Australian shares retreat on Russia sanction fears

Rising fears of tougher sanctions on Russia, combined with uncertainty about the health of the world’s second biggest economy, pushed Australia’s sharemarket back into the red.
Nanjing Night Net

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index sagged 0.5 per cent on Thursday to 5350.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index shed 0.5 per cent to 5359.7 points, eroding most of Wednesday’s gains.

The losses followed a bleak night in overseas trade, where stock markets started in positive territory but ended weaker after the US and Europe agreed to possibly increase sanctions against Russia over its occupation of Crimea, St George economists said.

But Patersons Securities strategists Tony Farnham said the US-Russian tensions were a ”ready-made excuse” and the reaction of global equity markets was ”beyond reasonable”.

”If Russia pushed further into the eastern part of Ukraine, then sure markets will get nervous but at this stage they’re simply delivering a show of strength.”

Mr Farnham said the Wall Street sell-off was mainly due to technology stocks tumbling.

Investors snubbed Facebook’s $US2 billion deal to buy virtual reality company Oculus and steered clear of Candy Crush creator King Digital, which slumped 15.5 per cent on its first day of trade after raising $US500 million in an IPO.

Locally, Mr Farnham said a sell-off in base metals, which he attributed to concerns about China’s growth, weighed on the market.

Earlier this week, a closely followed indicator, the HSBC-Markit flash reading of China’s manufacturing purchasing index, fell to an eight-month low of 48.1 in March from February’s 48.5. The index has been below the 50 level since January, indicating a slowdown in the sector.

But Reserve Bank of Australia governor Glenn Stevens said during a speech in Hong Kong on Wednesday that investors were fretting too much over ”what are still relatively small movements in monthly PMIs and the like in China”.

Mr Farnham said Mr Stevens’ comments were odd.

”It was interesting that Stevens … said people get too hung up on individual stats. But those individual stats are important because they are giving you the signposts on where the large No. 2 world economy is going and from our neck of the woods it is particularly important because it’s also our major trading partner.”

He said investors would be eagerly anticipating China’s next official PMI reading, to be released on April 1.

Locally, mining stocks declined, with the resource sector slipping 1.1 per cent. Index heavyweight BHP Billiton eased 0.6 per cent to $35.98, while rival Rio Tinto dipped 0.8 per cent to $63.18. Copper and gold producer PanAust lost 4.4 per cent to $1.53, while Australia’s biggest gold producer Newcrest was down 3.3 per cent to $9.68.

Ord Minnett senior investment advisor Tony Paterno said: ”decent size gyrations had become the norm for these stocks”.

”There is a lot of talk about China’s banks and defaults happening,” Mr Paterno said. ”That is affecting the metals prices, particularly iron ore.”

The ASX gained some traction later in the session, mainly thanks to the big banks.

Commonwealth Bank, the biggest company on the ASX, rose 0.2 per cent to $76.56, while ANZ and NAB finished flat. Westpac eased 0.2 per cent to $34.22.

Mr Paterno said in the past two days there had been bank buying.

”I’d say some of the institutions are getting because it’s about 45 days now up until Westpac, ANZ and NAB start paying dividend, so you generally see a bit of strength in those stocks.”

But Mr Paterno said volumes were light, and that investors were sticking to the sidelines amid global uncertainty.

”I mean we haven’t even cracked $3 billion yet. Today’s one of the lowest volume days I’ve seen in a while.”

QBE Insurance fell 1.3 per cent to $12.75. Casino operator Crown Resorts lost 1.8 per cent to $16.58, and STW Communications plunged 2.4 per cent to $1.43.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals, the owner of chemist brands Amcal and Guardian, gained 1.6 per cent to 64¢ after its full year net profit almost doubled to $53.5 million.

Lynas Corp surged 25 per cent to 22.5¢, its biggest one day rise since September 2012, after announcing its commercial production and sales of rare earth oxide products at its Malaysian plant would hit a record high in the March quarter.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Moore to help guide Socceroos

Answering the call: Craig Moore. Photo: Paul Harris
Nanjing Night Net

Answering the call: Craig Moore. Photo: Paul Harris

Answering the call: Craig Moore. Photo: Paul Harris

So often the most valuable lessons are learnt in the most difficult of circumstances.

Former Socceroo skipper and defender Craig Moore, who will join coach Ange Postecoglou’s national team staff as a player mentor during the World Cup, knows from first-hand experience the truth of the old saying.

Moore is hoping his background as a player and his experience of the highs and lows of the game will be an invaluable asset to an Australian squad likely to be crammed full of young and relatively inexperienced players during the high pressure environment of the World Cup in the game’s spiritual home, Brazil.

Reflecting on his own career, Moore recalls a night in Amsterdam when, as a 21-year-old, he was playing for Glasgow Rangers against Ajax in a Champions League game. Teammate Paul Gascoigne had been sent off, the Rangers side was reshuffled, and Moore was stationed at right-back where he had to mark Dutch flyer Marc Overmars.

”I was a young player, they [Ajax] were the best team in Europe at the time. It was my worst night of football –  I saw the back of his heels the whole bloody night,” he said. “But the lesson it taught me was invaluable. I knew how to deal with that situation if it happened again.”

