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Published on: Friday, December 16, 2016

  • The Federal Reserve’s rate hike – and its forecast for three rate rises over 2017 – rattled the local market. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.8% yesterday on the back of US interest rates being hiked by one-quarter of a percentage point to the 0.5%-0.75% band. The Fed appears more hawkish for future rate rises, upgrading its estimates over 2017 to three hikes from two, as revealed from its member projections – or ‘dot plots’. 
  • Crown Resorts has further reduced its stake in its Macau joint venture operations. The company has agreed to sell most of its shares in Macau casino operator Melco Crown Entertainment, and said it will focus on its strong Australian casinos business. Crown has agreed to sell a portion in Melco Crown Entertainment to joint-venture partner Lawrence Ho for $1.6 billion and will explore shopping its remaining 14% stake in the Macau venture on the market. James Packer will resign as deputy chair and non-executive director of Melco Crown (Australian Financial Review).
  • Former NSW minister Eddie Obeid has spent his first night in jail after being found guilty of corruption. Yesterday, Obeid was sentenced for at least three years (non-parole period) for wilful misconduct in public office. He was found guilty in July of lobbying a senior public servant to secure favourable outcomes on series of Circular Quay leases – without revealing his family’s interests. His sentence was for communicating with the public servant to advance his and his family’s financial interests. 
  • In US economic data, consumer prices rose by 0.2% during November, to be up 1.7% over the year. Core consumer prices (excluding food and energy) lifted by 0.2% in November to be up 2.1% over the year. Rents and gasoline prices accounted for most of the increase in the CPI. The NAHB Housing market index rose seven points to 70 in December - the highest reading on sentiment since July 2005 (CommSec).
  • At 0645 AEDT on Friday, the local SPI 200 share price futures index was up two points, or 0.04 per cent, at 5,487 points.

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