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Hook, line and stubby

Thirsty work: John-Paul Kelly has developed the Piscatore fishing rod, which allows users to safely store their beer while dropping a line. Picture: Jonathan Carroll.
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You have launched a crowd-funding campaign via Kickstarter to raise $55,000 to fund the development of the Piscator fishing rod. How did it come about?

The idea came to me several years ago when I was beach fishing at Catherine Hill Bay. I was enjoying a beer when my rod hooked up. In the process of putting my beer on the sand and winding in the fish a wave came up and washed my beer over.

John-Paul Kelly

At that point I was resolved in finding a solution to avoid having to suffer that kind of tragedy again – especially because all I caught was a salmon.

What made you think your idea might fly?

I first made a crude version of the Piscator and every time I took it out fishing I’d get positive comments from passers-by and my mates.

After some desk top research I couldn’t find any professionally made products meeting this need. I figured this could be a nice little niche for a summer season or two.

Is the idea unique?

The design is unique in many ways. The Piscatore’s base, orspike, is in the shape of a star picket providing greater in-ground strength with a foot step to assist with driving into both sand and soil surfaces.

The beer holder fits a standard sized beer with a stubby cooler. It also has an imprinted ruler to measure your catch and finally it comes with a water resistant torch for fishing at night.

There is no other rod holder like it on the market.

After your initial idea, how long did it take to get it to launch on Kickstarter?

In total it has taken around 18 months.

My first step was to find an industrial designer who was willing to join me on the journey of a small start-up business. I was fortunate to come across David Powers from Greeneye Industrial Design who was a perfect fit. We worked through several design and testing stages, produced two prototypes and procured a high quality yet cost effective manufacturer.

Completing the business plan was the final step before testing the market.

You’ve raised just over $1000 and you’re chasing $55,000. Are you hopeful of getting it across the line (no pun intended) by your March 23 deadline?

The Crowd funding campaign has proven to be a challenge, mostly because the concept of ‘pre-purchasing’ products via crowd funding is still a relatively unfamiliar concept in Australia.

Otherwise the interest in the product via social media has been extremely positive not just in Australia but also the USA, Canada and NZ. As promotion ramps up I’m hopeful of landing the funds (no pun intended either).

What is your pitch to backers and are they “locked in” financially?

If fishing and having a beer goes hand in hand for you then you can’t go past the Piscator.

The design focus on quality and functionality makes it perfect for both the avid and recreational fisherperson.

A lot of people don’t realise that if you elect to pre-purchase the product via a crowd funding ‘pledge’ that you don’t get charged unless the target funding goal is reached – ensuring you get what you paid for.

Where do you see your biggest potential markets?

In 2007 over 5 million Aussies participated in recreational fishing. In 2012 the USA had over 30 million over the age of 21 participate in the sport. I’m targeting both countries but have a particularly strong desire to achieve success in Australia.

When not brainstorming and developing start-up concepts, you work at NIB. What’s your role?

I’m the Head of International Visitors at nib.

In this role, I run two business segments focused on providing visa compliant insurance to International Workers and International Students entering Australia.

It’s a position that has given me significant experience in managing businesses and participation in new and innovative business ideas

Who has influenced your entrepreneurial pursuits?

My Dad has definitely been a strong influence as a successful entrepreneur in the mining industry, andI’ve been fortunate to work and study with some very creative entrepreneurs in recent years.

My wife Sarah also encouragedme to just ‘have a crack’.

Have you got any other ideas on the boil?

I have several, with some related to the fishing and tackle industry and others in entirely different markets. These are much more complex ideas than the Piscator but the learnings on this one will be invaluable.

Piscatore is Latin for fisherman and the first syllable of Piscatore is a slight variation of a word that’s slang for beer. Was it hard to find a name?

Surprisingly, Dad had some of the best product name ideas.

I liked ‘The P#ss & Fish’ but I thought that might cause some marketing challenges.

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Singer songwriter Jon English dies days before Newcastle showupdated

Jon English performing at Wests Leagues Club in 2007. Picture: Brock PerksUPDATE,6PM: JON English has beenremembered across the world as a multi-talentedsinger-songwriter,actor andstar of bothrock musicals and theatre.
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But the many Hunter friends he made on regular trips to the region arealso cherishing the off-stage memories they madewith their mate,whothey describe aswarm, humble, generous andlarger than life.

“He was mymentor,friend,bandmate,inspiration and a really easy guy to get along with,” said Newcastle-based musician Amy Vee.

“He had so many great stories to tell because he lived such a rich and wonderful life.”

The British born Logie winner, 66,passed awaypeacefully on Wednesday night after suffering post operative complications.

English was in the middle of an Australian tour andwas scheduled to appear at the Beaumont Street Carnivale on Sunday, but announcedon Monday he had to cancel the show “on the advice of his doctors”.

Festival organisers will commemorate English’s contribution to the country by holding aminute’s silence on Sunday.

He had also been planning to spend Saturdaywatching Amy Vee perform in the closing night ofEvitaat the Civic Theatre.The pair met when English saw Vee performinRentat The Playhouse.