The experience made him a better player.

”Your worst moments can be invaluable in regards to your career, as it’s a great learning lesson,” he said.

Moore says his job with the Socceroos will be to help the more inexperienced players retain perspective during the tournament.

”We had a lot of good nights with the national team, and some disappointing nights as well. The game has changed, there’s a real added responsibility in how you carry yourself, as someone who is representing your national team.

“That’s changed a lot from my day, when that profile wasn’t there, and now you can’t really move and you have to be very careful about what you do on the field and more importantly what you do off the field.”

Moore will be with the team during the lead-up and throughout the tournament, someone the coaching staff can bounce ideas off and, crucially, a shoulder to lean on for the players.

Postecoglou, who ended Moore’s career at Brisbane Roar when he took over during the 2009-10 season, was the one who sought Moore out and asked for the position to be created.

At the World Cup draw in Brazil in December, he saw that many of the most successful nations had former star players working with national teams in mentoring roles, and felt it was something Australia could replicate.

“We’ve been to the two most recent World Cups and we have players who have had that experience, it would be foolish for us not to take someone along who had experience of that and an understanding of what’s going to happen,” Postecoglou said.

”He had experience in the media too and I wasn’t necessarily looking for someone who was coaching.”

Asked whether it had been difficult to patch things up with Moore after what had happened at the Roar, Postecoglou said it was never an issue.

”It is never personal with me, I just make decisions that I think are good,” he said. “I was never making a judgment on his career or him as a person – I was making judgments on what I thought was best for the football club.”

Moore concurred, saying that Roar’s season had finished and, in the early months of 2010 he had to leave Australia and find a club to play for anyway as he needed to retain fitness for the World Cup in South Africa later that year.

”I have spoken to Ange a number of times over the years. The biggest problem for me at that time was the way it was reported through the media. There was no real issue. We are both really passionate about the game and we want to see Australia improve.

”I will bring support in helping the players gain confidence. The rewards are massive for the future.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Five extreme activities for wimps

Zorbing in Rotorua.Bungy jumping not for you? Fear not, there are other ‘extreme’ activities you can do in New Zealand with a lower fear factor, Kylie McLaughlin reveals.
Nanjing Night Net

Confronted with the horror of undertaking a trip around New Zealand with a bunch of adrenaline-junkies, I, a self-confessed wimp, deemed it my duty to seek out activities I could undertake that would make me appear more fearless. Alternatively, fellow wimps, you could call this a list five ‘adventure’ sports I tried, so you don’t have to.

1. Zorbing

Rolling downhill in a large inflatable plastic ball while being sprayed with warm water sounds harmless enough, right? Embryonic-like, even? As you’re in New Zealand, adventure capital of the world, don’t bet on getting an easy ride.

In Rotorua, you’re given the option of doing a wet or dry zorb (for wimps) and you can even choose between four track options and eight ride variations. If you stick with the shortest and slowest of the tracks, you can experience something more akin to a cheap thrill, rather than a terrifying ride on the world’s first natural rollercoaster over the rollicking green hills of NZ’s north island. If you do it with a friend, you’re only brush with death may be from laughter. Fear factor for wimps: 3/10 www.newzealand南京夜网/au/plan/business/zorb-rotorua/

2. Blackwater rafting at Waitomo Caves

Although this sounds like whitewater rafting’s evil doppelganger, blackwater rafting is much, much tamer. Planting your butt into a rubber tube and floating through a dark cave in a wetsuit with nothing but a head-torch and glow-worms to guide you almost qualifies a unwinding experience, that is, if it weren’t for your 20 colleagues, of which you are gently reminded when you accidentally bump tyres. There is one small hitch: you have to plunge into the cave’s waters by jumping backwards off a rock ledge into your tyre. Good thing they let you practise the jump first, outside the caves. Fear factor: 2/10 (an extra point for the scary price tag). www.waitomo南京夜网/black-water-rafting.aspx

3. Flying Fox at Gravity Canyon

When friends said we were heading to something called ‘Gravity Canyon’ and described a ‘bungy swing’ that happened in a massive water-containing canyon, my resolute points of “you’re insane”, “over my dead body” and “there had better be a bar” were fired off in quick succession.

About 30 minutes later I was strapped into a contraption 200 metres up the side of a canyon wall with a friend on a ride that, once commenced, promised to give me the closest experience one could have to flying. At this stage my heart taken such a plunge I thought I was going to have to retrieve it from the bottom of the canyon later, after I had fallen into it, but once we set off exhilaration overpowered fear as we flew through the kilometre-stretch of canyon at a speed claimed to be 160km/hr. Surprising, mostly to myself, I had such fun I agreed to go again (only because I didn’t have to climb up the canyon wall a second time). Fear factor: 5/10

