News Wrap

IN THIS morning’s News Wrap: IMF pares global forecast amid commodity slump; banks under pressure to match ANZ's tough new coal lending guidelines; and energy regulator calls for gas market overhaul to meet consumer needs.

Lou Caruana

IMF pares global forecast amid commodity slump

A slowdown in emerging markets driven by weak commodity prices forced the International Monetary Fund to cut its outlook for global growth this year to 3.1% from a July forecast of 3.3%. Next year the world economy will expand 3.6%, less than the 3.8% projected in July.

“The ‘holy grail’ of robust and synchronised global expansion remains elusive,” IMF chief economist Maurice Obstfeld said in a statement on Tuesday accompanying the Washington-based fund's World Economic Outlook.

Australia's projected growth of 2.4% in 2015, a bit weaker than predicted by the Fund in April, reflects the impact of lower commodity prices and resource-related investment—partly offset by supportive monetary policy and a weaker exchange rate.

Banks under pressure to match ANZ's tough new coal lending guidelines

Rival banks are under pressure to follow ANZ Banking Group's lead and come up with tougher guidelines for lending to the coal industry, while the Greens are leaning on ANZ to rule out lending to the sector altogether, according to the Australian Financial Review.

“It puts pressure on the other banks to more clearly articulate to the market what parameters they have in place for managing carbon risk on their lending decisions,” the Investor group on Climate Change CEO Emma Herd said.

Energy regulator calls for gas market overhaul to meet consumer needs

The gas market needs to be overhauled as it is not meeting consumer needs, the head of the energy markets regulator says, pointing to opaque long-term gas supply contracts, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The reallocation of unused gas pipeline capacity has also been flagged.

Speaking at an industry forum on Tuesday, Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) chairman John Pierce said the development of “a liquid wholesale gas market to provide participants with greater flexibility outside of long-term contracts when buying and selling gas” was essential as part of the reviews being conducted into the gas market arrangements.