Vee said theyhad been in close contact over the past week and she had brought him flowersin hospital.

“I commented when I saw him that he looked well, all things considered,” said Vee, who described herself as“utterly broken” by English’s death.

“We sat and chatted and he was in great spirits.

“He was scheduled to have surgery but it should have been pretty routine, so this is a shock to us all.”

English cast Vee as thelead in his 2009productionBuskers and Angels.She has toured with him consistently since 2011.

“I’ve got so much to thank him for and owe him so much,” she said.

“He took me under his wing and I learned so much from him, it was a great opportunity to hone my craft.

“He’sa national treasure and made such a lasting impact on all the people who met him.”

Lizotte’s proprietor Brian Lizotte wasworking in catering onJesus Christ Superstarwhen he met English.

Over the past 12 years, English became a regular fixture on the Lizotte’scalendar and performed at the venues abouttwice a year.

“He became part of our family,” Lizotte said.

“He loaded in his own gear and wasthe first one to get there and the last one to leave after meeting fans and having a few drinks with staff.”

English was one of the last musicians to perform at the now-closed Kincumber venue and spent an afternoon commiserating on the deck.

Rock City Event Marketing director Peter Anderson said his company had worked with English since about 1980 and scheduled performances every 18 months to two years.

“Jon was a regular visitor to the Hunter and his death is a loss for the region,” Mr Anderson said.

“Most people over 35 would have seen a Jon English performance.”

Mr Anderson said English played at venues including theformerNewcastle Workers Club, WestsLeagues Club, in Muswellbrook, Cessnock and the Central Coast and in musicals at the Civic Theatre.

English often stayed at the Boulevard On Beaumont.

“He had a very strong following here,” Ms Anderson said.“He had aunique voice, he does not sound like anyone else, he sounds like Jon English.

“He had a number of strong hits over the years that he mixed with more recent material and had quality musicians around him.

“He was just larger than life and absolutely able to engage with an audience and share his enthusiasm.”

EARLIER, 9AM: SINGER songwriter Jon English has died, days before he was scheduled to appear at theBeaumont Street Carnivale in Newcastle.

English passed away peacefully on Wednesday nightafter suffering post-operative complications.

The British-born Logie winner, 66,was surrounded by his four children and close family members.

A post on English’s Facebook page onThursday morning read: “We are needless to say completely shocked and devastated by this enormous and unexpected loss. The music industry, and indeed the world, has lost an incredible talent and the biggest of big hearts.”

“We are inconsolable and will miss you immeasurably.”

English was in the middle of an Australian tour, but announced on Monday that he had cancelled his Sunday show in Newcastle“on the advice of his doctors”.

The singer had also been planning to spend Saturday night watching close friend Amy Vee perform in the final night ofEvitaat the Civic Theatre.

The pair met in 2009 when English saw Vee performin Rent at The Playhouse.

Vee has toured consistently over the past few years with English, who she described as a “mentor, friend, bandmate, inspirationand a really easy guy to get along with”.

She said theyhad been in close contact over the past week and she had visited him in hospital.

“I commented when I saw him that he looked well, all things considered,” Veesaid.

“He was scheduled to have surgery but it should have been pretty routine, so this is a shock to us all.

“He was a national treasure and made such a lasting impact on all the people who met him.”

Beaumont Street Carnivale organisers described English as a “seasoned entertainer and no stranger to Hamilton festival stages”, but said the show wouldgo on.

“The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and Beaumont St Carnivale event team are saddened by this enormous loss of talent and will fondly remember Jon on Sunday, commemorating his contribution to Australian culture with a minute’s silence,” organisers said in a statement.

“Jon wasone of the few Australian performers to combine a successful career in music, television and stage.”

Lizotte’s proprietor Brian Lizottesaid he first met English when working in catering for Jesus Christ Superstar.

He said English would later perform at thethree Lizotte’svenues about twice a year.

“He became part of our family,” Lizotte said.

“We’d try to help him load in but he always said ‘No, I’m fine’.

“He was the first one to get there and the last one to leave after meeting fans and having a few drinks with staff.He was a hard, hard working man and his love of entertaining really shone through.”

Lizotte said there was always an upcoming Jon English show on his venue’s bill.

“The fans would come back time and time and time again, we had five year olds and 95 year olds in the crowd,” he said.“Every show was different.

“He will be missed for so many reasons –I’m very sad not to have that man grace our stages again.”

Rock City Event Marketing director Peter Anderson said his company had been working with Mr Englishlonger than any other artist on itsbooks.

“Jon was a regular visitor to the Hunter and his death is a loss for the region,” Mr Anderson said.

“Most people over the age of 35 would have seen a Jon English performance, either a theatrical showor a concert.

“He was just larger than life and absolutely able to engage with an audience and share his enthusiasm.”

English migrated to Australia with his parents at the age of 12 and rose to fame in the early 70s after starring in Harry M Miller’sfirst production ofJesus Christ Superstar.

He released dozens of chart-toppingsingles in the 70s and 80s including Words Are Not Enough,Handbags and Gladrags, Turn the Pageand Hollywood Seven.

