Westpac may have announced a record half-year $1.3 billion profit and
its highest dividend increase in a decade yesterday, but the bank
warned of increasing headwind from a slowing economy and tougher
competition, reports The Age.

sharemarket is beginning to understand that profits reported by some
banks in the housing sector will not be sustainable, says Robert Gottliebsen in TheOz.
And although Westpac’s share of the Australian financial system has
slipped modestly but discernibly in the past year, chief executive
David Morgan is quite happy it did, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in The Age.
That’s because Morgan’s focus has been on the profitability and quality
of Westpac’s lending. Morgan is the latest devotee of the Six Sigma
system to help contain costs and improve processing at the bank, seeing
the process as the latest weapon in his arsenal, says Chanticleer’s
John Durie in the Fin Review. The question the market is now asking is whether Morgan is being overly cautious, says Elizabeth Knight in the SMH.

Rupert Murdoch is still playing his cards close to his chest when
it comes to negotiations with fellow media mogul John Malone, but a
deal is expected to be announced within the next three months, reports James Chessell in the SMH.
The News Corp chief refused to discuss plans to resolve a threat from
Malone’s cable group, Liberty Media Corp, after posting a weaker than
expected March quarter profit result yesterday.

Elsewhere, the
NSW opposition claims the prison system’s latest high-profile inmate,
Rodney Adler, was given access to luxuries that less well-known
prisoners have to wait weeks for, reports the Fin. Adler arrived to fresh bedding, a new TV and a hot cup of tea.

Victoria claims it will host more events this year than any city in the
world, concerns are mounting that Sydney’s stadiums and hotel rooms
will be left empty, reports Morgan Mellish in the AFR. NSW’s share of international tourism has dropped in recent years, which raises the question: has the state dropped the ball?

Wall Street snapped a four-day winning streak overnight after General
Motors and Ford had their credit rating cut to below investment grade
by Standard & Poor’s – the Dow Jones finished down 44.26 points at
10,340.38. Marketwatch has a full report here.

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