Finance News Update, what you need to know

  • 05/19/2019

WORLD FINANCE UPDATE:

The Australian dollar is stronger against the greenback, which traded poorly despite better-than-expected economic data.

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At 0630 AEDT on Monday, the local unit was trading at 71.47 US cents, up from 71.12 cents on Friday.

And the Australian share market looks set to open flat after Wall Street closed hardly changed after a lift in tech stocks offset a renewed drop in oil prices.

At 0645 AEDT on Monday, the share price futures index was down one point at 4,919.

ELSEWHERE:

LONDON – Prime Minister David Cameron has met senior ministers to win endorsement of an EU deal he hopes will persuade voters to ratify Britain’s membership of the world’s largest trading bloc.

SHANGHAI – China has removed the head of its securities regulator following a turbulent period in the country’s stock markets, appointing a top state banking executive as his replacement, as leaders move to restore confidence in the economy.

SAO PAULO – The Brazilian government has announced more than $A8 billion in spending cuts in its 2016 budget amid the country’s worst recession in decades.

LA PAZ – Repsol SA has discovered 4 trillion cubic feet of possible natural gas reserves in Bolivia that it will start tapping in 2019, the government and company say – a finding that could boost the Andean country’s reserves by 40 per cent.

BOGOTA – Citibank is planning to sell the consumer banking operations it has run for a century in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia as South America’s three biggest economies suffer a major downturn.

SAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo’s board has hired three investment banking firms to evaluate potential bids for its internet operations in the clearest sign yet that CEO Marissa Mayer may not have much more time to turn around the struggling company.

FRANKFURT – US authorities have asked the German carmaker Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way of making up for its rigging of emission tests.

COPENHAGEN – Sweden’s Volvo Cars says it is recalling 59,000 cars in 40 markets because of faulty software that can briefly shut down the engine and electric system while driving.

Trump denies hand in Bush’s exit

  • 05/19/2019

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who has for months rained withering ridicule on onetime party favourite Jeb Bush, is refusing to take responsibility for the former Florida governor’s exit from the 2016 White House race.

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“I just don’t know what did him in,” Trump, who won South Carolina’s Republican primary election handily on Saturday, said in an interview on CNN on Sunday.

Trump had repeatedly made Bush the target of pointed attacks throughout his campaign for the Republican nomination to run in the November 8 general election, labelling him “weak,” “low-energy” and “an embarrassment” to the Bush political dynasty.

On Sunday, Trump denied any role he may have played in taking down Bush, who ended his campaign on Saturday night after a fourth-place finish in South Carolina.

“Jeb fought very hard,” the billionaire businessman said.

“It wasn’t his time. That’s all.”

Bush, the brother of one president and the son of another, had prided himself as the only candidate to attack Trump head-on throughout the campaign and frequently accused him of lacking ideas.

He appeared to take one last jab at Trump in his concession speech on Saturday, saying “Despite what you may have heard, ideas matter. Policy matters.”

Sounding less like his normally combative self, Trump on Sunday credited Bush in a pair of interviews with having fought hard in the campaign and called him “very capable.”

“Those last couple of weeks he was on television so much, I was looking, I’d say, ‘Man, I’ve never seen anything like this,'” Trump said on CNN.

He did, however, chide Bush for having run “brutal” negative ads against him, saying he was “a little bit offended.”

“So, you know, this is a tough business, I will tell you,” the billionaire real-estate mogul said of presidential politics.

“I think real estate in Manhattan is a lot easier.”

Kerry, Lavrov reach Syria ‘deal’

  • 05/19/2019

US Secretary of State John Kerry says he and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov have reached a provisional agreement on terms of a cessation of hostilities in Syria, with the sides closer to a ceasefire than ever before.

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But he indicated on Sunday there were still issues to be resolved and he did not expect any immediate change on the ground.

It comes as twin car bombs claimed by Islamic State killed at least 57 people in Homs on Sunday, and bombings killed at least 30 in a suburb of Damascus.

Russian air strikes launched in September against rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad have exacerbated suffering and destruction in Syria, where a five-year-old civil war has killed more than a quarter of a million people.

Assad said on Saturday he was ready for a ceasefire on condition “terrorists” did not use a lull in fighting to their advantage and that countries backing insurgents stopped supporting them.

The Syrian opposition had earlier said it had agreed to the “possibility” of a temporary truce, provided there were guarantees Damascus’s allies including Russia would cease fire, sieges were lifted and aid deliveries were allowed country-wide.

“We have reached a provisional agreement in principle on the terms of a cessation of hostilities that could begin in the coming days,” Kerry told a news conference in Amman with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh on Sunday.

“The modalities for a cessation of hostilities are now being completed. In fact, we are closer to a ceasefire today than we have been,” said Kerry, who was also to meet King Abdullah.

