THE NEWS WRAP: Westpac seeks to become Australia’s number one business bank by 2017

Westpac has announced plans to topple NAB as Australia’s biggest lender to business by 2017, as competition between banks over the SME sector heats up.

 

The bank has already increased the number of business lenders and appointed Julie Rynski as its first senior executive to manage the sector.

 

“We believe we can significantly expand our share of the market after investing in our business banking arm,” Westpac’s head of business banking, Jason Yetton, told Fairfax.

 

“It’s a big market, growth is improving, and I think we’ve got a good capability in this segment.”

 

China records strong export growth in November

 

China’s General Administration of Customs has released figures showing a 12.7% year-on-year increase in exports during November, beating analysts’ forecasts.

 

Total exports for the month increased to $US202.2 billion, while imports were up 5.3% year-on-year to $US168.4 billion.

 

China’s overall trade surplus was up to $US33.8 billion, up from $US31.1 billion in October and significantly above the median forecast of $21.7 billion tipped by economists.

 

Labor calls for partial renationalisation of Qantas

 

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen has called on the government to consider all options to help Qantas, including a partial renationalisation, after ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded its credit rating to junk status.

 

“A small stake would send the signal to debt markets around the world and to finances that this was a body with which the government had a keen interest. That is one of the options on the table that we’d look at constructively,” Bowen says.

 

However, his call has been dismissed by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who says the government’s job is to create an environment in which the airline can operate profitably.

 

“Businesses have to operate profitably and in the end they have to operate profitably because of their own decisions and from their own resources,” Abbott says.

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down to 5186.0. The Aussie dollar is up to US91.36 cents.

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