Important news for sharemarket investors everywhere lobbed late
last week on Wall Street, says Malcolm Maiden in The Age.
America’s Labor Department announced that
the economy’s productivity (output as a ratio of hours worked)
leapt by no less than 4.1% in the September quarter –
twice as fast as in the June quarter – as output jumped 4.2%, and hours
worked barely rose at all. They were much stronger numbers than
expected, and highly
promising ones. Productivity growth in the US is underpinning continued
economic expansion in America, growth for the industrialising Asian
economies, led by China, and in turn growth for the economies that
are supplying them raw materials, including Australia. It has been
said that America’s economy, and others including Australia’s, are
in a “Goldilocks scenario” – where their performance is
neither too hot nor too cold.

The Fin Review reports that David Murray will become Australia’s
most powerful investor as the chairman of the new future fund, which is
expected to have up to $140 billion under management within the next 15
years. Murray will have a significant role in determining how the fund
will operate and is already advising the government on the legislation
that will govern the fund.

Also in the AFR, the Seven Network is making an aggressive bid
to boost advertising revenue next year, telling media buyers it wants
to raise ad rates 11% despite slowing demand for TV advertising. It
also plans to drop the discounts and free ads it uses to lure big
advertisers, which would kick the increase to about 16%.

A loophole allowing foreign insurance companies to operate
unregulated in Australia is still open more than four years after
the collapse of HIH, reports The SMH. Industry umbrella bodies such as the Insurance Council of
Australia and the National Insurance Brokers Association say they
are concerned about the time being taken by the Federal Government
to introduce safeguards and limit the chance of policy holders being
left unprotected.

And Australian negotiators have spent the year at loggerheads with
potential Chinese buyers who they say refuse to accept that the LNG
market has moved since Guangdong province signed up in 2002 for $US25
billion of liquefied gas from the North West Shelf, reports The Australian. Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has
warned China it risks missing out on further Australian LNG deals if it
does not sign up soon.