Capital expenditure jumps 6.2% in September quarter, UBS sued over alleged Madoff links: Economy Roundup

Private capital expenditure increased by a seasonally adjusted 6.2% in the September quarter, new figures form the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal.

The figures show capital expenditure came to $28.77 billion during the quarter, an increase of 8.8% on an annual basis. The result has bested a Reuters poll showing a median forecast of a 3% increase.

The fourth estimate for spending was $123.94 billion for the 2011 financial year, representing a 19.5% increase year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the Government has faced another roadblock in the Senate as the telecommunications reform package is set to be delayed due to the Coalition extending debate.

“We have a lot to say about the NBN,” Liberal senator Mitch Fifield said in Parliament, adding that debate could continue into the weekend.

“Friday afternoon seems to be a reasonable cut-off,” independent senator Nick Xenophon has told reporters. Greens senator Scott Ludlum has said the minority party will withstand debate, up to a point.

“We will absolutely allow this debate to run its course but if we’re still there at midnight… the Australian Greens will discuss tactics,” he said. “I think it’s a very bad idea to be making laws at midnight after people haven’t had any sleep.”

GranCorp has recorded a net profit of $80.2 million for the year ending 30 September, representing a 27% increase for the year, while revenue was up 19.9% to nearly $2 billion.

“While crop forecasters are predicting one of the largest harvests on record in eastern Australia, putting total winter crop size at more than 22 million tonnes, harvest conditions continue to be difficult, with numerous rain interruptions,” chief executive Alison Watkins said in a statement.

“So far this season, we have received 3.2 million tonnes of wheat, barley, canola and pulses…This is less than what would be expected by this time in a normal year, and shows just how slow this harvest is.”

Iron ore explorer FerrAus has advised shareholders not to accept an unsolicited offer of $230 million from Wah Nam International.

“Your board considers that the offer demonstrates the significant potential value and strategic importance underlying both FerrAus project and the Eastern Pilbara region,” the company has said in a statement.

Stocks steady after Korea military exchange

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat today, as markets calmed following a volatile trading day yesterday when North and South Korea exchanged artillery fire and military threats – but global fears over Ireland’s debt problems remain high.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 14 points or 0.31% to 4598.7 at 12.10 AEST, while the Australian dollar has remained steady at US98c.

AMP shares lost 0.4% to $5.02, while Commonwealth Bank shares gained 0.2% to $48.23. Westpac rose 0.1% to $21.43 as NAB lost 0.1% to $23.42.

The lead managers of QR National have been listed as 6% holders in the company, although the shares not owned by them and will not be retained.

“These shares do not represent a ‘shortfall’ under the offer or an allocation of that number of shares to the joint lead managers as investors in QRN,” the company said in a statement.

UBS sued over Madoff bungle

A trustee looking to recover funds has sued UBS AG for over $US2 billion claiming they collaborated in a Ponzi scheme with Bernard Madoff.

The complaint states that the bank “chose to enable Mr Madoff’s fraud for their own gain”, even though they identified problems along the way.

“Mr Madoff’s scheme could not have been accomplished unless the UBS defendants had agreed to look the other way and to pretend that they were truly ensuring the existence of assets and trades,” the complaint said. “In fact they were not and never did.”

Madoff’s $US65 billion Ponzi scheme was uncovered during 2008.

Meanwhile, investors on Wall Street are growing more confident about the country’s struggling economy, with retailers signalling they are prepared to spend big this Black Friday. New figures putting jobless claims at a two year low – although new home sales have declined.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 150 points or 1.37% to 11,187.28.

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