His 1979 song Six Ribbonstopped the charts inEuropeand he received several Logie Awards for his acting in seriesAgainst the Wind.

He also played the lead role of Bobby Rivers in 1990s Australian sitcomAll Together Nowopposite Rebecca Gibney andTodayweather presenter Steven Jacobs.

Jacobs paid tribute to English on Twitter on Thursday morning, hailinghim as a “truerock legend” and “gentleman”. Gibney saidhis passing was “so incredibly sad”.

“All Together Nowwas one of the joys of my career. My love to his family,” she wrote.

RIP Jon English. A great actor and true rock legend. An all round performer and gentleman. You will be missed mate.

— Stevie Jacobs (@sjweather9) March 9, 2016Just heard the news about Jon English. So incredibly sad. All Together Now was one of the joys of my career. My love to his family.

— Rebecca Gibney (@rebeccagibney_) March 9, 2016

Details about a public memorial in English’s honour will be revealed shortly.

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ANU seeks private investment in student accommodation

The ANU is calling for expressions of interest from investors in several student residences, including Ursula Hall. Photo: Karleen Minney Students Davidson Ng and Sarah-Jane Collum were some of the first students to stay in the Laurus wing of Ursula Hall. Photo: Karleen Minney
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People will be able to invest in Graduate House, at the Australian National University. Photo: Belinda Pratten

The Australian National University is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment to overhaul its student accommodation.

The ANU will on Thursday morning call for expressions of interest from investors in nine ANU residences: the new SA5 building currently under construction, Burton & Garran Hall, Graduate House, Toad Hall, Ursula Hall, Davey Lodge, Lena Karmel Lodge, Kinloch Lodge and Warrumbul Lodge.

In return for their capital, investors would receive a 30-year financial concession, or lease arrangement, over the student accommodation.

They would also receive a guaranteed return on investments based on student numbers.

But the deal will include an agreement to build an estimated additional 1500 rooms to cater for unmet demand.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the decision to open the market to private investment would enable the ANU to invest its own money in other academic and research priorities.

The move followed extensive consultations and a survey of 4800 residential students in 2015. It found a pressing need to upgrade existing facilities and build more student accommodation.

Student accommodation is seen as an increasingly lucrative investment opportunity, particularly in the United Kingdom and United States.

The ANU and the University of Canberra have already outsourced some of their student accommodation costs to private developers through the UniLodge model – with the ANU call for private investment not having any impact on the existing UniLodge.

But Professor Schmidt stressed the deal would not lead to the full privatisation of accommodation as the ANU would continue to maintain control of management and rental rates.

“Improving and providing more student accommodation on campus is one of the university’s highest priorities,” Professor Schmidt said.

“Students have told us what is important to them, and we are exploring outside interest with these concerns front of mind.

“We cannot meet demand for accommodation on campus at the moment, and we estimate more than 1500 students who wanted to live on campus in 2016 were not able to be accommodated.”

About 5000 students currently live in student accommodation – 3760 of them in the nine residences slated for the investment deal.

Bruce Hall and Fenner Hall have been excluded from the current discussions with investors as the university is simultaneously designing a major redevelopment of Bruce Hall, intended to open in 2018.

Fenner Hall, which is off the main campus, will be relocated to the new SA5 accommodation development, intended to open at the beginning of 2018. The ANU has not yet determined what it will do with the existing Fenner Hall site on Northbourne Avenue.

Professor Schmidt said the university would remain responsible for student admissions to residences, and for all matters related to pastoral care, student safety and security.

The ANU would also include conditions that room rental increases were limited to the consumer price index and maintained at or below 75 per cent of market rates.

It would continue to be responsible for IT access and infrastructure, and prescribe strict maintenance standards.

“Feedback we have from students and residential alumni tell us that pastoral care, the unique culture of each residence, safety and security, cost and standard of accommodation are all critical and need to be guaranteed,” Professor Schmidt said.

ANU has appointed Flagstaff Partners as advisers for the process. Investment proposals will close on May 27.

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

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Barnett milking success for mates

SPREADING THE LOVE: Jen Cloher and Courtney Barnett are using their success to help promote fellow Milk! Records label mates. Picture: Hilary WalkerJEN Cloher is under no illusions. She knows the vast majority of punters on Sunday night at the University of Newcastle’s Bar on the Hill will be there for her partner Courtney Barnett.
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Barnett is the Australian alternative music scene’s “IT”girl right now. Her debut albumSometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit -withitsobservational lyrics,deadpan vocal delivery and 1990s-inspiredguitar -has attracted an audience around the globe.

The 28-year-old from Melbourne has earned Grammy and Brit Award nominations and on Wednesday she became just the second woman to win the prestigious AustralianMusic Prize in its 11-year history.

Rather than enjoy her success in isolation, Barnett has opted to share the ride with her musical compadres from her boutique label, Milk! Records.Last month they released a compilation record Good For You,which featured new tracks from Barnett andCloher andlesser known actsFraser A. Gorman, Ouch My Face, East Brunswick All Girls ChoirandThe Finks.

