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Australia to compel technology firms to provide access to encrypted missives

July 14, 2017 By Colin Packham SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia on Friday proposed new laws to compel companies such as U.S. social media giant Facebook and device manufacturer Apple to provide security agencies access to encrypted messages. The measures will be the first in an expected wave of global legislation as pressure mounts on technology companies to provide such access after several terror suspects used encrypted applications ahead of attacks. Australia, a staunch U.S. ally, is on heightened alert for attacks by home-grown radicals since 2014 and authorities have said…

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Australia seen limping to the finish line for global growth record

June 5, 2017 By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia likely equaled the world record for the longest stretch of uninterrupted economic growth last quarter, yet celebrations will be muted as miserly wage growth saps the spending power of its citizens. Analysts estimate Australia’s A$1.7 trillion ($1.27 trillion) annual gross domestic product (GDP) grew a slim 0.2 percent in the first quarter, a setback from the previous quarter’s brisk 1.1 percent. The GDP report, due out on Wednesday, is also forecast to show annual growth slowed to 1.6 percent from…

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Australia to hold new inquiry into ‘Big Four’ banks

May 8, 2017 By Swati Pandey CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australia will hold an inquiry into competition in the country’s financial system, following a series of scandals in the banking sector and public allegations against the “Big Four” banks of abuse of market power. The latest inquiry is part of a number of government measures since last year aimed at alleviating public concerns about the power of the big banks, after revelations of misconduct in the industry. Australia’s four major lenders – Commonwealth Bank of Australia , Westpac Banking Corp ,…

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Australia’s retail slugout adds to worry over weak inflation

May 8, 2017 By Swati Pandey SYDNEY (Reuters) – A fierce price war among retailers is threatening to keep a lid on improving inflation in Australia, compounding the problems of policymakers struggling to support still-weak domestic demand. An uptick in consumer inflation has lowered the chance of another rate cut this year, but competition from global retailers such as Amazon.com Inc is set to keep prices under pressure – good news for shoppers but worrying for the central bank. The country’s biggest retailers are suffering from a long spell of…

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Sanders defends Trump’s praise of Australian healthcare system

May 7, 2017 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders said on Saturday that President Donald Trump was right to call Australia’s universal healthcare system better than the U.S. system. Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination last year, also said the Senate should use the Australian system as a model while crafting an alternative to Republican healthcare legislation that Trump endorses. “President Trump is right. The Australian healthcare system provides healthcare to all of its people at a fraction of the cost than we…

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Trump does not think U.S. should copy Australia’s health system: White House

May 5, 2017 WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump was simply saying nice things to an ally when he called Australia’s universal healthcare system better than the U.S. system, and he does not think his country should adopt a similar approach, the White House said on Friday. “The president was complimenting a foreign leader on the operations of their healthcare system,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a news briefing. “It didn’t mean anything more than that.” Trump raised eyebrows when he told Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull…

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Australia central bank to hold rates at May meeting: Reuters poll

April 28, 2017 SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s central bank is strongly expected to hold its cash rate at a record low of 1.5 percent at its monthly policy meeting next week, a Reuters poll of economists found. All 65 economists polled by Reuters forecast the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) would stand pat on May 2, following two rate cuts last year. While the majority predicted a steady rate outlook on a one-year horizon, 23 respondents out of 56 forecast an interest rate hike by mid-next year, versus four seeing…

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Asia stocks, euro steady as markets pause for breath after French election

April 25, 2017 By Nichola Saminather SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian equities were steady on Tuesday and the euro retained gains as markets’ euphoria over a centrist victory in the first round of the French presidential election subsided, though near-term investor sentiment remains positive. The risk rally has kept safe-haven assets, including the yen and gold came, under pressure, while the Canadian dollar fell after the U.S. announced new duties averaging 20 percent on Canadian softwood lumber imports. The Canadian currency tumbled to a four-month low as the U.S. dollar strengthened…

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U.S. Vice President Pence tries hand at koala diplomacy Down Under

April 23, 2017 By Roberta Rampton SYDNEY (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence crouched down in the shade of a eucalyptus tree on Sunday at Sydney’s Tarango Zoo where Penny, a red kangaroo, dozed in the midday heat, scratching her behind the ears before she lazily rolled onto her back. “That’s my usual position on a Sunday afternoon,” Pence said as a bank of cameras clicked, capturing yet another picture-perfect moment for his family in Australia. Pence, his wife Karen, and their two adult daughters, Charlotte and Audrey, saw…

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Australian court dismisses Chevron appeal in landmark tax case

April 21, 2017 MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Chevron Corp lost an appeal on Friday against the Australian tax office in a landmark case in which the U.S. energy giant contested a tax bill of A$340 million ($260 million), including penalties and interest. The full bench of the Federal Court dismissed the appeal against an earlier ruling that Chevron underpaid taxes by setting up a A$2.5 billion intercompany credit facility with an abnormally high interest rate which effectively lowered its taxable income within Australia. Chevron said it was disappointed by the judgment…

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