Spoils and oil. Only another 66.7 points to go before the local market ascends the greasy pole of the ASX200 to top the 6000 mark. If Nasdaq could do it twice late last week and markets in Europe and Asia hit either all time highs, or near multi-year highs in recent weeks, why not the market of the moaning kangaroo?
If it does, it won’t be a record: there’s still a way to go. But the portents are all there for a run up today — oil prices are up 18% in three weeks and iron ore prices up 23% in April, the latter more a dead cat bounce than a sustained turnaround, while oil traders have forgotten there’s another nasty OPEC meeting in June where Saudi Arabia won’t cut production.
Oil markets are focused on the impending downturn in US production and stocks — which is a long time coming. But they seem to be forgetting that the higher oil prices go, the less incentive US shale oil producers will have to cut production, especially if prices top US$70 ($89) a barrel for Brent crude and stay above US$60 for West Texas glug.
Local bulls should watch for the second major speech in a week by Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens, in Sydney tomorrow morning. The Aussie dollar jumped back above 78 cents on Friday night, and if the market becomes convinced there won’t be a rate cut a week tomorrow from the RBA, it could be good night nurse for the market bounce.
Apple also reveals its March quarter figures tomorrow morning, our time. If its full of joy (high sales of iPhone 6 and bigger than expected early sales of the new Watch), then markets could take another big run upwards, regardless of iron ore or oil prices. And if Apple disappoints … well, there’s already talk of revenue being cut by US$2 billion by the stronger dollar — more bad news to come tomorrow morning? — Glenn Dyer
Default rattle not battle: That’s the sound of the Greek default-threat can being booted down a lonely road in Riga, Latvia, on Friday night as all concerned roughed up the Greeks with some tough, diplomatic language, but no more.
Despite early reports suggesting there was some ganging up on the Greeks in the early rounds of the meeting, nothing eventuated at the end except more suggestions there would be no money for Greece if it didn’t shape up and produce a credible list of reforms (are the rest of the eurozone kidding?).
The discussion on Greece only lasted an hour, according to reports, and then it was onto other things, so obviously everyone wanted to be home for the weekend and Greece can go find 1 billion euros ($ 1.3 billion) this week for public service pay and pensions, and 200 million euro on Friday to keep the IMF happy.
The eurozone finance ministers said they would review progress with Greece on May 11 — a day before Greece has to make a 750 million euro payment to the IMF, and yet another deadline.
And now there’s talk that Greek finance minister (and former Sydney University academic) Yanis Varoufakis is increasingly on the outer in the eurozone and at home with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who is expected to become more involved in trying to strike a deal.
To that end, Tsipras and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a telephone meeting on Sunday and agreed to keep talking to try and reach a debt deal — scratch one Greek Finance Minister? — Glenn Dyer
Piech’s failed putsch. Ferdinand Piech, Volkswagen’s long-time chairman, quit on Saturday night after his attempted coup against the car giant’s chief executive officer, Martin Winterkorn failed miserably.
The 78-year-old, the patriarch of one of two ruling families that control VW, resigned after making a second attempt to remove the CEO, a week after his first attempt blew up spectacularly and forced the attempted putsch into the open, much to the embarrassment of German business and political circles.
Piech, the grandson of the VW Beetle inventor, resigned after being told by the company’s main directors he had lost their trust — an argument he tried to use in his attempted coup against Winterkorn, who at one stage was his protege. Piech also quit his other directorships within the VW Group and his wife Ursula resigned from the VW board.
Part of Ferdie’s problem is that the other family at VW, the Porsche’s (the Piech and Porsche families are closely related) didn’t support his coup attempts and sided with the CEO, along with the state of Lower Saxony, which sits on 20% of the carmaker, and the company’s unions. VW reports its latest financial results later this week. — Glenn Dyer
Investor revolt and HSBC bolt. Don’t mention the nasty shareholder vote … anything to divert attention from what the board of lumbering global bank, HSBC, always knew would happen at Friday’s annual meeting in London — a stinging rebuke from shareholders over the remuneration report and certain directors.
News emerged before the meeting that the bank was again looking at its options for either staying put in London, or moving elsewhere — back to Hong Kong and its roots was the best guess. HSBC’s board is upset at tightening regulation, UK taxes on banks and the general feeling no one likes them.
That’s not hard to understand with over US$60 billion ($76.5 billion) in losses in the GFC, and regulators in the US and UK looking at money laundering and other no nos such as using tax havens.
No one really thinks HSBC is going to move — returning to Hong Kong would put the bank too close to the Chinese government, which doesn’t like foreign banks anyway. Singapore, home of the ultra-secret bank account and an aggressive and secretive Monetary Authority, which puts naughty people in jail?
The story’s credibility was further undermined after directors and management confirmed the bank has been reviewing its domicile for six years.
The real story was the investor revolt over pay at the Annual General Meeting, with almost a third of those refusing to approve the remuneration report. This included 23.7% of votes, which were cast against the report, up from 16% last year and 11% in the two years before that. Another 6% of the votes were withheld (not directed).
Three directors also had “no” votes against their re-election reach 10% for each of them. — Glenn Dyer