International markets roundup

NEW YORK: The New York Stock Exchange was closed on Tuesday because of the Independence Day public holiday.

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LONDON: A spate of dealmaking news swept European stocks on Tuesday, with share in Worldpay soaring after approaches to buy the company helped mitigate a broad based pull back from the previous session’s strong gains.

The pan-European STOXX 600 fell 0.3 per cent, in line with a dip in euro zone stocks and Britain’s FTSE index.

The FTSE 100 ended the day 0.27 per cent lower at 7,357.23 points,

On Monday, European shares had their strongest day since April 24, when Emmanuel Macron won the first round of France’s presidential election.

The closure of the US market for the July 4 national holiday also meant volumes were lower than usual.

“Today is a consolidation day after gains yesterday, as we don’t have a US market,” said Angelo Meda, head of equities at Banor Capital.

But dealmaking was back with a vengeance as a key driver of individual share moves.

Payments company Worldpay shares soared 27.7 per cent to a record high after it received rival takeover approaches from credit card tech firm Vantiv and JPMorgan.

This came after Danish rival Nets said on Monday it had received offers. Nets and another German rival Wirecard rose more than four per cent.

“This is one of the most intriguing sub-sectors in the financials space. There are a lot of companies still, and we are probably going to have only one or two big leaders in the payments space,” said Meda.

A further boost to the sector came from news that the European Commission gave its blessing to a state bailout of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, paving the way for a deep restructure of the troubled lender.

TOKYO: Asian shares turned lower on Tuesday as earlier gains were quashed by tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea fired a missile that landed in Japanese waters, deepening concerns over the isolated nation’s nuclear capabilities.

European shares were also set to open in the red, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX to start off 0.2 per cent each, and France’s CAC 40 down 0.3 per cent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6 per cent after rising earlier.

Japan’s Nikkei also surrendered earlier gains to drop 0.1 per cent, and South Korea’s KOSPI extended losses to trade 0.6 per cent lower.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 13.11 per cent to 3,182.80 points.

North Korea test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday, South Korean and US officials said, days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations are due to discuss steps to rein in Pyongyang’s weapons programs.

The missile flew 930 kilometres before landing in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the South Korean military and Japanese government said.

Tokyo strongly protested what it called a clear violation of UN resolutions, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will ask the presidents of China and Russia to play more constructive roles in efforts to stop Pyongyang’s arms program.

The South Korean won dropped 0.4 per cent to 1,151 won to the dollar as of 0532 GMT.

The nervous mood pushed the safe-haven yen up 0.4 per cent to 113.02 yen per dollar.

“As concerns surrounding the firing of ballistic missiles brewed midday, we are seeing the slide in the Japanese market spreading across to the rest of Asia,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at IG in Singapore.

WELLINGTON: New Zealand shares were higher on Tuesday, led by Spark New Zealand and Westpac Banking Corp.

The S&P/NZX 50 Index gained 0.4 per cent, or 32.21 points, to 7,620.64.

Asian stars of Hawaii Five-0 quit the show after being offered less money than white co-stars

Their characters, Chin Ho Kelly and Kono Kalakaua, will not appear in the upcoming eighth season.

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The characters’ absence will be referenced in the season premiere.

Sources tell Variety that Park and Kim had been seeking pay equality with stars Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Caan, but were unable to reach satisfactory deals with CBS Television Studios, which produces the series.

CBS’s final offer to Kim and Park was believed to have been 10-15% lower than what O’Loughlin and Caan make in salary.

O’Laughlin and Caan each have deals that also provide them percentage points on the show’s back end.

“I will never forget meeting Daniel while still writing the pilot and being certain there was no other actor who I’d want to play Chin Ho Kelly,” said executive producer Peter Lenkov.

“Needless to say, Daniel has been an instrumental part of the success of ‘Hawaii Five-0’ over the past 7 seasons and it has personally been a privilege to know him.

Grace’s presence gave ‘Hawaii Five-0’ a beauty and serenity to each episode.

She was the consummate collaborator, helping build her character from day 1.

“They will always be ohana to us, we will miss them and we wish them both all the best.”

A CBS spokesperson said in a statement: “We are so appreciative of Daniel and Grace’s enormous talents, professional excellence and the aloha spirit they brought to each and every one of our 168 episodes.

They’ve helped us build an exciting new Hawaii Five-0, and we wish them all the best and much success in their next chapters. Mahalo and a hui hou…”

Kim and Park have both been cast members on “Hawaii Five-O” alongside O’Loughlin and Caan since CBS premiered a rebooted version of the classic television cop show in 2010.