Courtney Barnett – “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party.”Last week they kicked off their tour in Adelaide, beforetheparty of 24 begantravelling around the east coast “old school style” in a bus. Cloher said the shows are a combination of separate sets and collaborations and were about giving emerging artists an avenue to have their music heard.

“It really comes from a place of being fans of the bands we have on the label,” Cloher said.“Every fanwants people to know more about the bands they love, so Milk! Records is our way to show people new music that may not be as accessible and maybe doesn’t get as much air time on radio. When you get to see them up there doing what they do, it’s pretty exciting.”

Barnett started Milk! Records in 2012 when she released her first EP,I’ve Got a Friend Called Emily Ferris.Cloher followed with her third album In Blood Memory.

“It just grew from there,” Cloher said.“With Courtney’s success, getting bigger by the year, I just saw that the label had an opportunity to grow with what she was doing and shine the light on the community of artists that she plays and hangs out with.”

ACCLAIMED: On Wednesday Courtney Barnett received the Australian Music Prize, which followed Grammy and Brit Award nominations.

Barnett and Cloher were hanging out with an entirely different crowd last month when they attended the 58th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Barnett received a surprise nomination for best new artist, but lost to American pop starMeghan Trainor, famous for her song All About That Bass.

“It’s a very different world, the world of the Grammy’s, perhaps to the one I’m used to,” Cloher said.“I don’t think many Australian musicians imagine finding themselves sitting in the first few rows from the front at the Grammy’s next to Patti Smith and Kendrick Lamar. I was actually like, ‘is this happening’.”

Cloher said they avoided going all “fan girl” by attempting to meet any major celebrities at the Grammy’s and enjoyed relaxed celebrations following the showin a bowling alley bar upstairs from Lamar’s after party.

The musical couple were also nonplussed aboutmissing out on the Grammy to the bubblegum pop ofTrainor.

“We were happy she was nominated,” Cloher said.“There was definitely no sadness on Courtney’s behalf or mine. It’s just great to be nominated and recognised. You just look at the long game and let’s hope she’s back there in 20 years time. I think that’s true success.That success that lasts from continuing to make music and put out great albums.”

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Japanese yield hunt adds to $A pressures

Low returns at home likely to push Japanese investors back into Australian assets Photo: Kiyoshi OtaNegative interest rates and stock weakness in Japan could revive demand from that country’s investors for Australian government bonds, which will put more upward pressure on the local dollar.
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Fixed-income experts say although a surge last month in Japanese buying of foreign, long-dated securities didn’t appear to extend to Australian government paper, higher relative yield in a world of negative rates remained attractive to Japanese institutional investors.

Broader demand for Australian bonds, credits and other assets is among the reasons for the Aussie’s relative strength at the moment.

Others include signs that economic growth is gaining momentum, and recent rises in the price of key commodities such as oil and iron ore.

The local unit climbed above US75¢ for the first time since last July overnight, peaking at US75.28¢, despite an 8 per cent correction in the iron ore price. The Aussie also moved sharply up against the New Zealand dollar on Thursday after the central bank there announced a surprise 25 basis point cut in interest rates, to 2.25 per cent.

The European Central Bank is also expected to further ease monetary policy when its board meets on Thursday (just after midnight Friday AEST), making Australian interest rates even more attractive to foreign investors.

Japan’s Ministry of Finance said this week life insurance companies bought a net ¥1 trillion ($13.5 billion) worth of foreign long-term securities in February, their biggest monthly acquisition since April 2008.

Analysts ascribed a lot of this to end-of-financial-year “window dressing” by the insurers, as they took profits to boost balance sheets before committing to new securities.

However, poor performance by the Japanese stock market and record low yields on long-dated government bonds is likely to push the country’s massive pool of savings, retirement funds and other institutional capital back into foreign bond and credit markets.

Japanese institutions owned a large slice of Australia’s government bond market until about the middle of last year, but sold down heavily as the Aussie dollar slid against the yen amid speculation about further cash rate cuts by the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Demand from Japan remains weak, but could spark up again at the beginning of the country’s financial year, on April 1, says Charlie Jamieson of government bond specialist Jamieson Coote Bonds.

This would add to the pressures – including a bounce in commodity prices – currently holding the Aussie around eight-month highs.

“There is now a structural buyer underneath the Australian dollar because the Japanese are coming to consume our yield, because it’s high-quality yield,” said Jamieson.

“This is unwelcome at a time when the Reserve Bank of Australia is saying we need the Aussie at US65¢ and technically we’re going very powerfully the other way.”

ANZ Bank’s senior rates strategist, Martin Whetton, agrees Japanese investors will again be forced abroad.

However, he said there were no signs yet they would go back into Australian government bonds; instead they were chasing returns through higher-yielding corporate credits.

“The risk-reward of the skinny [bond] yield versus potential foreign exchange downside is too low,” he said.

He said like any investor, Japanese institutions looked at the “trade-off between yield and liquidity”.

“Australian government bonds offer the highest liquidity in the Australian dollar market, given the size of the market and frequency of issuance,” he said.

