Monday, March 21, 2016

$10bn quarterly loss for Petrobras; Millions of UK seniors forced to delay retirement; Sydney home prices record biggest fall in 7 years

1 $10bn quarterly loss for Petrobras (BBC) Brazil's Petrobras, which is at the centre of a massive corruption scandal, has posted its biggest ever quarterly loss due to the plunge in oil prices. The state oil firm's net loss widened to $10.2bn in the three months to December.

The company had to write down billions of dollars from assets like oil fields and drilling rigs after crude prices fell by more than 40%. Its chief executive said in a press conference that 2015 was "an extremely difficult year for the oil industry".

Petrobras has also been trying to deal with the fallout from an expanding corruption scandal that has gone to the top ranks of government and seen some of its former executives jailed. Brazil is also mired in its worst recession in a century, which has led to weak demand at home for its fuel products.
To maintain its finances, the firm has drastically reduced its spending and investment plans. Petrobras is also looking to sell some of its assets in order to raise more than $14bn.

2 Millions of seniors forced to delay retirement (Patrick Collinson in The Guardian) Millions of workers in the UK in their 50s have been forced to postpone their retirement by eight years due to a lack of pension savings and high levels of debt, according to a report from Aviva.

Forty per cent of people in their 50s expect to work until 70 or older, the insurer found. In a sign that the days of early retirement – in the private sector at least – are over, only 5% said they were financially capable of retiring in their 50s.

Aviva, one of Britain’s biggest pension providers, interviewed 500 companies and 2,000 employees. It said: “More than one in three (36%) private sector employees aged 50 and above now expect to retire at a later date than they had envisaged when they were 40. The average time gap between when these people thought they would retire versus when they think they will now retire is eight years.”

The collapse of generous final-salary-based pension schemes and their replacement with policies that rely on stock market performance to determine payouts is behind many of the retirement fears of private sector workers in their 50s.

The research found that almost half of people questioned said that they had not saved enough into their pension, and that the amount available through the state pension would not be enough. Lingering debts are also a continuing worry among today’s 50-year-olds, with many expecting to have to pay a mortgage well into their 60s.

But the Aviva report also found that workers who stayed with their employer past 65 report higher levels of job satisfaction than their younger colleagues. “Beyond their 50th birthday, almost two in three (64%) employees feel valued by their employer, and there is a significant jump in this percentage as people age. Compared with 55% of those aged 50-54, more than four in five (81%) of over-65s feel valued in the workplace,” the report found.

3 Sydney home prices record biggest fall in 7 years (Straits Times) Sydney home values fell the most in seven years in the December quarter as a regulatory crackdown amid record prices pushed up mortgage rates and sapped demand.

The residential property index in Australia's biggest city dropped 1.6 per cent, the first decline in 13 quarters, according to government statistics. Sydney prices have, however, recovered in the first two months of the year, more recent data from research firm CoreLogic Inc.

Home-price growth in Australia's biggest cities is expected to slow as mortgage-rate increases and tightening lending standards, introduced as prices climbed to a record, hurt buyer affordability. Sydney home values have climbed about 70 per cent since the end of 2007, while in Melbourne they have risen about 50 per cent, data from the statistics bureau show.

Home values across the largest cities in the country expanded 0.2 per cent in the December quarter, according to the data. The total value of Australia's 9.6 million residential dwellings increased A$31.6 billion to A$5.9 trillion.

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