Business news - Financial industry, Money and Trading

Money markets repo rates dip in fed rate cut speculation

´╗┐repurchase agreements fell for a second day on Wednesday as investors mulled whether the Federal Reserve might eventually follow the European Central Bank and cut the interest it pays on excess reserves. The rate on repos secured by Treasuries was last quoted at 21 basis points, down from 27 on Monday, and the lowest since June 19. The rate has dipped amid some speculation the Fed may eventually cut the interest rate it pays on excess reserves to banks (IOER). The speculation was spurred after the ECB on July 5 cut to zero the deposit rate it pays banks for parking money with it overnight."Because of the uncertainty over IOER, if you are an asset manager and you are taking money out of other markets you are probably going to put that into overnight repo, so it is going to drive the rate lower," said Thomas Simons, money market economist with Jefferies & Co in New York. The IOER currently stands at 0.25 percent. Some investors believe the Fed might reduce the rate in order to encourage other types of lending and possibly prop up economic growth.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, in testimony before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday, offered few new clues on whether the U.S. central bank was moving closer to a fresh round of monetary stimulus, but repeated the Fed's pledge to act if needed. Meanwhile euro zone bank-to-bank lending rates fell to all-time lows on Wednesday, driven down by record low ECB interest rates and the decision to stop paying interest on money deposited at the central bank overnight. The ECB's overnight deposit rate of zero acts as a floor for money market rates because banks lend to rivals only if they are able to earn a better rate of interest than at the central bank.

The ECB hopes its unprecedented move, which means banks now get nothing if they park their spare cash there, will nurture a return to more significant interbank lending by forcing banks to look for more profitable options. Although some money market experts fear the cut could backfire and kill off parts of the market, the move, plus a growing belief the ECB could continue to cut rates, has had an immediate impact on bank-to-bank rates. Three-month Euribor rates, traditionally the main gauge of unsecured bank-to-bank lending, hit an all-time low of 0.464 percent on Wednesday, down from 0.470 percent. The equivalent Libor rate, also at a record low, fell by 1 basis point to 0.34464 percent. Libor is set by a smaller panel of London-based banks.

Overnight rates bucked the trend rising to 0.119 percent from 0.114 percent. However, they remain 20 basis points below where they were before the ECB cut rates. Dollar-priced three-month bank-to-bank Euribor lending rates fixed lower at 0.919 percent, while overnight dollar rates dipped to 0.33857 percent from 0.33929 percent. Euribor rates, like counterpart Libor bank-to-bank rates , are currently under investigation after it emerged a number of banks were falsely submitting the Libor rates they pay. Banks transferred almost half a trillion euros from the ECB's deposit facility to their current accounts at the central bank when its zero deposit rate came into force last week. But with the monthly reserves cycle now in its stride and fewer options available for banks to juggle their funding, the money has now started to trickle back again. A total of 382 billion euros was parked in the ECB's deposit facility overnight. Moving in the other direction, the amounts in banks' current accounts dipped to 490.8 billion euros.

Press digest australian business news april 10

´╗┐April 10 Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW (this site)Export statistics from some of the largest bulk commodities ports in Australia have revealed that miners' exports will vastly improve from the natural disaster-affected first quarter of last year, despite industrial action hampering iron ore and coking coal sales in the three months to March. Glyn Lawcock, analyst at investment bank UBS, said the coking coal export numbers were "disappointing" given that the last 12 to 24 months had seen an expansion in port and rail infrastructure. Page 15.-- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is today expected to announce its conditional support of pay television operator Foxtel's A$1.9 billion takeover of rival Austar United Communications. The deal was announced in May last year, but the process slowed when the competition regulator raised concerns about the power of telecommunications giant Telstra, Foxtel's half-owner. Observers said Foxtel would have challenged the regulator in court had it not approved the deal. Page 15.-- A Melbourne-based engineering consultancy firm is assessing a proposed merger with four of the world's largest engineering firms to improve its own plans for growth. "We're undertaking a detailed assessment of the potential for a transformational merger," Dale Bryce, spokesman for Sinclair Knight Merz, said. "Conversations often happen with lots of parties but all we're doing is beginning a process to assess the potential of that merger," he added. Page 15.-- The chief executive of Superpartners, one of the largest superannuation back-office firms in Australia, has announced he will resign when his five-year contract expires later this year. Greg Camm wrote in an email to staff that "the board wants someone to commit to 'steer the ship' for the next four to five years, and given my age and ambitions, I'm not able to make that commitment". Page 17.-- THE AUSTRALIAN (this site)After running for more than 14 years, global funds manager GMO has shut down its local equities funds due to weak markets and a tough economic environment. According to figures from investment researchers Morningstar, GMO's Small Companies Trust had invested A$7.5 million by the end of March and the Australian Equities Trust had A$198 million invested by the same period. Page 17.--

