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Australian shares fall despite Telstra rally

A rally in Telstra shares and better-than-expected jobs data helped the local sharemarket more than halve early losses, but that wasn’t enough to offset another hefty drop in the energy sector after oil prices plunged again.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 fell 28 points, or 0.5 per cent, to 5231. The broader All Ordinaries lost 29.7 points, or 0.6 per cent, to 5207.4.

Energy was the worst performing sector on the market, tumbling 2.7 per cent, while telcos rose 1.2 per cent, led by a strong rise in Telstra.

Equities Trustees head of asset management Paul Kasian said with resources struggling, thanks to falling oil and iron ore prices, and banks fully valued, it was getting tough for investors.

“You’ve really got to say, ‘where do I put my money? Do I go for higher yield, lower for longer?’,” Mr Kasian said.

“And, you’ve got to buy US dollar exposure because this low oil price will stimulate the US economy, because they don’t have all these taxes, that low oil price will flow through to petrol prices.”

Among the banks, Commonwealth Bank slipped 0.2 per cent to $82.19, ANZ fell 0.9 per cent to $31.21, Westpac dropped 0.9 per cent to $32.24 and National Australia Bank finished 0.7 per cent lower at $32.09.

The price of oil slumped heavily overnight in the United States on Wednesday, with Brent crude dropping 3.9 per cent. The price recovered slightly in the local Australian session to be trading around $US64.80 in late trade on Thursday.

Energy stocks on the Australian market struggled once again.

Santos shares plunged 8.3 per cent to $7, as the oil producer announced it was slashing its capital expenditure budget for 2015 by 25 per cent and that asset sales were still being considered. Santos’ market value has roughly halved since early September.

Origin Energy increased a loan facility to $7.4 billion to help the company provide a bigger buffer against the falling oil price. Origin shares dipped 2.1 per cent to $10.56.

The dramatic downward move in oil prices hasn’t been a bad for all those in the industry, with Caltex Australia flagging that its profits may increase by as much as 42 per cent thanks to cheaper crude. Caltex shares jumped 2.9 per cent to $31.26.

Elsewhere in resources, BC Iron is preparing to cut staff at its Nullagine mine in Western Australia. However, the small iron ore producer lowered its cash cost guidance from the remainder of the financial year to between $US54 and $US61 per tonne. BC Iron shares rose 1.3 per cent to 40¢

Overnight on Wednesday, the price of iron ore inched 0.1 per cent higher to $US69.14 per tonne.

Amongst the miners, Rio Tinto lost 2.4 per cent to $55.04, BHP dropped 1.3 per cent to $29 and Fortescue Metals fell 3.5 per cent to $2.47.

BBY private client advisor Henry Jennings said weak consumer sentiment numbers and unemployment rising to 6.3 per cent on Thursday, despite 40,000 jobs created during November, will continue to place pressure on retailers coming into Christmas.

“I imagine a lot of retailers are going to be bringing forward their January sales and hoping that will get them out of the mess they’re in,” Mr Jennings said.

“I think Christmas has been cancelled as far as the Santa Claus rally goes.”.

Department store Myer finished 2.1 per cent lower at $1.425 and electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi dipped 1.4 per cent to $15.23.

Sydney co-captain Tom Garlepp says Kings aren’t a one-man team despite Josh Childress’ hot form

Kings co-captain Tom Garlepp dismissed claims Sydney have become too reliant on star import Josh Childress, who has been a stunning success in his first season in the NBL.

Childress, who has averaged 22 points per game while also filling up the box score with blocks, rebounds, steals and assists, has been a proven match-winner.

Garlepp said last week’s victory over the Breakers, in which Childress saw less court time than usual due to an illness, put this theory to bed.

“We do have depth, and we’re not too concerned about being labelled a one-man team. We have confidence in each other.”

Buoyant after their 13-point toppling of the Breakers at the Kingdome, the Kings have found momentum after a stumbling start to the season and are confident of pulling off a three-game winning streak when they hit the road for a clash against the Wollongong Hawks this weekend.

“I think we’ve got a bit more of a bind to our game plan than we have had at previous times in the year,” Garlepp said, but conceded that a lack of consistency continued to be the Kings’ Achilles heel. At six wins and five losses, and just a few games shy of the mid-season point, the Kings are hovering just outside a top-four berth.

“I wouldn’t say we’re a consistent side,” Garlepp said, “but we have a game plan and specific things we know we need to work on.”

The Kings are keen to use Saturday’s game to “improve defensively and keep moving the ball”.

While the Kings have a 2-0 record against the Hawks this season, including a 29-point demolition the last time they met in the Gong, Garlepp said the team was taking nothing for granted.

“More than anything we’ve just got to come ready to play,” he said. “We’re not too worried about getting points. We really have to take care of business because they are a pretty dangerous side at the moment.”

No specialised strategy has been devised for Saturday’s game, but solid performances from point guards Kendrick Perry and Jason Cadee would be critical, Garlepp said.  “If they can continue to do what they’ve been doing, then we will be fine. They’ve been great for us lately.”

