Rio Tinto ordered to pay Rinehart $200 million: Midday roundup

Mining giant Rio Tinto has been ordered to pay $200 million to companies owned by Gina Rinehart following a battle in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

According to Fairfax, Rio will pay $200 million after it was found the company should have been paying royalties in order to honour a 43-year-old agreement.

Rinehart was joined in the battle by fellow mining figure Angela Bennett.

The Supreme Court reportedly ordered Hancock Prospecting and Wright Prospecting should have been paid royalties since mines operated by Rio Tinto were functional.

A spokesperson for Rio Tinto told the publication it was considering an appeal.

“We’re examining the judgment and considering our options,” the spokesperson said.

Australians quickly paying off more debt

Figures from the Reserve Bank released yesterday show Australians are paying down more debt.

The numbers show the average credit card balance fell 2.4% to $3256.70 in the year to March.

The average balance accruing interest fell by a record amount -5.7% to $2294.3. The drop was the biggest annual fall since 2002, CommSec said.

The numbers come just a week after the Reserve Bank chose to reduce the official interest rate by 25 basis points to 2.75%, its lowest point in over 50 years.

Lending finance improves during March

The value of lending finance has improved during March, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the total value of owner occupied housing commitments, excluding additions and alterations, rose by a seasonally adjusted 5.8%.

Total personal commitments rose by 0.6%, with fixed lending commitments rising 10.1% and revolving credit commitments falling 11.8%.

Total commercial finance commitments rose 1.5% in March 2013, following a rise of 0.9% in February.

Shares lift on budget anticipation

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning despite a modest lead from the United States, with businesses anticipating the government’s federal budget announcements.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 5.8% or 9.6 points to 5,219.9, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 26 points or 0.2% to 15,091.7.



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