The Federal Opposition is gearing up for a political fight in the Parliament over the country's borrowings amidst revelations that the Federal Government is on the verge of breaching the country's debt ceiling. Labor raised the limit on borrowings to A$250 billion from A$200 billion less than a year ago but is close to exceeding the cap due to a larger than expected deficit. The current pool of commonwealth bonds was A$238.1 billion towards the end of last week. Page 17.-- The founder of Tricom Securities, the brokerage infamous for failing to settle trades in 2008, has returned to the business world by securing a A$200 million contract with the Sydney division of the Catholic Church. Lance Rosenberg, a director of Spring Cove Holdings, has joined a venture organised by developer Philip Wolanski to develop land surrounding a former seminary in Manly, New South Wales. Spring Cove's subsidiary is listed as the builder responsible for the development. Page 17.-- The chairman of Lawson Gold, David Hillier, has secured a deal to search for copper and gold in a joint venture with Mawarid, a conglomerate in Saudi Arabia with links to the country's royal family. "There are a lot of companies (that) will be touting that they have got projects in the kingdom. The big difference is ours are granted mining tenements," Mr Hillier said. Page 18.-- THE SYDNEY MORNING HERALD (this site)

Robert Rennie, chief currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corporation, said investors may begin to "mothball" ventures over concerns about how much larger Australia's pipeline for investment can grow. "The market is beginning to say: I don't think that A$912 billion is going to get any bigger. In fact, I think it's going to start getting smaller," Mr Rennie added. Page B1.-- Senior executives at Westpac Banking Corporation have been informed by new recruit Brian Hartzer, who was a former top executive at rival Australia and New Zealand Banking Group that he expects to begin by the middle of the year. Investors are already beginning to earmark Mr Hartzer as Gail Kelly's replacement to lead the A$63 billion lender. "He's very much on board with the strategy and how we're going to drive this," a member of the bank's management panel said about Mr Hartzer. Page B3.-- The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has finally resolved a decade-long fight against a series of finance and telecommunications firms that allegedly tricked small businesses into leasing agreements for equipment after the Federal Court last week made declarations against two companies and seven individuals. The regulator brought a case forward in 2008 against 28 parties for allegedly selling telephone bundles which the customers mistakenly believed came with free equipment. Page B3.--

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that it will not attempt to block Pact Group from making a A$150 million takeover bid for rival Viscount Plastics. The packaging manufacturer attempted to acquire Viscount in 2008 and 2009 but the proposal was dropped after the competition regulator aired concerns about the transaction. Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, however, said last week that the merged entity would have a local rival for plastic pails and face competition from imports. Page B4.-- THE AGE (this site)Politicians and finance figures have criticised the A$1.3 trillion superannuation sector for its high level of investment in the sharemarket, with the local S&P/ASX 200 falling 13.8 percent in the second half of last year. "If governments in the future of either side are faced with extremely unhappy super funds members  that will generate enormous political pressure," former federal finance minister Lindsay Tanner said last week. Page B1.-- The local stockmarket is expected to open lower today following the release of disappointing jobs data from the United States (US). Shane Oliver, chief economist at diversified financial services firm AMP, said futures trading hinted at a more than 1 percent drop in US shares, with the negative sentiment expected to be picked up by the local market. "The combination of a weaker than expected payroll result in the US and higher than expected inflation in China has set the week off on a bad note," Dr Oliver said. Page B3.-- Julie Southern, chief commercial officer of British airline Virgin Atlantic, said in an interview that the carrier has not seen an influx of Australians looking to fly to the London Olympics. The revelation comes as Qantas Airways reduces its number of daily flights to London from five to three in a bid to minimise its exposure to Europe and its financial woes. Page B3.-- Investors in Ten Network will be looking towards new chief executive James Warburton to turn around the broadcaster's fortunes, having recently endured a 40 percent downgrade to net profits and earnings for the six months to February and a share price that fell from A$1.40 to A80 cents. Mat Baxter from media buying firm Universal McCann said he wanted Ten to better maintain ratings. "Ratings are much more volatile than they were five years ago so they need to give people the confidence that they can deliver consistency," he said. Page B5--