WCB placed in trading halt; Australian agricultural commodities on the rise; US Fed nominee Janet Yellen says stimulus can’t continue: Midday Roundup

The Warrnambool Cheese and Butter Factory has entered a trading halt while it negotiates with Canadian dairy giant Saputo over a revised takeover bid.

In a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange, WCB said it expects to make an announcement regarding Saputo’s offer today or Monday.

Yesterday, Bega increased its takeover offer, lifting it to 1.5 Bega shares and $2 cash per WCB share. Bega Cheese Ltd, Saputo and Murray Goulburn are all bidding for the 125-year-old company.

The trading halt will end when WCB makes an announcement regarding the talks with Saputo, or on November 19.

Value of Australian agricultural commodities on the rise

The value of Australia’s principal agricultural commodities is on the up, with new figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealing this morning products such as wheat, canola and barley was $33.7 billion 2012-13.

The strongest growth came from canola, up 25% in the last year to $2.2 billion, with ABS analyst Helen Baird saying in a statement the growth was due to good growing conditions and strong demand from Europe and Asia.

Other big rises were cotton, up 18% to $1.9 billion and sorghum increased in value by 14% to $481 million.

Australia’s main crop, wheat, also increased in value by 4% to $7 billion, despite a dry season in Western Australia causing the state’s wheat product to fall by 25%.

The major gains were partially offset by falls in the value of livestock products, with the gross value down 7% to $6.8 billion.

US Fed nominee Janet Yellen says stimulus cannot continue

The White House’s nominee to lead the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, has issued a warning that economic stimulus cannot continue forever, while committing to building a stronger United States Economy.

“I consider it imperative that we do what we can to promote a very strong recovery,” Yellen said at the Senate panel hearing on her nomination late yesterday.

“We have made good progress, but we have farther to go to regain the ground lost in the crisis and the recession.”

Yellen, despite praising the Fed’s stimulus program, said its $US85 billion a month asset-purchase program “cannot continue forever”.

She also noted the US has a long way to go to lower the current unemployment rate of 7.3% and said long-term unemployment levels were at “unprecedented levels”.

Shares lift on open

The Australian sharemarket has risen on open, following a positive lead from overseas.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark had risen by 19.3 points to 5374.7 at 12.01pm AEDT. The Dow Jones last night closed up 54.59, gaining 0.35% to 15,876.22.

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