Asia stocks follow US peers lower; bonds steady

Asian stocks posted modest losses Friday following a weak US session as investors mulled an uncertain economic backdrop and mixed signals on trade negotiations. New Zealand’s dollar slumped. Shares in Japan, Hong Kong and Korea retreated after weaker than expected data from Europe and the US reignited worries about the world economy. US durable goods orders were below expectations and home sales missed estimates. The dollar held an overnight gain amid reports signalling uneven progress in US-China trade talks as next week’s deadline for more tariffs nears. The kiwi fell…

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Ford fesses up on emissions early in an effort to limit the damage

Ford Motor Co. revealed its emission testing could be flawed and took pains to soothe anxiety among investors in an industry wracked by years of pollution scandals. Ford said workers raised concerns about its testing in September, and it’s since hired an outside firm to help conduct an investigation that could stretch into the summer. Along with the unidentified firm and regulators, the company will look into how it’s used road-load specifications to simulate how aerodynamic drag and tire friction can affect fuel economy outside testing labs. By speaking up…

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Twelve empty supertankers reveal truths about today’s oil market

They are slowly ploughing their way across thousands of miles of ocean toward America’s Gulf of Mexico coastline. As they do, twelve empty supertankers are also revealing a few truths about today’s global oil market. In normal times, the vessels would be filled with heavy, high sulfur Middle East oil for delivery to refineries in places like Houston or New Orleans. Not now though. They are sailing cargo-less, a practice that vessel owners normally try to avoid because ships earn money by making deliveries. The 12 vessels are making voyages…

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Not the worst roll of the dice

The much-awaited maiden budget by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has come and gone, and actually, it was not all doom and gloom. Maybe Mboweni understood the mood of the country when he decided to introduce lower tax increases on alcohol and tobacco this year, and although there are now three layers in the fuel levy the increase was also lower than last year. Last year National Treasury expected revenue of R1.3 billion from sin taxes, this year it is R1 billion, and last year the increase in the fuel levy…

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How your effective income tax rate has changed

When British prime minister Margaret Thatcher came to power in the UK in the late 1970s, inflation had started rearing its ugly head. The minister of finance, Geoffrey Howe, used the opportunity to balance his budget by offering limited relief for fiscal drag. Effectively, the government collected taxes by stealth, something that has become quite common in the tax world – and in South Africa. When our finance minister Tito Mboweni took to the stage in Parliament for his first budget speech on Wednesday, it was widely expected that personal…

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Nightmare neighbour next door?

Disputes among those living in close proximity happen. Whether your neighbour is an office building, workshop, nightclub, block of flats or a home, sources of conflict can easily arise – noise, odours, obstructions, abuse of your property or neglect of theirs – and emotions can run high.  How you choose to handle the conflict can make all the difference to the outcome as well as your relationships with your neighbours. Your bottom line too. Litigation takes time and costs money. An alarming number of both legal and domestic conflicts are…

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SA’s blue-chip art

When buying investment art, the best strategy is to buy ‘blue chip’ art – art that has a history of successful sales at reputable auction houses. The other strategy – shopping around to find the next big thing on the global art scene is akin to looking for a needle in a haystack. This is according to Howard Bilton, chairman of the Sovereign Art Foundation and an art investor over the last 30 years. Bilton was in South Africa to take forward his plan to establish an African contemporary art…

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The budget and your finances

Having had some time to digest finance minister Tito Mboweni’s first budget speech, the market appears to be cautiously welcoming. There was nothing surprisingly bad about it, and enough of the right noises were made for people to feel that the minister is trying to move policy in the right direction. Mboweni also didn’t shy away from articulating the country’s obvious fiscal problems. He was honest about the situation the country faces with regards to state-owned enterprises in particular, and asked for good sense to prevail in dealing with them.…

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Bank takes a big bite out of Discovery’s profits

Discovery’s interim operating profit took a knock as the company invested in several new initiatives, including the long-awaited Discovery Bank scheduled for public rollout next month. The financial services giant saw normalised profit from operations decrease by 4% to R3.79 billion, while headline earnings fell 18% to R2.25 billion and normalised headline earnings dropped 16% to R2.37 billion. By the end of December 2018, R6 billion had been invested in the bank. This comprised R3.28 billion paid to FirstRand Group, R1.31 billion regulatory capital invested in the bank, and R1.42 billion…

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Woolworths foods still the star, ahead of the market

NOMPU SIZIBA: Woolworths released their interim results for the 26 weeks ended December 23, 2018. The company reported headline earnings per share down 2.9% to 200.4 cents. In the South African economy they indicate that one day less of trading in December relative to December 2017 impacted sales growth negatively. The company’s David Jones division in Australia has been a drag for Woolworths, and both markets, Australia and South Africa, are experiencing lacklustre economic growth. Well, to take us behind the numbers and give us an idea of the bigger picture…

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