Monthly Archives: May 2019

And that’s because there are just too many factors, often unpreidcatble factors, influencing currency moves.

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Interest rates, global politics, economic growth and carry-trades are just some of the variables.

The recent slide in the Australian dollar has been attributed to the escalating political uncertainty in Greece.

But last week’s better than expected local unemployment numbers prevented the Australian dollar’s slide to below parity.

Today though, for the first time since December 20th, the Australian dollar fell to below parity with the US dollar, as Greece fails to form a government, and speculation increases of a Greece split from the Euro.

So is anyone game enough to predict where the Australian dollar is going now?

NAB this afternoon, revised its forecasts, and is now expecting the Aussie to hit US$0.97 by the end of the year because of the turmoil in Europe.

But, at the same time, Reserve Bank deputy governor, Philip Lowe said at a lunchen, that he thinks it is highly likely for the exchange rate to remain high for some years to come.

Much of that will depend on a recovery in economy growth, and a soft landing in China, which demands the bulk of Australia’s commodities, thus keeping the local currency strong.

To a smaller degree, interest rates also have an impact on the Australian dollar, because higher rates attract more foreign investors to our currency because they’ll get a higher return on their investment.

The market however, is now pricing in a 70 per cent chance of another interest rate cut in June.

Economists at NAB today, have added another interest rate cut to their predictions. They’re now penciling in two rate cuts, one in August, with a follow up in September.

On the upside, lower interest rates should help the housing sector.

Today, the number of new owner occupied housing loans rose for the first time in three months, up 0.3 per cent in March.

First home buyer activity fell though, from a 23- month high of 20.9 per cent to 16.4 per cent.

According to Commsec, there’s also been a fall in how much money Australians are prepared to borrow for a home loan at $284,500, down 4.7 per cent on a year ago.

And with the major banks failing to pass on any Reserve Bank interest rate cut in full, it should be no surprise that there’s been a shift in consumer attitudes towards fixed rate loans, which now account for 14.5 per cent of all loans in March, a four year high.

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Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar says the Afghan presidential elections planned for April are a “waste of time” and has asked people not to take part.

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“As to the deceiving drama under the name of elections 2014, our pious people will not tire themselves out, nor will they participate in it,” Mullah Omar said in a statement released ahead of the Muslim festival Eid-al-Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.

“These nominal rulers are not elected through the ballots of the people. Rather they are selected as per the discretion of Washington,” he said.

The presidential election has been seen as critical to the future stability of Afghanistan, in a year when the NATO-led international troops are due to withdraw.

In the statement, Omar said the Taliban spring offensive was “continuing with great success,” claiming that many areas of the country were under their control.

The offensive, which started in May, has seen a large number of attacks throughout the country.

In his Eid message, the Taliban leader also outlined his vision for a future Afghanistan.

“An Islamic system and complete independence are values which we are not willing to strike a deal on with anyone,” Mullah Omar said.

He said the Taliban does not want to monopolise power.

“Rather we believe in reaching understanding with the Afghans regarding an Afghan-inclusive government based on Islamic principles,” Omar said.

Omar said the aim of the talks with the US through the political office which they established in Doha in May “is to put an end to the occupation of Afghanistan”.

While there has been no mention of progress by either side, politicians and Afghan government officials have expressed hope that talks will proceed after the Eid festival this weekend.

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West Coast skipper Darren Glass has given the biggest hint yet that he wants to play on next year, but the 32-year-old says even his wife doesn’t know which way he’ll end up going.

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Glass remains near the peak of his powers despite entering the final stages of his glittering career, and says he will make a final decision on his future within the next month.

The four-time All-Australian has captained West Coast since 2008, and said he would be keen to stay on in the role should he extend his career into a 15th season.

Glass was keeping his cards close to his chest when he fronted a press conference on Monday.

But when asked whether he was better than a 50-50 chance to play on, Glass gave fans a slight glimpse into his thinking.

“Probably, yeah. I’m enjoying my footy,” Glass said.

“I tell my wife nothing either. She wants to know what I’m doing.

“We’ll make the decision over the next month.

“The concern for me is can I play good footy next year. That’s what it’s about.

“I want to make sure I can do that. I want to be really confident.

“Hopefully it’s deep into a finals series.”