“However, to move back to Australian government bonds, yields will need to be higher or credit spreads at a significantly tighter level where the yield/liquidity argument falls in favour of the government securities.”

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

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need2know: ASX poised to open higher

Wall Street was higher on Wednesday afternoon as a strong recovery in oil prices pushed energy shares higher. Photo: Richard DrewLocal shares are poised to open higher as oil and metals rallied overnight. $A surges through 75 US cents. NZ cuts key interest rate.
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What you need2know

SPI futures up 15pts or 0.3% to 5170 at 7am Sydney time

AUD up 1% to 75.09 US cents, 85.11 Japanese yen, 68.19 Euro cents and 52.80 British pence

On Wall St, in late trade, Dow +0.2%, S&P +0.5%, Nasdaq +0.5%

In Europe, Stoxx 50 +0.6%, FTSE +0.5%, CAC +0.6%, DAX +0.4%

In London, BHP +1.1%, Rio +0.2%

Spot gold -0.6% to $US1253.82 at 2.59pm New York time

Brent crude +3% to $US40.84 at 2.34pm New York time

US oil +4.4% to $US38.10

Iron ore -8.8% to $US58.02

What’s on today

ECB rate decision. South Korea rate decision.

Overseas data: China inflation (Feb.), China new lending, money supply (Feb.) anytime March 10-15, US jobless claims (weekly), US quarterly services survey (4Q), US household net worth (4Q), US budget statement (Feb.), Germany trade data (Jan.)

Overseas earnings: Dollar General, Linde, Aviva, Carrefour

Currencies

The Kiwi has fallen in the wake of the RBNZ’s unexpected 25 basis point rate cut, putting the official cash rate at 2.25%. In a statement, RBNZ governor Graeme Wheeler said the outlook for global growth has deteriorated. “There are many risks to the outlook. Internationally, these are to the downside and relate to the prospects for global growth, particularly around China, and the outlook for global financial markets. The main domestic risks relate to weakness in the dairy sector, the decline in inflation expectations, the possibility of continued high net immigration, and pressures in the housing market.”

Wheeler said the NZ central bank will remain accommodative. “While long-run inflation expectations are well-anchored at 2 per cent, there has been a material decline in a range of inflation expectations measures.  This is a concern because it increases the risk that the decline in expectations becomes self-fulfilling and subdues future inflation outcomes.

“Headline inflation is expected to move higher over 2016, but take longer to reach the target range. Monetary policy will continue to be accommodative. Further policy easing may be required to ensure that future average inflation settles near the middle of the target range. We will continue to watch closely the emerging flow of economic data.”

The euro erased losses against the greenback to trade at $US1.1006 in New York. “There’s talk of rates cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase program, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy,” said Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management. “Let’s see tomorrow how good Draghi is at playing the market. He has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet.”

Russia’s rouble jumped 2.7 per cent versus the US dollar. Turkey’s lira strengthened for a second day, rising 0.3 per cent. Brazil’s real was the best performer, followed by the currencies of other commodity-producing nations.

Commodities

Ore with 62 per cent content delivered to Qingdao fell 8.8 per cent to $US58.02 a dry metric ton, according to emailed data from Metal Bulletin. The price dipped 0.2 per cent on Tuesday after Monday’s 19 per cent rally to the highest since June. The retreat was preceded by losses on futures in Singapore and China.

Oil rose to near the highest level in two months after a US government report showed gasoline inventories dropped more than expected last week. West Texas Intermediate futures climbed as much as 4.2 percent. Gasoline supplies fell by 4.53 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration said. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had expected a drop of 1.5 million. Crude stockpiles rose by 3.88 million, the EIA said. “This is certainly a bullish report,” said Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at TD Securities in Toronto.

Copper, zinc and other base metals rebounded as speculators piled back into the market on hopes more production cuts would lead to shortages. However, copper-output cuts spurred by lower prices aren’t enough to end a surplus this year and demand won’t catch up with supply until 2017, according to Javier Targhetta, a senior vice president of marketing and sales at Freeport-McMoRan, the largest publicly traded producer of the metal.

United States

Wall Street was higher on Wednesday afternoon as a strong recovery in oil prices pushed energy shares higher. “It’s the same three culprits that have been driving the first two months of the year and that is – central bank policy, China and oil,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer of the private client group at US Bank in Helena, Montana.

Biotechs came under pressure after the US government proposed a test program aimed at lowering Medicare drug costs. The Nasdaq Biotechnology sector was down 1.3 per cent.

Sentiment has improved on Apple. Shares in the iPhone maker have increased 5 per cent in the past two weeks as Wall Street bets the company this month will launch a less expensive phone to boost sales in developing countries like China. Ahead of the stock’s 20-per cent drop that started in December, 41 analysts recommended buying Apple shares while just one recommended selling, according to Thomson Reuters data. Currently, no analysts recommend selling, while 38 recommend buying.

Europe

European shares advanced as investors speculated on further stimulus from the ECB when it meets tomorrow. Glencore paced miners higher, rising 2.3%, while gains in oil helped energy shares rebound from their deepest selloff in two weeks. BHP Billiton added 1.1% and Rio Tinto edged 0.2% higher.

