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Asia-Pacific News Australia & New Zealand

  • Australia's jobless rate fell to three-decade lows in March while employers took on more full-time workers in a sign of underlying strength in the economy which may yet require a restraining rise in interest rates.

  • A bidding war is looming for Australia's Coles Group after the company said a Kohlberg Kravis Roberts-led consortium was confident of topping a $16.1 billion bid for theretailer, hoisting its shares to a record.

  • Kohlberg Kravis Roberts will still consider a bid for Australia's Coles Group, despite a $16 billion offer for the retailer by conglomerate Wesfarmers, sources familiar with the situation said.

  • Australia's central bank skipped a chance to raise interest rates on Wednesday, confounding speculation it would tighten to cool domestic demand as insurance against future inflationary pressures.

  • Australia's trade deficit was little changed at $687 million in February, defying expectations of a widening, as export growth matched imports in what might be a sign of a long-awaited export upturn.

  • Australian retail sales surged 0.9% in February, blowing past market market forecasts and heightening the risk of another rise in interest rates, perhaps as early as this week.

  • The global selloff throughout world stock markets triggered by the brief but sharp fall in the Shanghai Composite Index at the end of February has stirred up even more interest in already hot Chinese markets. This week, "A Fund Affair" features AMP Capital's China Growth Fund, which gives the investor rare access to China 'A' shares.

  • Australian energy infrastructure group Alinta, extended its share trading halt on Wednesday and said it was still in talks with potential bidders.

  • Qantas Airways shares slipped early Friday on reports UBS Global Asset Management was reportedly moving to increase its holding in the Australian carrier, increasing its power of blocking a $9 billion takeover offer.

  • Australia's employers created a solid 22,000 new jobs in February while more people were enticed into the labor force, boding well for consumer demand and economic growth this quarter.

  • Shares in Australia's Qantas Airways fell to a three-month low on Tuesday amid growing concern some key shareholders may block an $8.7 billion buyout bid for the airline.

  • Australia's central bank left interest rates unchanged at 6.25% on Wednesday, a decision widely expected given growing confidence among officials that past tightenings were working to restrain inflation.

  • A private-sector measure of Australian inflation rose 0.2% in February as housing rents recorded their biggest increase in the history of the series.

  • Australian manufacturing activity expanded sharply in February, driven by a strong turnaround in foodstuffs and faster growth in the coal and petroleum sectors, a private survey reported on Thursday.

  • Australia's top central banker said that interest rates were more likely to rise than fall in the months ahead, though he was more confident that past rate increases would contain inflation.

  • Potential takeover bids of Alcoa by one of two Australian-based companies reportedly considering such a move were unlikely because of the U.S. aluminum producer's company dynamics, cost factors and increasing Chinese competition, analysts said Wednesday.

  • Australian employment dipped unexpectedly in January, but the jobless rate hit a new 30-year low of 4.5%, keeping alive the risk that a lack of suitable labor will eventually generate wage and price pressures.

  • World number one miner BHP Billiton said Chief Executive Chip Goodyear will step down by the end of 2007, as it posted a 41% rise in first-half net profit and added $10 billion in share buybacks.

  • Macquarie Bank, Australia's top investment bank, said it expects a strong increase in full-year profit, but warned second-half earnings would be slightly below the first-half result.

  • Australia's trade deficit widened 52% in December as imports of capital goods climbed while the drought hit farm exports, implying trade cut a sizable chunk out of economic growth for the fourth quarter as a whole.