After the Hawks, the Kings will return home to host the top-of-the-table Perth Wildcats, against whom they are yet to pull a win this year. While Garlepp said the Kings were focused on taking it one game at a time, recent wins against the Breakers and the Tapians at the Kingdome proved their potential to take down the powerhouses.  “Our focus when we do play them is to figure out where we let ourselves down last time, and rectify that,” he said. “But I don’t think we can afford to look past Wollongong.”

Lauren Jackson’s rebuild continues, Canberra Capitals call for patience

The Canberra Capitals are prepared to wait for a fit and healthy Lauren Jackson. Photo: Jeffrey ChanCanberra Capitals coach Carrie Graf insists stakeholders are willing to be patient with Lauren Jackson’s frustrating battle with injury, with club management to meet this week to map out a new plan of attack.

Jackson was training well and set to make her long-awaited return to court against Townsville on Sunday, but it was scrapped when she suffered swelling on her troublesome knee.

The 33-year-old has not played a single game for the Capitals since signing a three-season $1 million third party deal, which was due to begin in 2012-13.

Fears for her immediate playing future were allayed somewhat when she pulled up fine after a light shoot-around on Wednesday and she was due to train before team practice on Thursday.

“She looked good, there was no major swelling [afterward], those are positive signs,” Graf said.

“Our management is yet to meet with the sport medicine team. After that we’ll have a better sense of the way forward, and what the actual plan is in terms of her potential return to play.

“I can be disappointed as a coach we haven’t got our superstar on the court, stakeholders and sponsors can be disappointed.

“We’re all wise and sensible enough to know Lauren doesn’t want to be injured. Players on big contracts sometimes get injured.

“Ultimately, I think everyone’s supportive. It’s not an athlete that’s intentionally going out to get hurt and doesn’t want to play, it’s the exact opposite of that.

“When we’ve put her back in five on five at practice, she’s dominated. She’s still a world class player.”

The Capitals will celebrate Carly Wilson’s 300th game, which she brought up three weeks ago in Perth, before their crunch match with WNBL ladder leaders Townsville at AIS Arena on Sunday.

Canberra is 4-6 and must win at least two of their last three games before Christmas to realistically be in finals contention.

“It’s belated but we asked her where she wanted to do it, celebrating 300 games on the road isn’t the same,” Graf said.

“Pressure is something we put on ourselves, but if you were betting people certainly wouldn’t put any money on us [against Townsville].

“With our current line-up and our current form, no one will expect us to do anything.

“Their size might cause us a few problems, but it’s a chance for a few players to make a stand against their bigger players.”


WNBL: Canberra Capitals v Townsville Fire at AIS Arena, 3pm

Tickets available from Ticketek

James Hird supporters secure Essendon board positions through social media campaign

An unsuccessful candidate for one of the two available spots on Essendon’s board has claimed the new appointments to those positions are an indication that the club’s members consider support for coach James Hird to be more important than adding experience to the board.

It emerged on Thursday that an aggressive social media campaign to engage with members had helped the two candidates considered the strongest supporters of Hird remaining as coach – Paul Cousins and Catherine Lio – to win the positions on the board vacated by the retiring Kevin Egan and also Jo-Anne Albert, who was unseated.

Cousins, a 37-year-old web designer with his own business, and Lio, a 31-year-old digital media manager with Telstra, received 1582 and 1398 votes respectively to edge out former Melbourne Storm boss Ron Gauci, who finished just 18 votes behind Lio.

Although he accepted the decision, Gauci told Fairfax Media he believed there was an underlying message to the vote that also left another high-profile candidate, financial expert Jason Cunningham, without a position on 1013 votes, behind the up-for-re-election Albert, on 1032.

“Clearly the support was for those two candidates who supported the coach,” said Gauci, who had maintained an ambivalent stance on Hird’s position as senior coach during the election process. 

“That seems to have been more important to the members of the club than experience going onto the board,” he said. “There were experienced candidates there that were not successful.”

Another candidate who had called on Hird to resign as coach, Bill Jennings, received just 417 of the total 3684 votes cast, finishing 6th out of the nine candidates.

Cousins and Lio had outlined their stance for improved communication between the club and its fans by answering members’ questions on the club’s unofficial fan forum “BomberBlitz”, as well as Facebook groups and Twitter.

Chairman Paul Little said he welcomed the “fresh set of skills and experience to the board” that the election of Cousins and Lio would bring, and looked forward to formally welcoming the directors-elect at the club’s annual meeting on December 15, the same day that the case of the 34 past and present Essendon players accused of taking a banned substance is scheduled to start.

Speaking to Essendon’s website, Cousins said he wholeheartedly supported the current administration’s handling of the supplements scandal and also the decision to keep Hird on as coach, despite his 12-month suspension from the AFL for his part in the saga.

“There have been, obviously, some difficulties, but I think on the whole the board, and particularly Paul [Little] publicly, I think he has handled it well,” Cousins said. “James, I think, has been put under a lot of pressure by the media, but I think he’s handled it terrifically well,” he said.