The Stoxx 600 added 0.6 per cent to 339.39 at 4.30pm in London, after earlier rising as much as 1.3 per cent. The equity gauge has recovered 12 per cent from a 2013 low reached last month amid concern over global growth and a rout in banks. Investors are once again looking to the ECB for reassurance that monetary policy will focus on boosting growth. President Mario Draghi said in January that officials will consider the possibility of more stimulus at the upcoming gathering.

“Expectations are quite high for tomorrow,” said Daniel Murray, the London-based head of research at EFG Asset Management. “There’s talk of rate cuts, increasing the size of the asset-purchase program, and expanding the range of products that the ECB will buy. Let’s see how good Draghi is at playing the market: he has built up expectations before and found them hard to meet.”

What happened yesterday

The Australian sharemarket shrugged off a weak lead to resume its March rally, lifted higher by buying in the big banks and a strong day for healthcare stocks. Early in trade the market fell by as much as 26 points before staging a 1.5 per cent turnaround to close at the day’s highs.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended 1 per cent or 49 points higher to 5157.2. The broader All Ordinaries rose 0.9 per cent or 46 points to 5215.7.

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

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Could shares in brickmaker Boral soar if Donald Trump becomes US President?

Donald Trump’s proposed Mexican wall will need a lot of bricks Photo: Tom Pennington Boral is getting the trucks ready… just in case Trump decides to build anything big. Photo: Ben Rushton
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As the possibility of Donald Trump winning the US presidency becomes more realistic by the day, local investors are starting to ponder what a Trump presidency could mean for the Australian sharemarket.

The chief investment officer of Australian Foundation Investment Company, Mark Freeman, believes he might have found the answer.

Referring to the large wall that Mr Trump has vowed to build along the border of the US and Mexico if he wins office, Mr Freeman told AFIC shareholders that building materials companies could thrive under a future President Trump.

“One of the stocks we might have to look at is Boral, because they manufacture bricks in the US and they will need a lot of bricks to build that wall,” he told AFIC shareholders on Wednesday.

Yes, Mr Freeman was joking, but then again, most people thought Mr Trump was joking too when he flagged plans to run for president.

But it seems someone is already onto the “Trump & pump” strategy; shares in Boral have risen 17 per cent over the past five months.

US Bank strategist Bill Merz​ was quoted by Bloomberg last month as saying the election was making markets more volatile.

“The longer there remains uncertainty in the election cycle, the more it can start to creep into investor sentiment and expectations around policy and that can facilitate more volatility,” he said.

While Boral’s link to the US election may be more humorous than serious, some ASX-listed companies do have a bit riding on the outcome of the US presidential race.

BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto will have reason to be concerned if Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders wins his way to the White House.

In late 2015, Senator Sanders jointly sponsored a bill to repeal the law that gave the two ASX-listed miners access to land earmarked for a new copper mine called Resolution.

The Resolution mine, of which BHP and Rio each own 50 per cent, is controversial because it will be built on lands that Apache people consider to be sacred.

Rio and BHP were given access in a land-swap deal that has been bitterly contested.

Despite the situation, neither miner will be making donations to Senator Sanders’ rivals; both have strict policies banning political donations in all countries.

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

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Staying trim with fuel efficiency by propane

IT powers our taxis to supersonic speeds, burns sausages to a crisp, and now propane gas is propelling the leanest, cleanest and greenest outboards on the market.
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New to Australia is a range of LPG-powered four-stroke motors from LEHR, which are said to be exceptionally eco-friendly and cost-effective. Where you normally associate gas with big petrol-guzzling motors, the LEHRs are limited to 2.5, 5, 9.9, 15 and 25 horsepower.

The overhead-valve engines have zero evaporative emissions, easy starting with no choke and no priming, and no carburettor clogging – everything you want in a new-generation motor for the tinnie transoms and yacht sterns of Australia.

Propane, on average, is 30 per cent less expensive than petrol, being domestically produced and commonly in high supply. Gas retailers offer tank exchange programs or bulk-filling cylinders at various locations.

Apparently gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds and up to 70 per cent less hydrocarbons. Added to that, the LEHR motors run a closed fuel system to ensure even cleaner burning.

LEHR Australia will have a display at Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show in May while the nearest dealership is Huett Marine Centre at Cowan – phone 9456 1444.

And speaking of fuel efficiency, also new to the outboard world is a GPS-based auto-trim system from Mercury designed for a wide range of outboards and sterndrives.

Trimming is an under-utilised if not unknown art for many runabout skippers, despite the fact it makes such a major difference to fuel burn, outright performance and ride comfort.

Forget trimming up too early or too late when the boat is getting on plane – the new GPS-based system does all the thinking to make boating easier and more enjoyable.

ART: Active Trim at work, keeping an RIB inflatable running clean and fast. Active Trim is compatible with 40hp to 400hp Mercury four-stroke outboards, two-stroke outboards with SmartCraft.

According to Mercury, those who’ve used the system have been overwhelmingly positive, likening Active Trim to moving from manual to automatic transmission on a car. That means new boaties can drive a properly trimmed craft from day one.

