Australia

Tees Valley Lithium struck a preliminary deal to supply raw materials to the preferred buyer of collapsed UK battery startup Britishvolt Ltd., Bloomberg News reported. The early-stage lithium refiner signed a memorandum of understanding to supply toll-processed lithium to Recharge Industries, which has been selected as the preferred bidder for the majority of the insolvent battery firm’s business and assets. Tees Valley plans to produce the lithium at a refinery in the northeast of England that’s set to start operation in 2025.
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The Reserve Bank of Australia delivered a ninth consecutive increase in interest rates and signaled more to come, suggesting global central banks are headed down different paths as their battle with inflation enters a new phase, the Wall Street Journal reported. The latest increase of 0.25 percentage point took Australia’s benchmark interest rate to 3.35% from 3.10% and marked the first time that the RBA had tightened policy at nine straight meetings of its board. Explaining the move, ​RBA ​Gov. Philip Lowe said inflation was at its highest level in more than three decades.
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Australia outlined plans to arm its officials with more tools to police the volatile crypto sector, including additional manpower for the securities regulator in the wake of the global implosion of the FTX exchange, Bloomberg News reported. The Australian Securities & Investments Commission is expanding its digital-asset team and enforcement measures, Treasurer Jim Chalmers said in a statement Friday. The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is boosting efforts to curb scams after a spate of demands for crypto ransoms.
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Relentlessly rising rents, eight consecutive interest rate hikes, surging living costs and devastating natural disasters over the past few years in Australia have inflamed what was already among the world's least affordable rental markets, Reuters reported. Every state capital city is experiencing a decline in rental affordability this year, according to the annual Rental Affordability Index report published by SGS Economics and Planning.
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Australian employment surged by more than three times economists’ estimates in November and unemployment held at a 48-year low, bolstering the case for the Reserve Bank to raise interest rates further in 2023, Bloomberg News reported. Government bond yields rose after the economy added 64,000 roles, trumping a forecast 19,000 gain, official data showed Thursday. The participation rate climbed to 66.8%, matching a record, while unemployment stayed at 3.4%.
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After winning over some of the biggest retirement plans in the US, private credit managers have found new fertile ground for their investment pitch: Australia’s $2.3 trillion pension industry, Bloomberg News reported. Four of the top-10 pensions Down Under -- Australian Retirement Trust, HostPlus, UniSuper and Colonial First State -- are making significant increases to their private credit allocations, according to recent statements and interviews with Bloomberg News. AustralianSuper, the nation’s largest, is midway into a three-year push to triple its allocation.
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Australian retail sales declined for the first time this year in October, suggesting that households are finally beginning to feel the strain of faster inflation and rising interest rates, Bloomberg News reported. Sales dropped 0.2% from September, confounding economists’ estimates for a 0.5% gain, Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed Monday. No one predicted a decline, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia coming closest, forecasting no change.
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Former Comanchero bikie boss Mohamad “Mick” Hijazi is facing bankruptcy at the hands of the taxation watchdog after allegedly failing to cough up more than $500,000 in debt, WAToday reported. Federal Court documents show that the Australian Taxation Office is pursuing a sequestration order against the 47-year-old’s estate in a bid to recoup the funds owed. The court action relates to a $556,165 bill Hijazi was handed by the New South Wales District Court, but allegedly failed to pay.

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For two hours in a parliamentary committee room, the Reserve Bank on Thursday came face to face with the reality created by the economic and political turmoil of the past two years, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. The RBA is central to the economic turmoil – soaring prices, interest rates climbing at their fastest rate in a generation, falling house values – that is vexing central banks around the world. But the political turmoil, driven in part by the nation’s economic backdrop, is a little alien to the monetary policy mandarins of Martin Place.

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The head of Australia's central bank on Tuesday said further increases in interest rates would likely be needed to tame inflation, and it was ready to go faster on hikes or to pause for a time if necessary, Reuters reported. In a speech in Tasmania, Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) Governor Philip Lowe said the policy making board was aware that rates had risen sharply in a short period of time and this was combining with high inflation to pressure household budgets.
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