markets came under pressure Friday as analysts ran out of ways to justify Donald Trump-inspired stock valuations, but some said the party may not be completely over. The dollar stuttered, while Wall Street, Asian and European markets fell after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin lowered US growth expectations, providing the trigger for a correction many said had been overdue. "The signs were there for a stock market plunge, which is exactly what has happened today," said Fawad Razaqzada, an analyst at Forex.com.

  • Electricity prices tipped to rise in Qld AAP - 10 hours ago

    Electricity prices are tipped to rise by $25 a year for regional Queensland households from July. The Queensland Competition Authority released its draft regulated retail electricity prices on Friday, which confirm a 1.7 per cent increase in the 2017-18 financial year. Energy Minister Mark Bailey said the draft prices did not "capture wholesale price impacts of recent extreme heatwaves and the record high demand events in Queensland".

  • Share market dips as miners, banks fall AAP - 10 hours ago

    The Australian share market is lower, pulled back for a second successive session by significant falls among the big miners, with weakness among the big four banks further prodding the retreat. OptionsXpress ...

  • Google rolls out AI tool to combat online trolls AFP - 10 hours ago
    Google rolls out AI tool to combat online trolls

    Google said it will begin offering media groups an artificial intelligence tool designed to stamp out incendiary comments on their websites. The programming tool, called Perspective, aims to assist editors trying to moderate discussions by filtering out abusive "troll" comments, which Google says can stymie smart online discussions. "Seventy-two percent of American internet users have witnessed harassment online and nearly half have personally experienced it," said Jared Cohen, president of Google's Jigsaw technology incubator.

  • France's Macron takes on critics over 'vague' programme AFP - 10 hours ago
    France's Macron takes on critics over 'vague' programme

    France's centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron gave the first clear outlines of his economic programme Friday, promising a mix of public spending cuts and fresh investment to stimulate sluggish growth. While proposing to extend France's unemployment benefits system to the self-employed, he also said he would withdraw payments for people who twice turned down jobs that they were qualified for. "I want a system of rights and responsibilities," Macron told RMC radio.

  • Stocks to watch AAP - 11 hours ago

    Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange: AHG - AUTOMOTIVE HOLDINGS - down 17 cents, or 4.18 per cent, at $3.90 Retailer and logistics firm Automotive Holdings Group's first-half net profit has ...

  • Tough outlook steps on strong RCG result AAP - 11 hours ago

    Investors have put the boot into The Athlete's Foot owner RCG Corporation despite a standout first-half result, as the retail conglomerate warned a tough trading environment would crimp its full-year earnings outlook. Despite a 32 per cent gain in half-year profit and increased revenue, RCG Corporation's shares fell as much as 20 per cent during Friday trade before closing down 24 cents - a 17.3 per cent drop - at $1.15 - an 18-month low. It posted a half-year net profit of $21.2 million helped by a climb in customer sales with revenue for the half year to December 25, up 39.3 per cent to $301.3 million.

  • The business week in numbers AAP - 12 hours ago

    150 million - the size in Australian dollars of the share buyback announced by BlueScope Steel after the manufacturer lifted its first-half profit by $159 million to $359.1 million. 12 - the percentage by which first-half earnings declined at Fairfax Media's Australian metro media. With newspaper earnings continuing to fall, Fairfax finally decided the time is right to spin off moneyspinning real estate business Domain into a separate ASX-listed company.

  • Bellamy's vows turnaround amid profit fall AAP - 12 hours ago

    Troubled infant formula maker Bellamy's Australia says its 18-month turnaround plan is underway after it unveiled a 47 per cent plunge in half-year profit to $7.2 million. Revenue for the six months to December 31 rose 12.5 per cent to $118.3 million compared to a year earlier, but profit was hit by significant items totalling $8.6 million related to its poor sales in China. The Tasmania-based company has endured a massive plunge in share price since December after it flagged a significant drop in sales in the key China market and downgraded its full-year earnings forecast twice.