It’s not entirely new – Volvo Penta has an Automatic Boat Trim system for larger vessels that uses Interceptor trim tabs integrated with GPS receivers to deliver optimum levelling. I’ve tried them on a couple of Rivieras and couldn’t go back to the manual system.

Mercury claims its system uses an exclusive and patented control system that doesn’t just rely on engine rpm. Rather, it also factors in boat speed to avoid problems when a propeller cavitates in a hard turn. You certainly don’t want the leg trimming up at that moment.

PROGRESS: The Lehr outboard motor uses LPG. The gas is 50-times cleaner than gasoline, with 96 per cent fewer carcinogenic compounds.

Five selectable trim profiles cover everything from runabouts, pontoons, bass boats and cruisers to high-performance ski rigs.

You just select the profile that’s best suited for the application, although skippers can personalise Active Trim to suit their driving style or changes in boat load and conditions.It’s available mid-March for US boat companies and should be on its way to Australia this year.

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Negative gearing: we’re becoming a nation of landlords and serfs

The negative gearing-driven explosion has made it harder for Australians to buy houses to live in. Photo: iStockOnce we talked about the great Australian dream. Now it’s something meaner: “getting ahead”. The great Australian dream meant owning your own home. “Getting ahead” means getting ahead of someone else. It’s how Treasurer Scott Morrison sees the Australian dream.
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“I think it is great in this country that people want to aspire to do better and provide for their kids, so I don’t judge people for actually wanting to get ahead,” the treasurer told radio host Neil Mitchell a few weeks back. “That’s what this country is about.”

It’s certainly what negative gearing is about. “The vast bulk of Australians who use negative gearing are just trying to get ahead and trying to get their family in a better position,” Morrison says. But negative gearing only gets them ahead if prices climb. The more that people negatively gear in order to get ahead, the more prices climb. The further they climb, the harder houses become to buy. And the harder they become to buy, the more the Australian dream recedes.

This is what has happened. Back before the explosion of negative gearing around the turn of the century, 52 per cent of Australians aged in their mid-20s to mid-30s actually owned their home. At the most recent census in 2011 it was 47 per cent. Before the turn of the century, 70 per cent of Australians aged in their mid-30s to mid-40s owned their own home. It’s now 64 per cent.

The negative gearing-driven explosion has made it harder for Australians to buy houses to live in. Here’s how Luci Ellis, head of the Reserve Bank’s financial stability department, puts it: “It’s a truism that if an investor is buying a property an owner-occupier is not.”

It gets better, for investors: “To the extent that person is not then buying their own home, they are therefore creating a market for rental and making it attractive to purchase investor properties.”

Betting on prices going up becomes a self-perpetuating machine. The further they climb out of reach of owner-occupiers, the more the Australian dream recedes and the more renters there are to rent to, which allows investors to bet still more on prices rising.

The man who chaired the inquiry that Ellis spoke to was John Alexander, the Liberal member for Bennelong. He says the changes are turning Australia from a “commonwealth”, with huge home ownership, into more of a “kingdom” in which landlords rent to involuntary tenants who pay through the tax system for their acquisitions.

“Some have said we are on track to becoming a kingdom where the Lords own all the land and the biggest Lord will be King and the enslaved serf tenant is paying rent to the Lord to become wealthier,” he told the Financial Review. “Is that an over-dramatisation or is it very, very close to the truth?”

A landlord-heavy housing market is inherently unstable. Whereas owner-occupiers aren’t that likely to sell if interest rates rise or prices threaten to stop climbing, landlords can run for the doors. The Property Council makes the point dramatically in an advertisement depicting housing as a house of cards.

One way to wind things back would be to gently limit negative gearing. It’s an idea endorsed by the Murray Financial System Review and now the Business Council of Australia. It’s Labor policy, and despite Morrison’s talk about the need to support mum and dad investors (over mum and dad buyers), it might yet be adopted by the Coalition in some form.

Alexander’s committee was considering limiting the amount of mortgage interest that could be deducted from wages. At the moment it’s 100 per cent. That proportion could be adjusted by an authority such as the Reserve Bank to keep the market stable. And the committee was considering extending to owner-occupiers the concessions afforded to investors.

Right now investors get to deduct interest payments from their income for the purpose of determining tax. Under the proposal owner-occupiers could opt to have a portion of their interest payments treated the same way. If for example they chose to deduct 20 per cent of their interest payments from income they would be taxed on 20 per cent of the eventual gain when they sold.

Every time a negative gearer sold to an owner-occupier the government’s tax position would improve, the housing market would become more stable, and more Australians would be protected from poverty in their old age.

The changes in politics at the end of last year saw Alexander removed as chairman of the committee and another chair appointed who has also since moved. The report was due at the end of last year, but it  will now be finalised later this month as soon as another chair is appointed.

Public opinion backs Alexander, just. This week’s Essential poll shows 34 per cent of Australians would prefer lower housing prices and 32 per cent would prefer higher prices. Landlords strongly favour higher prices.