Glass has played 258 games since making his debut in 2000, placing him fifth on the club’s all-time games played list.

Only Glen Jakovich (276), Dean Cox (269), Guy McKenna (267) and Drew Banfield (265) sit above him.

Fellow veteran Cox is also expected to play on next year, while wingman Andrew Embley is seeking a new deal.

Although West Coast have slid dramatically out of flag contention this year, Glass was confident the club’s premiership window would open once again in 2014.

Glass has been a rock in defence for West Coast over the past decade, winning three best-and-fairest awards to go with his four All-Australian jumpers.

Although the 192cm veteran forged his reputation as one of the competition’s best key defenders, he is equally adept at taking on smalls.

In Saturday’s win over Gold Coast, Glass kept a tight leash on Gary Ablett in the first quarter when the star Suns midfielder was sent forward.

The match-up was enough for Glass to reassess his future.

“I was ready to retire chasing Gary Ablett around,” Glass joked.

West Coast sit two wins adrift of eighth spot, and will need to beat Essendon at Etihad Stadium on Sunday if they are to keep their slim finals hopes alive.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Thursday a “red line was crossed” in Syria and called for international action following reports of a massacre involving chemical weapons.

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“We call on the international community in this situation where the red line was crossed long ago to intervene as soon as possible,” he said in Berlin after talks with his German counterpart Guido Westerwelle.

Davutoglu said the United Nations Security Council had been too hesitant in the face of the bloodletting in Syria.

“If we don’t manage to pass sanctions, we will lose the power to create a deterrent,” he said, speaking through an interpreter.

“If we don’t act decisively, even worse massacres will follow.” Westerwelle said the reports of the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime were still unverified. “But if they were to be confirmed that would be monstrous,” he said.

He called for UN weapons inspectors “to be granted immediate access to investigate the allegations”.

The main Syrian opposition group claims that as many as 1,300 people were killed in a chemical weapons attack Wednesday on rebel areas near Damascus. Videos distributed by activists, the authenticity of which could not immediately be verified, showed medics attending to suffocating children and hospitals being overwhelmed.

UN Security Council members are seeking “clarity” on the suspected chemical weapons attack.

But diplomats said the council did not adopt a formal declaration because of opposition from Russia and China, which have for the last two years blocked any condemnation of their ally in Damascus.

Westerwelle said he “regretted” the Russian and Chinese position, saying it met with “incomprehension” from Western powers.

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Business, industry, unions and farmers are urging all lenders to pass on in full the latest interest rate cut by the central bank.

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The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut the cash rate by 25 basis points to an all-time low of 2.5 per cent at its monthly board meeting, as widely anticipated by economists.

It was the first reduction since May.

RBA governor Glenn Stevens had previously noted that the inflation outlook could provide some scope to ease policy further, should that be required to support demand.

“At today’s meeting, and taking account of recent information on prices and activity, the board judged that a further decline in the cash rate was appropriate,” he said in a statement.

It will continue to assess the outlook and adjust policy as needed to foster sustainable growth in demand and inflation outcomes consistent with the inflation target over time.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said the RBA’s decision will be a huge relief to households and businesses.

“It means that families struggling with cost of living at the moment will be able to cope that little bit better,” she told reporters in Melbourne.

National Farmers’ Federation president Duncan Fraser said the rate cut was “great news” for farmers and agribusinesses.

“We urge all banks to pass today’s rate cut on in full,” he said in a statement.

National Australia Bank was quick to oblige among the big four banks, lowering its standard variable home loan rate by the full 25 basis points to 5.88 per cent.

The Housing Industry Association has been urging the RBA to reduce interest rates in order to add fuel to what is still a fledgling residential construction recovery.

“Clearly a rate reduction was needed,” its senior economist said in a statement.

But he said interest rates are only one part of the housing equation, and that the weakness in the market is being compounded by the huge tax burden on new home building, impediments on releasing suitable residential land, and excessive regulation of the industry.

“We look forward to these issues being addressed during the election campaign,” he said.

Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman described the RBA as stepping in to “save the furniture”, especially in the face of a lack of economic leadership and an upcoming election campaign.

“The RBA have provided some relief to Australian retailers, although it is concerning that this cut has come on the back of flat retail sales, predictions of rising unemployment and falling consumer and business confidence,” he said in a statement.

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