IMF predicts 3.5% growth for Australia next year: Midday Roundup

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has forecast growth for Australia of 3% in 2012 and 3.5% for 2013 in its April World Economic Outlook report released yesterday.


The 2012 forecast is down from the 3.3% growth forecast in the previous half-yearly outlook report published in September last year.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott says another downgrade of Australia’s economic growth rate by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows the local economy is “underperforming”.

Westfield sells eight US centres

Property giant Westfield has sold eight of its United States’ centres in order to pay down debt and invest in new projects.

The sale of the centres totalled $US1.15 billion. Company shares rose over 1% to $9.01 this morning.

Co-chief executive Peter Lowy said in a statement the sales were part of the company’s long-term strategic plan.

“The proceeds from the transactions will initially pay down corporate debt and then be redeployed in higher-return redevelopment opportunities in the US, including the World Trade Centre,” Lowy said in a statement.

“We have previously flagged the potential divestment of non-core assets in the US and this transaction is an important step in the repositioning of our portfolio to major retail assets with strong franchise characteristics.”

ASIC permanently bans Victorian man from providing financial services

ASIC has permanently banned a former insurance broker, Alan Charstone, from providing financial services after finding he engaged in dishonest and deceptive conduct.

The watchdog found Charstone failed to place adequate insurance cover for clients and misappropriated client funds in his role as an authorised representative of Insurance Advisernet Australia.

“It’s important brokers in the insurance industry act with honesty and integrity as they are entrusted to help consumers and small businesses make important financial decisions. Having no insurance cover or inadequate insurance cover can have a devastating impact on consumers or small businesses if something goes wrong,” ASIC Commissioner, Peter Kell, said.

Australian sharemarket opens higher

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher following positive growth forecasts by the International Monetary Fund.

At the official market opening this morning, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index gained 1.14% to 4,338 points and the broader All Ordinaries Index increased 1.10% to 4,416.9 points.

Turnbull criticises snail’s pace of NBN rollout

The rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN) is happening “with the determination and velocity of an arthritic snail”, says Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull.

“It will be very expensive for taxpayers but it will not result in more affordable broadband for consumers,” he told ABC radio.

“What’s becoming very obvious is that the risks associated with the NBN are getting greater – the risks of financial blow-outs, roll-out delays.”


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