  • Cuts to welfare, business tax on agenda AAP - 12 hours ago

    Welfare savings and corporate tax cuts are on the government's agenda for federal parliament next week. The Turnbull government is keen to get its "omnibus" welfare bill and enterprise tax plan through the lower house by the end of the week, allowing the Senate to debate them at the next sittings starting on March 20. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the tax cuts are essential for making Australia more competitive with other countries also seeking to bring in more investment.

  • ACCC to seek stiffer penalties this year AAP - 12 hours ago

    Australia's competition regulator has flagged it will seek larger penalties against big companies this year in order to effectively deter them from misconduct. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission plans to focus on unfair contracts for small businesses, and to target cartels and misconduct by large businesses in the health, construction and agriculture sectors, as part of its priorities for 2017. "One issue that continually emerges is whether the penalties against large businesses are enough of a deterrent and more than just the cost of doing business," chairman Rod Sims said at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney.

  • Debt, housing risk in more rate cuts: RBA AAP - 12 hours ago
    Debt, housing risk in more rate cuts: RBA

    Soaring household debt and housing prices could make it "dangerous" to cut interest rates, the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia says. Dr Philip Lowe has told a federal parliamentary economics committee that while a deeper cut to the official cash rate could deliver a short-term boost to jobs and inflation but also push already-high property prices and household debt levels to worrying levels. "Is it really in the national interest to create a little bit more employment growth in the short-run at the expense of creating vulnerabilities which could be quite dangerous in the long term?" Dr Lowe said at the hearing in Sydney on Friday.

  • Peugeot boss has 'constructive' Vauxhall talk with union AFP - 13 hours ago
    Peugeot boss has 'constructive' Vauxhall talk with union

    French carmaker PSA's boss Carlos Tavares, pushing plans to buy General Motors' European brands Opel and Vauxhall, had a "constructive" talk Friday with the head of Britain's biggest trade union about the project, the union said. Len McCluskey, head of the Unite union, said the London meeting was "relatively positive" and the two sides had agreed to "engage constructively" in future. "Mr Tavares gave assurances that current production commitments would be met should the takeover with PSA go ahead," McCluskey said in a statement.

  • Vic coal redundancies to open up jobs AAP - 13 hours ago

    As many as 150 Victorian coal workers will be given voluntary redundancies and their jobs handed to retrenched workers from the nearby Hazelwood coal-fired power station. AGL and EnergyAustralia coal workers in the Latrobe Valley will be given redundancy packages - with government support - and their jobs will be transferred to former Engie staff. It has taken a lot of work," Premier Daniel Andrews said in Morwell on Friday.

  • Bellamy's HY profit drops 47% AAP - 14 hours ago

    Troubled infant formula maker Bellamy's Australia has reported a 47 per cent drop in half-year profit to $7.2 million following weaker-than-expected sales in China. Revenue for the six months to December 31 rose 12.5 per cent to $118.3 million compared to a year earlier, but profit was hit by significant items totalling $8.6 million related to its poor sales in China. The Tasmania-based company has endured a massive plunge in share price since December after it flagged a significant drop in sales in the key growth market of China and downgraded its full-year earnings forecast.

  • Farmgate milk price may lift: MG AAP - 14 hours ago

    The price that dairy processor Murray Goulburn pays farmers for their milk could improve in fiscal 2018 as the co-operative benefits from stronger prices for dairy commodities, and if seasonal conditions for farmers remain good. Murray Goulburn says that since last August, prices for dairy commodities - full-cream milk powder, skim milk powder, butter and cheddar - had improved towards their 10-year average. Better weather meant more milk available to dairy processors, Murray Goulburn chief executive Ari Mervis said on Friday.

  • High points from the Lowe hearing AAP - 14 hours ago

    Governor Philip Lowe was repeatedly asked about the merits of the Turnbull government's proposed tax cuts. With interest rates so low, Dr Lowe believes Australia should build transport infrastructure, describing it as a "first order gain". Dr Lowe described housing affordability as a big social issue concerning many parents, insisting many people spend too much of their income on housing.