The “Hawaii Five-0” changes represent the latest in a series of cast overhauls at returning broadcast dramas.

NBC’s “Taken” and ABC’s “Quantico” and “Once Upon a Time” have also parted ways with veteran cast members in the lead up to the coming season.

Rudd says Abbott and Turnbull are ‘tweedledee and tweedledum’ on policy

The government’s policies on climate change, healthcare and the NBN are likely to stay the same even if a leadership spill one day replaces Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott, according to former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

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Speaking on ABC Radio this morning, the former Labor leader was asked whether friction between Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott was proof the Liberals had failed to learn from the leadership tussle that plagued Mr Rudd’s own prime ministership.

He said the differences between the two men were superficial on the “big policy changes facing Australia”.

Among those policies were “the future of the national broadband network, the future of climate change action, the future of a sustainable economic growth strategy, NDIS and the future of health reform,” Mr Rudd said.

“Frankly if I look at Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull it just seems to be tweedledum or tweedledee.”

It comes following a week in which Mr Abbott made frequent media appearances, suggesting changes to government policy.

Mr Abbott has also blasted his Liberal colleague Christopher Pyne for a recently leaked recording in which the Turnbull Government minister promised swift action on same-sex marriage and said his moderate faction had gained control of the party.

Mr Abbott has denied claims he is seeking to topple Malcolm Turnbull to regain the prime ministership. 

“I am very happy being a backbench member of the government because it gives me the freedom to speak as I think best, and it gives me more time to be a very conscientious local member,” he said in an interview published in The Manly Daily  on Wednesday.

Vocus shares up as KKR moves closer

US private equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has moved a step closer to a takeover of Vocus Group with the telco’s board opening its books to a non-exclusive due diligence.

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KKR had announced a conditional $3.50 a share takeover proposal for Vocus on June 7, valuing the telecom operator at $A3.3 billion, a far cry from the almost nine dollars a share Vocus was commanding in August last year.

At 1020 AEST, Vocus shares were ahead by three per cent, at $3.41.

On Wednesday, Vocus said its board had carefully reviewed KKR’s proposal and decided to allow due diligence in order to establish whether an acceptable transaction could be agreed.

“While we are confident that the management team can deliver on the strategic plan, we believe it is in the best interests of shareholders to grant KKR due diligence to explore whether a potential whole of company proposal is available that takes into account the benefits that the plan delivers,” Vocus chairman David Spence said.

Vocus said it will update shareholders in due course.

KKR’s offer is subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, including a nod from the Foreign Investment Review Board; due diligence and a unanimous Board recommendation.

Vocus, which has expanded to become Australia’s fourth-biggest telecommunications company through a series of mergers and acquisitions, cut its full year profit guidance in May, for the second time in six months.

The company, however, reaffirmed the revised guidance in early June, with full-year underlying profit expected to come in between $160 million and $165 million.

Medicare breach: Government criticises fearmongers, says exposure is limited

It’s believed someone breached the security surrounding Medicare details, potentially exposing Australians to fraud.

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Federal police are now investigating the “traditional criminal activity”, which was revealed on Tuesday.

A report on ‘The Guardian Online’ website detailed how one of its own reporters was able to buy his Medicare card number from a darknet trader for less than $30.

Human Services Minister Alan Tudge declined to elaborate on the “most likely problem”, but cited previous cases of doctors’ surgeries being broken into.

“I have my strong suspicions but we’re leaving it obviously up to the police to do a proper investigation,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

He again admitted the government wasn’t aware Medicare details were being sold on the dark web until the report.

But he insisted personal health records aren’t at risk and those saying otherwise were indulging in fear-mongering and being irresponsible.

“Someone hasn’t hacked into a database,” Mr Tudge said.

“There is no indication this is widespread.”

At least 75 files are believed to have been sold since October last year.

However, Mr Tudge couldn’t confirm this, saying only that the government believed the number of those affected was a “small number in the dozens”.

“The people that we know had a Medicare card number breach, we have contacted,” he said.

Doctors are seeking government assurances that patient records are secure.

“This is a deeply concerning,” Australian Medical Association president Michael Gannon said.

The AMA fears the Medicare issue might dissuade Australians from taking part in the government’s ‘My Health Record’ online patient health information program.

“It is so important for the success of the My Health Record that doctors and patients both have absolute confidence in the integrity of the system,” Dr Gannon said.

Mr Tudge later told Sky News he had given the AMA president a confidential briefing.