Top Stories

  • J. C. Penney to shut up to 140 US stores AAP - 54 minutes ago
    J. C. Penney to shut up to 140 US stores

    US department store chain J.C. Penney says it will be closing anywhere from 130 to 140 stores as well as two distribution centres over the next several months as it aims to improve profitability in the era of online shopping. The closures, announced on Friday, represent about 13 per cent to 14 per cent of the company's current store count, and less than 5 per cent of total annual sales. The news came as Penney posted a profit in the fourth-quarter compared to a loss a year ago.

  • Indonesian president lands in Sydney AAP - 1 hour 15 minutes ago

    Indonesian President Joko Widodo has touched down in Sydney ahead of bilateral talks with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Australian business leaders. The president and First Lady Iriana Widodo arrived on Saturday morning in rainy conditions and clutching umbrellas as they greeted Australian officials on the airport tarmac. Improving trade and investment ties is expected to be a key focus of Mr Widodo's two-day state visit to Australia.

  • Dakota pipeline could be up within weeks AAP - 1 hour 15 minutes ago
    Dakota pipeline could be up within weeks

    Oil could be flowing through the $US3.8 billion ($A4.9 billion) Dakota Access pipeline in less than two weeks, according to court documents filed by the developer. It comes as police and soldiers start clearing a protest camp in North Dakota where pipeline opponents had gathered for the better part of a year. Energy Transfer Partners has finished drilling under Lake Oahe and will soon be laying pipe under the Missouri River reservoir, the Dallas-based company said.

  • China denies using devaluation for trade AAP - 12 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.

  • Electricity prices tipped to rise in Qld AAP - 17 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 - 17 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 ...

  • Stocks to watch AAP - 18 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 - 18 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 - 18 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 - 18 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 - 18 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 - 18 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 - 19 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.

  • Vic coal redundancies to open up jobs AAP - 20 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 - 20 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 - 20 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 - 20 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 - 20 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 - 20 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 - 21 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 - 21 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.

  • Bellamy's profit slides 47% AAP - 21 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 - 21 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.

  • New Australia Post CEO to pocket far less AAP - 22 hours ago
    New Australia Post CEO to pocket far less

    Australia Post's next top executive is unlikely to take home the same pay packet as his predecessor, Ahmed Fahour, who announced his resignation on Thursday following a furore over his $5.6 million salary. The Turnbull government has announced a tribunal will now determine the pay and conditions of future Australia Post managing directors. The Remuneration Tribunal was announced the day of Mr Fahour's shock resignation, and will require the Australia Post Board to justify the future CEO's salary is proportionate to the responsibility of the role.

  • Major miners pull share market lower AAP - 22 hours ago

    The Australian share market is lower, dragged down by significant falls by the major miners on the back of weakness in commodity prices. At 1200 AEDT on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down ...

  • Duterte critic arrested on drug charges AAP - 22 hours ago

    A Philippines senator and staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs has been arrested after charges were filed in court alleging she received money from drug dealers inside the country's prisons. Senator Leila de Lima, her former driver and bodyguard and a former national prison official were ordered to be arrested by a local court on Friday after a judge found merit in criminal charges filed by the Department of Justice last week. De Lima, a human rights lawyer before joining government, says the charges are a vendetta against her after she last year led a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings during Duterte's anti-drugs crackdown.

  • RBA on China: 'That risk is out there' AAP - 22 hours ago
    RBA on China: 'That risk is out there'

    Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe is concerned about China's debt levels and the potential for a major slowdown in its economy to affect Australia. Dr Lowe told a parliamentary economics committee on Friday he didn't think China's economy would "fall off a cliff" next year but were long-held concerns about its medium-term stability. "Each year we go along and I get more nervous about the medium-term risks," he told the hearing in Sydney.

  • Graincorp flags strong FY profit growth AAP - 22 hours ago
    Graincorp flags strong FY profit growth

    Graincorp expects full-year earnings to rise by as much as two thirds and underlying profit to more than double after a record eastern Australian crop. Australia's largest listed bulk grain handler on Friday issued 2017 guidance for underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of between $385 million and $425 million - up from $256 million in 2016. It said net profit before significant items would rise from $53 million to between $130 million and $160 million.

  • Cabcharge slumps to half-year loss AAP - 22 hours ago
    Cabcharge slumps to half-year loss

    Cabcharge has slumped to a half-year net loss of $106.75 million after accounting for a writedown in taxi plate licences, its holding in UK's cityfleet network, and impairments in existing operations. Cabcharge will pay an interim dividend of 10 cents per share, unchanged from the previous year, plus a special dividend of 80 cents, both fully franked.

  • Private placement boom on borrowed time AAP - 22 hours ago

    A three-year boom in private share placements in China, a handy way around tighter control of public share issuance, is running on fumes as Beijing turns its sights on the speculative excesses and dubious value the boom has engendered. Regulators have tightly restricted new public share sales since mid-2015, blaming them for draining cash from the rest of the share market while the country's main bourses nosedived, but that pushed more firms into more loosely regulated private placements to raise funds. The private placement market jumped fivefold from 2013 to 1.18 trillion yuan ($A223.8 billion) in 2016, dwarfing the market for initial public offerings (IPO), which raised just 147.6 billion yuan in 2016.

  • Coke supports WHO's sugar guidelines AAP - 23 hours ago
    Coke supports WHO's sugar guidelines

    Coke says it supports the World Health Organisation's guidelines for limiting added sugar, as the company works on repairing its image in public health circles and reshaping its business. Incoming CEO James Quincey also said the company has "outgrown" its namesake cola and is focusing on becoming a "total beverage company". In some cases, a Coke drink could still account for the entirety of a person's daily sugar intake under the WHO guidelines, which recommend people limit added sugar to 10 per cent of their total daily calories.

  • Bannon appeals to conservatives AAP - 23 hours ago
    Bannon appeals to conservatives

    Donald Trump's chief strategist Steve Bannon has appealed to conservatives to unite behind the Republican president as he presses his agenda. Bannon took to the stage along with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus at the four-day Conservative Political Action Conference, telling the gathering, "We want you to have our back" in upcoming battles, and denouncing media criticism of Trump. The early days of the administration have been marked by deep post-election divisions between Trump backers and liberals over the new president's travel ban on refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries, as well as moves to increase deportations of illegal immigrants and to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

  • China a grand currency manipulator: Trump AAP - 23 hours ago
    China a grand currency manipulator: Trump

    President Donald Trump has declared China the "grand champions" of currency manipulation just hours after his new Treasury secretary pledged a more methodical approach to analysing Beijing's foreign exchange practices. "Well they, I think they're grand champions at manipulation of currency. During his presidential campaign Trump frequently accused China of keeping its currency artificially low against the dollar to make Chinese exports cheaper, "stealing" American manufacturing jobs.

  • Energy costs should be competitive: RBA AAP - 23 hours ago

    Electricity prices should be competitive for Australian businesses and consumers given the abundance of natural resources here, the head of the Reserve Bank of Australia says. Liberal MP Craig Kelly told RBA governor Philip Lowe in a parliamentary economics committee hearing on Friday that local power prices were three to four times higher than in Canada's major cities.

  • Rate cuts now a long-term danger: RBA AAP - 23 hours ago
    Rate cuts now a long-term danger: RBA

    The Reserve Bank of Australia says cutting interest rates further to boost growth now could be too "dangerous" for the economy in the longer term. RBA governor Philip Lowe told the parliamentary economics committee on Friday that household debt is rising much faster than income. Dr Lowe said that will both push up debt and put more upward pressure on housing prices, creating "fragility in the economy".