  • Litigation funder IMF back in the black AAP - 14 hours ago

    The litigation funder backing a shareholder class action against Bellamy's is back in the black with a first-half profit of $14 million. IMF Bentham says six completed cases generated a 154 per cent increase in income from litigation contracts and helped it to the $13.99 million net profit for the six months to December 31, compared to a $944,000 loss in the prior corresponding period. Net income from cases almost trebled from $11.8 million to $35 million, with the Bellamy's class action and another against cleaning group Spotless still in the pipeline.

  • Russia sells jewel, but quiet on buyer AAP - 14 hours ago

    More than a month after Russia announced one of its biggest privatisations since the 1990s, selling a 19.5 per cent stake in its giant oil company Rosneft, it still isn't possible to determine from public records the full identities of those who bought it. The stake was sold for 10.2 billion euros ($A14.5 billion) to a Singapore investment vehicle that Rosneft said was a 50/50 joint venture between Qatar and the Swiss oil trading firm Glencore. Unveiling the deal at a televised meeting with Rosneft's boss Igor Sechin in December, President Vladimir Putin called it a sign of international faith in Russia, despite US and EU financial sanctions on Russian firms including Rosneft.

  • Billabong HY loss deepens to $16.1m AAP - 14 hours ago
    Billabong HY loss deepens to $16.1m

    Struggling surfwear retailer Billabong has downgraded its full-year earnings guidance after its first-half loss widened to $16.1 million. The Gold Coast-based retailer said on Friday it expects full-year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $52 million and $57 million. Billabong's previous guidance was for earnings of between $60 million and $65 million, but it revised the figures following this week's $60 million sale of swimwear brand Tigerlily to Crescent Capital.

  • Penalty rate cuts could boost economy: RBA AAP - 15 hours ago

    Cuts to weekend penalty rates for retail and hospitality workers may create more jobs and boost spending in the economy, the Reserve Bank says. Governor Philip Lowe faced questions about Thursday's controversial Fair Work Commission decision when he fronted a parliamentary economics committee on Friday, with Labor's Matt Keogh quizzing him on whether the cuts would dampen consumption and in turn, economic growth. Dr Lowe said subdued spending among those taking a pay cut was one of two outcomes, with the alternative being more jobs and more spending.

  • Japan clocks out early for 'Premium Friday' AFP - 15 hours ago
    Japan clocks out early for 'Premium Friday'

    Japan's Prime Minister spent Friday afternoon meditating while staff at some of the country's biggest firms quit work early -- in time for a bit of shopping or maybe a boozy train ride. Welcome to Premium Friday, Japan's latest bid to tackle two perennial problems -- sluggish consumer spending and notoriously long working hours blamed for a national health crisis known as karoshi, or death from overwork. Major firms including automakers Nissan and Toyota, beverage giant Suntory and brokerage Nomura are taking part in the government-backed initiative.

  • Bellamy's profit slides 47% AAP - 15 hours ago

    Troubled infant formula maker Bellamy's has reaffirmed its full-year revenue guidance after reporting a 47 per cent drop in half-year profit. The company said net profit for the six months to December 31 slid to $7.2 million, although revenue was up 12.5 per cent to $118.3 million. Bellamy's in December flagged weaker-than-expected sales in its key growth market of China, leading to an earnings downgrade and a massive plunge in the company's share price.

  • Many US tech workers feel discrimination AAP - 15 hours ago

    About a quarter of US workers in the technology sector, which has faced criticism for a lack of diversity, say they felt discrimination at their workplace in a survey released by job site Indeed.com. The survey of 1,002 US tech sector workers, conducted in December, found 24 per cent said they felt they had been discriminated against at their current companies due to their race, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation. Some 29 per cent of female respondents said they experienced discrimination compared with 21 per cent of men.