Westfield has decided to sell its controversial 6.5
per cent stake in GPT Group, worth about $530 million, after
holding it for less than a year, reports The Age. The decision to divest the stake, considered unusual for
Westfield, was greeted with relief by the market and by GPT, since
it has removed the prospect of Westfield making a takeover bid.

The RBA directors will earn every cent of their big pay rises in
the months ahead if inflation gets to 4 per cent, says Alan Kohler in The Smage. Do they hold rates steady in the hope that petrol prices are
self-adjusting – because they increase inflation and slow the
economy at the same time – or do they raise rates and risk a
meltdown in the Sydney property market?

It’s difficult to know what Patrick Corp hopes to achieve from its legal action against Toll
Holdings in relation to their joint-venture rail operation, Pacific
National, says Bryan Frith in The Australian. A break up of the joint venture could destroy value, both for Patrick and Toll,
a dramatic and unnecessary outcome and a curious strategy for a company
under a takeover offer, whose usual approach is to talk up its value,
not talk it down.

The Chinese are perceived to always want concessions as a sign from the
other side that it acknowledges China’s strength, says the AFR’s
Chanticleer (in China). So the big unknown when Chinese steel mills
begin negotiating the next round of iron-ore deals is whether BHP
Billiton will be penalised for past attempts to seek higher price
rises. Conventional wisdom says that the Chinese mills will want to
teach it a lesson for no other reason than as a demonstration to others.

In the second decade of a long-running boom, with rural production
recovering and commodity exports soaring, one sector stands out as the
sick man of the Australian economy: manufacturing, reports Peter Roberts in the Fin Review. Amid
the sustained optimism across the economy, manufacturing is faltering
under bad news that begins with the high Australian dollar and ends
with shortages of basic engineering and technical skills.

The Australian reports, Macquarie Bank employees are sitting on share
options worth about $2.4 billion following this year’s share price
explosion, a 77 per cent increase in only six months.

On Wall Street, US stocks closed mixed overnight after a tame
speech
by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan helped offset losses caused
by disappointing consumer confidence and new home sales figures. The
Dow Jones closed up 12.58 points at 10,456 – MarketWatch has a full
report here.

Peter Fray

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