The Australian sharemarket is about to undergo its most
significant transformation in over a decade, reports The SMH. As trading screens across the country spark into life, poised to
start trading at 10 this morning, there will be one notable
difference. Brokers will no longer be able to see which firms are
placing orders or making trades. The broker identifier code will be
replaced with a generic identifier, “777-7.” But fund
managers and small stockbroking firms have accused the ASX of putting
profit before regulation with the new rules that prevent investors from
identifying which brokers are behind daily share-trading activity,
reports The Fin Review. Some firms fear that the changes, which
take effect from today, will consolidate the dominance of large
institutional broking firms and reduce competition.

Bereft of large deals for the past two years, the banking sector may
enter the spotlight just as investors are starting to wind down for the
December/January holiday period, says Joyce Moullakis in the AFR.
Most talk centres on UK banking heavyweight HBOS which has been touted
as running the ruler over Gail Kelly’s St George Bank, while ANZ and
Insurance Australia Group are understood to be putting the finishing
touches to China deals.

Mandating access to Telstra’s copper telephone network and
regulating prices below cost courts commercial disaster and is a recipe
for stagnation in the market, reports The Age. Jeffrey
Eisenach, chairman of CapAnalysis, an economic think tank and
consultancy based in Washington DC, says that if the collapse of
AT&T and MCI in the US is any guide, the regulatory policies being
pursued by the ACCC could
destroy rather than guarantee healthy competition with Telstra.

And the federal government should have the right to
direct the investment of the Future Fund, according to its inaugural
chairman David Murray. In an interview with The Australian, the former chief executive of the
Commonwealth Bank made it clear he did not see the fund operating at
arm’s length from government like the Reserve Bank. But he also made it
clear that he did not expect the Government to “overly influence” its
day-to-day work.