For a while, before politics overtook things, it looked as if we would have a sane discussion about what our headlong rush into negative gearing was doing to us. I’m hoping it’s not too late.

Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

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‘Zika is not a new Ebola’: Brazilian Ambassador combats ‘misinformation’

Zika virus: Full coverageZika virus alert: Sexual transmission common
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On Monday, February 1, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the Zika virus, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, an international public health emergency.

The announcement followed the declaration by Brazil of a national public health emergency. An outbreak of the Zika virus was detected last year in Brazil.

The virus has since been found in several countries in Latin America and, more recently, the United States. The main concern is over the virus’ link to microcephaly, a congenital condition where a child is born with a smaller than normal head size and impaired brain development.

The WHO declaration will allow for better coordination of actions and mobilisation of the necessary funding in a global effort aimed at preventing the spread of the virus, as well as speeding up the research to develop a vaccine and new therapeutic drugs.

Despite the real public health risk, it is important to avoid misinformation. At this point, there is no reason to cancel business or pleasure trips, but extra precautions must be taken by pregnant women, who should talk to a doctor before travelling to the most affected areas.

As the Brazilian ambassador in Washington, Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, has pointed out in a recent article, the Zika is not a new Ebola, its symptoms being similar to a mild flu in adults.

The Zika virus is of course a matter of concern, given association with microcephaly in newborn babies. More data and standardised protocols are needed before the link – first discovered by Brazilian doctors – between the virus and such cases of abnormally small heads and brain damage can be fully clarified.

Microcephaly in newborn babies can also be caused by a number of other diseases. Health experts are dealing with something new: the link between Zika and microcephaly is unprecedented in the scientific literature and requires in-depth studies and analyses – which are already under way – both to find out what is really happening and to determine the risk level for pregnant women.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health is investigating 5909 suspected cases of microcephaly in the country. According to the latest information released on February 27, 641 diagnoses of microcephaly were confirmed, of which 82 were linked to the Zika virus. Another 1046 suspected cases of microcephaly had their diagnosis discarded. This in no way diminishes the seriousness of the risk, nor does it weaken the resolve of the Brazilian government to take action.

From a Brazilian perspective, this fight is global, regional, and national. Globally, the WHO will be the main coordinator of efforts in this fight to control the virus worldwide. On the regional level, Brazil is also in permanent contact with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and regional partners.

At the domestic level, the Brazilian government is seriously addressing this issue as a matter of utmost importance, not only in view of the Olympics but also because of its potential long-term impact on the Brazilian people. The federal government has launched a three-front National Plan to Combat the Aedes and Microcephaly: prevention and combat against the Aedes aegypti; healthcare and assistance to pregnant women and children; and research. All efforts are co-ordinated by the federal government in partnership with state and local governments.

In order to fight the vector of the infection, the mosquito, the Brazilian government has deployed 220,000 troops and 300,000 health agents, who are visiting communities to educate the population and help eliminate all mosquito breeding grounds.

Insecticides and larvicides, as well as repellents, are also being employed as traditional weapons that proved efficient in the past. The mobilisation also involves the civil society, schools, NGOs and other public and private institutions in a broad-based alliance to raise public awareness about the infection and prevent the spread of the disease.

Apart from these more traditional strategies and the efforts to strengthen its healthcare network, Brazil is investing in technology and research to develop a vaccine and new therapies. A genetically modified mosquito, now under trial, could offer a new and promising weapon. Our national public health institutions are reaching out to their partners abroad to strengthen the research network and develop more efficient diagnostic kits, antiviral drugs and a Zika vaccine.

In Brazil, the Butantan, Chagas, Pasteur, and FioCruz Institutes operate as leading world-class institutions with vast experience in tropical diseases and a successful record in technological development. All the available expertise and manpower of these and other organisations is now directed towards this fight, in co-operation with international partners. The private sector, especially drug companies, is also investing in research into new and innovative ways to defeat the virus. This is an emergency, but Brazil and the world have the know-how and are able to muster the human and material resources to meet the challenge.

The Brazilian government promptly notified PAHO and WHO about the Zika outbreak and is taking the measures that have proved effective in similar situations in the past. I am certain that this strategy will pay off.

While any reaction based on misinformation may disrupt our daily lives without helping to solve the problem, effective measures require scientifically consistent data, transparency, rational planning, and decisive action. The international community must unite in this global effort and draw the right lessons to improve the international framework for preventing and fighting epidemics and tropical diseases. Brazil will continue to do its part with resolve and determination.

As Brazil prepares for the Olympics in August, authorities are working hard to rid the Rio de Janeiro region and the whole country of Aedis aegypti mosquitoes. Moreover, the Olympics will take place during winter in the southern hemisphere, a period of cooler temperatures, which usually contribute to a sharp decrease in mosquito-borne illnesses. We are perfectly aware of the responsibility of being the first South American country to host the Olympics. It was to me a source of great satisfaction to hear from Kitty Chiller, Australia’s chef de mission for the Rio Olympics, that she had a good impression from the preparation for the Games and that she is confident the event will be successful

Manuel Innocencio de Lacerda Santos Jr is the Brazilian ambassador to Australia.

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