Harvey Norman half-year profit dips, CommBank restores ATM and Eftpos service: Midday roundup

Harvey Norman Holdings has posted a 2.1% fall in net profit to $128.95 million, but has said it is well-positioned to take advantage of future opportunities.

The retailer held the high Australian dollar to blame, as well as intense competition and price deflation.

“This has seen many retailers struggle to maintain margins in the fight for market share,” chairman Gerry Harvey said.

Earnings before interest and tax fell to $188.13 million in the six months to December 31, compared to $219.96 million last year.

The company will pay an interim dividend of 5c, fully franked.

Its shares had fallen 6% to $2.03 in morning trade.

CBA restores ATM, Eftpos services

Commonwealth Bank has apologised for a crash in ATM and Eftpos services, saying it had experienced a processing issue with one of its payment systems late last night but the problem was largely restored this morning.

The bank said on Twitter at 10am that ATM and Eftpos services have been restored.

“We apologise sincerely for any inconvenience this caused,” CommBank said.

Customers were directed to NetBank, phone banking and branches while the services were down.

CBA’s shares had edged up 0.1% at $49.20 at 1130 this morning. 

Andrew Forrest battles ASIC in High Court over continuous disclosure

Mining giant Andrew Forrest is facing off against the Australian Securities and Investment Commission in the High Court over continuous disclosure obligations.

The case is expected to determine the corporate future of Forrest who could be banned from holding an executive position if found in the wrong.

ASIC argues that Forrest and the iron ore company he founded Fortescue broke regulatory requirements and misled investors as to the nature of agreements made with Chinese investors in 2004 and 2005.

ASIC claims Fortescue overstated these deals with investors, which they later conceded were no more than “framework agreements,” or agreements to further talks that they deemed legally binding.

Sharemarket higher in early trade

The Australian sharemarket has had a good morning, buoyed by a solid result on Wall Street overnight.

At 1135, the S&P/ASX200 was trading 0.65% higher at 4290.3 and the All Ordinaries index was 0.64% higher at 4379.

Resources stocks were higher at the open, but financial stocks were mixed.

Opposition seizes on Bob Carr revolt

The Coalition has seized on a reported Labor revolt at Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s plans to appoint former New South Wales premier Bob Carr as foreign minister.

The position became vacant when former PM Kevin Rudd resigned from the post to contest a leadership spill against Julia Gillard, which he lost 71-31 this week.

Shadow Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Gillard’s reported approach to Carr proves that the PM is “utterly captive to the factional warlords and nothing has changed.”

“To have a foreign minister resign from his position as Australia’s minister for foreign minister while he’s in Washington at 1:30 in the morning was bad enough.”

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