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Thursday, 14-Nov-2013 12:38 Email | Share | Bookmark
Westpac In Record Profit; Australia Banks Set For Bumper 2014

Westpac also joined Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd , Commonwealth Bank of Australia and National Australia Bank Ltd in rewarding shareholders with dividend hikes. It lifted its final dividend 5 percent to A$0.88 per share and unveiled a special dividend of A$0.10 per share. CREDIT GROWTH The sector's strong earnings run has come despite some leaner times in bank lending. Annual Australian credit growth stands at 3.3 percent, down from some 15 percent in 2007 while housing credit growth is at around 5 percent, down from 20 percent a decade ago. But Westpac noted encouraging signs. "There is no doubt that domestically we are seeing a pick-up in consumer confidence which we expect will translate to a gradual increase in credit growth," Chief Executive Gail Kelly said in a statement. Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, also noted that housing data over the last three months has been positive, boding well for the mortgage market - a key profit centre for Australian banks. An index for home prices in the country's major cities rose strongly for a second straight month in October to an unprecedented high while parts of Sydney have seen close to record auction clearances. Figures like these have fuelled talk of a housing bubble but the central bank has called such talk "unrealistically alarmist". <br>For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit

ANZ targets new small businesses with $1bn in loans

Picture: File Source: AAP BIG four bank ANZ will lend $1 billion to new small businesses this year - a target aimed squarely at growing the pie rather than chasing existing customers. The ANZ sports a $150.5 billion non-housing loan book but it is unclear how much it currently lends to small business. Access to finance remains a key business challenge for small businesses, which contribute about 20 per cent of Australias GDP and are together responsible for almost half of the countrys private sector employment. About 32 per cent of small businesses responding to a CPA Australia survey last year said finance was easy to find, down from 36 per cent the previous year. This put Australian businesses ahead of their Hong Kong counterparts (22 per cent) but behind New Zealand small businesses (42 per cent). ANZs general manager of small business, Nick Reade, said the commitment was aimed at easing cash flow for new starters. <br>For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit

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