ASIC to investigate dollar jump a minute before March RBA decision; NSW govt wants more businesses open on Boxing Day: Midday Roundup

ASIC to investigate dollar jump a minute before March RBA decision; NSW govt wants more businesses open on Boxing Day: Midday Roundup

The Reserve Bank of Australia has asked the Australian Securities and Investments Commission to investigate why the Australian dollar jumped in the minute before it handed down its official rates decision for March.

Yesterday, the Reserve Bank of Australia decided to keep the official cash rate on hold this month at record low of 2.25%, after a 25 basis point cut last month.

Fairfax reports the sudden surge led to surprise among currency traders and suspicions of insider trading, with the RBA also concerned about how the announcement could have leaked ahead of time.

The central bank says it has already verified the announcement happened at exactly 2.30 pm, and that all procedures were followed.

“ASIC is committed to real-time surveillance and that market participants should expect it would review any unusual trading as part of routine monitoring and surveillance activities,” said an ASIC spokesperson.

Back in 2012, ASIC’s half-yearly supervision report card showed a major crackdown on insider trading and other market manipulation had been a key focus for the corporate watchdog.


NSW government wants more businesses to open on Boxing Day


Retailers across New South Wales have responded favourably to a move by NSW Premier Mike Baird seeking to deregulate Boxing Day trading ahead of the state election at the end of this month.

The Australian Retailers Association welcomed the push to allow businesses outside a central trading zone in Sydney to open their doors on Boxing Day in a statement yesterday.

“NSW has been a laughing stock within the retail sector for too long now due to the unreasonable trading laws that restrain small businesses to open outside a few areas on Boxing Day,” said ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman.

“I have heard retailers right across NSW expressing their concerns on how they miss out on one of the busiest trading days of the year because of this antiquated laws.”

The proposal by the Baird government would allow all businesses around the state to trade on Boxing Day, although the day would remain a public holiday.

NSW Treasurer Andrew Constance said on Monday the current restrictions are “archaic” as retailers in the Sydney CBD and Eastern suburbs can trade on Boxing Day but those in Western Sydney cannot.

“This is stifling growth in our great state and denying opportunities for people who wish to work the chance to earn some extra income,” he said.


Local shares down on open


Yesterday’s decision by the RBA to keep the official cash rate at a record low of 2.25%, combined with weaker overseas markets, has led to cautious trading this morning.

“Investor attitude towards yield stocks may be the key to the ASX 200 index today. Yesterday’s failure to cut rates could arrest upward momentum in this sector,” said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, in a statement.

“It’s also possible that last week’s option expiry may have created some demand for bank stocks with investors seeking to replace stock sold as a consequence of options being exercised. When this finishes, it may provide another reason for support for bank stocks to fade.”

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 27 points, or 0.5%, to 5906.9 at 12.21 AEDT. Last night, the Dow Jones closed down 85.26 points, or 0.47%, to 18203.4 points.


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