But he repeated the US position that Assad had to step down.

Assad’s fate has been one of the main points of difference between Washington and Russia, the Syrian leader’s main international backer. Russia recently has begun to say Syrians should decide on whether Assad should stay or not, but it continues to support Damascus with air strikes.

Kerry said he had spoken to Lavrov on several occasions, including earlier on Sunday, and that he anticipated US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin would talk in the coming days to complete the provisional agreement in principle.

Australian historian transforms living room into war museum

  • 05/19/2019

 

First soldiers killed in WWI remembered 100 years on

Brad Manera is a historian for the Anzac Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park.

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But he has also set up a museum of his own – in his living room.

 

Life-like models of soldiers crouch behind the couch, and shelves full of hats, clothing, medals and black-and-white photographs overflow into the spare rooms of his townhouse in the inner west Sydney suburb of Newtown.

 

Mr Manera says he started collecting relics from the wars as a way of honouring family members who served in the war.

 

“I can explore their lives through the documents that are left behind,” he said.

Mr Manera grew up in Australia in the 1960s, when many of the veterans from the first and second World Wars were still alive.

 

“These people had stories and experiences of a world beyond Australia,” he said.

 

“The houses were full of stuff: old photographs that reminded them of their parents or where they had been in their lives.

“So it gave me an appreciation for objects. I just really enjoyed having things around.”

Mr Manero hosts groups of students on trips to battlefields overseas. He says the experience can be eye-opening.

One student paid a visit to her great-grandfather’s grave in the Somme Valley in France.

The teenager had grown up with stories about her great-grandfather told by her elderly grandmother.

 

“And I guess that coloured her impressions because when she was finally standing there at the headstone, and the man’s age is 27, suddenly she realised [that] war isn’t about old men on Anzac Day.

“…They represent the loss of the youth of our nation.”

 

In 1914, Australia was a young nation, having federated just over a decade earlier in 1901. However, loyalty to the mother-country remained strong.

 

When Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, Australia was quick to pledge support.

 

Shortly before he was elected prime minister, Andrew Fisher vowed to “defend (Britain) to the last man and the last shilling.”

 

By the end of 1918, some 60,000 Australians had been killed.

 

“The war reached into every home in Australia during the great war. And for a generation afterwards there were people dying of war-caused injuries.

“People [were] living with the traumas of what they have lived through on the on the Western front,” he said.

 

Mr Manero says it is also important to acknowledge that some stories have gone untold, and that Australian history needs to be constantly revised.

 

“We grow up with this notion that Australian soldiers all had surnames like Smith or Jones (and) that they were all about 6 foot tall with blonde hair and blue eyes, but it wasn’t like that.

 

“We are discovering more and more [about the] Aboriginal Australians who served and, indeed, were decorated for their service and tragically gave their lives as members of the Australian Imperial Force.”

Brad Manera speaks to Brianna Roberts about the multicultural history of Australia’s Defence Force

 

Mr Manera says interest in the Anzac legend remains strong. Demand to visit Gallipoli for the 2015 commemoration of the Anzac landings was so high, a ballot was held in Australia and New Zealand for tickets.

 

“Australians are flocking to Gallipoli, to France and Belgium. The groups are getting younger and younger, and they want to visit cemeteries, they want to visit battlefields.

“They want to get closer and to investigate that part of Australian history that really formed the way we see ourselves.”

LG to unveil smartphone with dual camera

  • 05/19/2019

LG is unveiling a smartphone with two lenses and jumping into the nascent world of virtual reality.

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The main camera on LG’s upcoming G5 smartphone will have both a regular lens for standard shots and a wider-angle lens so you can capture more of what’s in front of you without having to step back.

It will also adopt a modular approach to design, so users will be able to pop out the phone’s bottom and swap in new hardware features. Early options include a camera grip with physical buttons to take shots and control video recording.

Sunday’s announcements at the Mobile World Congress wireless show in Barcelona, Spain, come as worldwide smartphone growth has slowed.

Frank Lee, a spokesman with LG’s US mobile business, said phone launches no longer generate the excitement they used to, so “it’s our responsibility to bring some energy.”

Beyond improving just the phone, LG is turning to a whole collection of products that work with it.

LG will have its own VR headset – a lighter version of Samsung’s Gear VR, which came out last year.

LG designed the LG 360 VR headset to work with an LG smartphone that’s attached by a cable. With Samsung’s VR device, the smartphone is inserted at eye level and becomes the headset’s display, increasing the weight on the head. LG’s version still uses the smartphone to process the images, but instead of displaying them on the phone screen, images get sent to separate, lighter displays in the headset’s eyepieces.

LG is also making a 360-degree camera and a spherical robot camera that resembles the BB-8 droid in the new “Star Wars” movie.

Prices and release dates have yet to be announced, though the LG phone is expected in the US in April.