“My background is in … new media so I would think there are obvious tie-ins with the football club moving that way, so hopefully I can bring some of that skill set to the board. But hopefully just a fresh set of eyes, too.”

In her interview with the website, Lio said the current administration had done a “fabulous” job and that she wanted to bring a “youthful outlook” to the direction of the club.

“I’m really looking to give that membership view to the club, which is that person in the stands,” she said.

Little still has the power to himself nominate one more director to take a position on the current nine-person board, a point Gauci raised when contacted on Thursday.

“If the board is interested in taking on additional experience, the chairman has the ability to bring on extra skills if he chooses,” he said.

MOVIE REVIEW: Horrible Bosses 2, Paddington

REPETITIVE: Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day and Jason Bateman star in Horrible Bosses 2.HORRIBLE BOSSES 2 (MA)

Stars: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx

Director: Sean Anders

Screening: General release

Rating: ★★

HORRIBLE Bosses 2 is a movie packed with deja vu. There’s a self-referential gag about this in the credit roll, involving a character performing a gross-out act with a toothbrush, as featured in Horrible Bosses and the line ‘‘She must have seen the first movie’’.

Somehow, this cheerful acknowledgment of repetition rings hollow: it only adds insult to injury. The movie has a few comic moments – there are enough gags, one-liners and set-ups for a trailer – but there’s a lot to endure in-between.

Horrible Bosses 2 features the further misadventures of Nick (Jason Bateman), Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) and Dale (Charlie Day), three sketchy gestures towards the comic potential of blundering and male bonding

They are variations on a theme; Dale is timid and stupid, Kurt is sleazy and stupid, and Nick is smarter than the other two, but stupid enough to go along with their plans.

Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Spacey and Jamie Foxx, figures in the first movie, are wheeled back in for one-note cameos. New in the game are Christoph Waltz playing a scumbag in a surprisingly low-key way (compared to Spacey, at any rate). Chris Pine also plays a scumbag, with an air of frantic over-emphasis.

This time, instead of suffering at the hands of horrible bosses, as they did the first time, Nick, Dale and Kurt become bosses themselves, running their own small business. Are they horrible too? Well, they’re not great, but that’s not where the movie is taking us. That would be too much of a change, or a challenge.

They set up their own company, producing a product of their own invention called a Shower Buddy.

The three are exploited by those with power over them. They resort to crime to try to solve their problem. They make a mess of it. There’s a new director, Sean Anders and new writers – this time Anders and John Morris wrote the screenplay, but three of the writers from the first movie have story or character credits. Horrible Bosses 2 is more of the same, yet less.

Paddington, in the London Underground, where southern bears long to go.

Stars: Nicole Kidman, Ben Whishaw, Jim Broadbent, Peter Capaldi, Hugh Bonneville

Writer-director: Paul King

Screening: General release

Rating: ★★★


LIKE countless children since the 1950s, I was brought up on Paddington Bear, with his hat and dufflecoat, his fondness for marmalade sandwiches, his scrupulous politeness offset by the occasional hard stare and his all-too-recognisable knack for getting into trouble despite the very best intentions.

Happily, these traits remain intact in this plush blend of live action and computer animation, which reintroduces Paddington (voiced by Ben Whishaw) as a refugee from darkest Peru who’s discovered on a London railway platform by a human family, the Browns, who agree to take him until he finds somewhere to live.

Before long he’s turned the household upside down in every sense – and however much the grumpy Mr Brown (Hugh Bonneville) may protest, it’s clear that he’s here to stay.

The film is a brightly wrapped Christmas present that has been assembled with love and care and its message about the importance of welcoming strangers couldn’t be more timely.

If there’s a complaint, it’s that the writer-director, Paul King, is a little too knowing (and a little too openly indebted to Wes Anderson).

When King isn’t using obvious miniatures to turn the Browns’ home into a literal dollhouse, he’s trying for a similar kind of estrangement through an excess of realism – pondering how a Peruvian bear might acquire a taste for marmalade or, indeed, the ability to speak English.

This kind of blatantly artificial whimsy is absent from the original Paddington stories, which for all their seeming fantasy are grounded in memories of how it feels to be a child facing the simple challenges of life: going shopping, say, or having a bath.

King’s worst misstep is the casting of a maniacally beaming Jim Broadbent as the friendly antique dealer Mr Gruber, who ought to maintain a kindly but formal manner like Paddington’s own. On the other hand, Peter Capaldi is in top comic form as the Browns’ racist neighbour Mr Curry, a red-eyed malcontent in a sweater vest who worries that Paddington will keep him up all night with ‘‘jungle music’’.

A lovelorn romantic at heart, Mr Curry swiftly becomes the crawling slave of a glamorously evil museum curator played by a blonde-bobbed Nicole Kidman, who slinks around plotting to have Paddington stuffed. These two are the best children’s film villains since Martin Scorsese’s Hugo – though the sheer glee Kidman brings to her wickedness may prove too much for sensitive kids.