Conroy warns Rinehart on Fairfax bid: Midday roundup

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has warned Gina Rinehart not to trash the Fairfax Media brand for other shareholders.

Rinehart is reportedly seeking three seats on the media company board after she recently increased her stake to 18.67%.

Conroy says the mining magnate is entitled to representation on the Fairfax board.

“What she’s not entitled to do is trash the brand for all the other shareholders,” he told ABC radio.

Conroy said an independent charter of editorial independence had been supported over many years by the company’s board.

“If she was to directly interfere and breach that charter it would actually lead to a crisis of confidence among the readership,” he said.

“If the readership deserted then the share price for every shareholder would decline.”

RBA still concerned over European uncertainty

The Reserve Bank is increasingly concerned about Europe, with more uncertainty over the financial situation there causing its latest cut in interest rates.

According to the RBA’s minutes of its June policy meeting, the RBA said there was a likelihood that precautionary behaviour would strengthen.

“Given this, and with inflation expected to remain in the lower part of the targeting range over the next year or so, members considered that there was scope for monetary policy to be a little more supportive of domestic activity,” the bank said.

The RBA also said despite concerns, domestic data had not shown any significant weakening.

“Moreover, there had not been time to assess the effects of the earlier reductions in the cash rate,” the minutes said.

“However, there was clear evidence suggesting a softening in global conditions, and uncertainty about the future in Europe had increased significantly.”

Sharemarket slips on more Europe fears

The Australian sharemarket has opened weaker, after a mixed performance on Wall Street as investors reacted to the Greek election.

At the official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.69% to 4,108.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index dropped 0.68% to 4,155.4 points.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said trading was likely to be subdued today after the weaker opening.

“The extent of positive investor reaction to the Greek election result has been limited by rising Spanish bond yields.

“Rising debt costs are working to counteract any temporary solutions to the euro crisis that might be announced at the G20 meeting or next week’s Euro leaders’ summit.”

Australians worried on personal finances

A new survey from Dun & Bradstreet has shown more than half of Australians surveyed are worried about their current financial situation.

The survey found 69% of those earning less than $50,000 and 62% of consumers aged 50 to 64 are worried about their financial health.

“Our latest research clearly demonstrates that consumers are worried about their financial position,” D&B director Adam Siddique said in a statement.

“This is partly symptomatic of lingering pessimism from the global financial crisis however, for certain demographics it reflects the reality that households are living hand-to-mouth; with very little savings buffer should unforeseen circumstances occur,” he said.

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