4. Tongariro crossing

I don’t care if a team of wily sherpas can carry me to a peak, nothing will convince me climbing mountains is a fun idea. In Borneo, ‘brave’ meant flying smugly past Mount Kinabalu’s peak in a small plane. I’ve heard the horror stories of the march up Maccu Picchu and when I finally get there, it will be on the train. However, a volcano fascination lured me to Tongariro and although it was a good eight-hour hike and a decent pair of hiking boots is required to traipse through volcanic scree at the top, I managed to exchange foreseen death-plunge for mountain-top views of emerald lakes. Warning: going down may feel easy at the time but your legs will suffer later. Post-hike beer is well-deserved. Fear factor: 2/10

5. Ziplining

I was unusually calm about this activity until I realised that trees were quite tall in New Zealand. But by the end of the six-track zips I was heartily disappointed it was all over. You’re well strapped in and at each point you are sent off and collected by burly men who ensured you forgot whatever it was you were worried about in the first place. Fear factor: 4/10 (points are for nasty height) www.newzealand南京夜网/au/zip-lining/

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Late Mail: Kieran Foran in doubt for GF rematch

Injury worry: Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran makes a charge during last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters. The star pivot is in doubt for the rematch on Friday night. Photo: Jonathan Carroll Injury worry: Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran makes a charge during last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters. The star pivot is in doubt for the rematch on Friday night. Photo: Jonathan Carroll
Nanjing Night Net

Injury worry: Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran makes a charge during last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters. The star pivot is in doubt for the rematch on Friday night. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Injury worry: Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran makes a charge during last year’s grand final loss to the Roosters. The star pivot is in doubt for the rematch on Friday night. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Ultimate League: It’s not too late to sign up for our Fantasy NRL game 

Manly five-eighth Kieran Foran remains in extreme doubt for Friday night’s showdown with the Roosters as he battles an ongoing calf strain. Foran trained in parts with the side on Thursday in what was his first run of the week. If he is in any discomfort, the Sea Eagles won’t risk him for the grand final rematch at Allianz Stadium.

Josh Dugan’s return for the Dragons is expected to be at least another week away. The fullback, who has not played since injuring his knee in the Charity Shield last month, did not train with the full squad on Thursday, but he is back running and did some isolated training. Teammate Michael Witt is expected to make his return from a shoulder injury in the NSW Cup. The Broncos should be unchanged for the clash at WIN Stadium on Friday night.

The Eels are likely to be 1-17 when they host Penrith on Saturday night. Back-rower Sika Manu is close to playing his first game of the season for the Panthers.

Canterbury and Melbourne should be unchanged for their clash in Perth on Saturday. The Bulldogs have four internationals – Krisnan Inu, Sam Kasiano, Greg Eastwood and Reni Maitua – lining up in the NSW Cup this weekend. Dayne Weston was on standby for Storm forward Jordan McLean, who has been cleared to play by the NRL judiciary.

Respective captains Simon Mannering (virus) and Robbie Farah (calf) are in doubt but should play when the Warriors face Wests Tigers in Wellington on Saturday.

Edrick Lee (foot) has been ruled out for the season for the Raiders with Bill Tupou taking the vacant wing spot for their match against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium on Sunday. The Rabbitohs have dumped Luke Burgess to NSW Cup while Queensland back-rower Ben Te’o has been shifted to the bench. Fijian international Apisai Koroisau will make his debut at hooker.

Darius Boyd is close to making a return from an ankle injury for the winless Knights against the Sharks. Boyd completed part of the ball work session on Thursday but will still need to prove his fitness for the clash at Hunter Stadium on Sunday. Cronulla continue to be hit with a heavy injury toll but welcome back Andrew Fifita from suspension.

Aidan Sezer will return from a quadriceps strain for the Titans against North Queensland on Monday night.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading

Goddard says Hird is moving on

Expert tips
Nanjing Night Net

Brendon Goddard has confirmed that senior Essendon players requested James Hird to stop talking about the supplements scandal to halt the distractions being caused to the AFL team.

As reported today by Fairfax Media, the suspended Essendon coach was asked to put aside his qualms about the way he had been treated during the Essendon supplements saga in order to avoid ongoing detriment to the team.

The former Saint said members of the Essendon leadership group met on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

“We met … and had a discussion about it,” Goddard said.

“I think it’s important we did and talked about how the players were feeling.

“Generally we were feeling pretty good, but it was more that we don’t need or want any more distractions.

“Although we’ve dealt with a lot in the past, I think … from the footy club’s perspective, and the players, I think it would be good if it was somewhat forgotten about and we move on from it.”

The message from the players’ meeting was then communicated to Hird when he met with the Essendon board on Wednesday afternoon via video link.

“I think the message has been passed on to Hirdy,” Goddard said.

“He’s across how the players are feeling and he’s welcomed the feedback.

“He’s ready to move on.”

Goddard’s comments follow those of Essendon Chairman Paul Little yesterday upon announcing that Hird would remain senior Bombers coach in 2015 and 2016.

Little made it clear that the longer the saga dragged on, the more destructive it would prove for the entire football club, the players included.

“The board is of the view that ongoing publicity is detrimental to the club, the players, the on field prospects of the club this year, and the Essendon Football Club’s relationship with the AFL industry generally,” he said.

“The interests of the Essendon Football Club must remain greater than those of any one individual and maintain the focal point of our combined endeavours.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Continue reading