BlackFire Finance

Human behavior flows from three main sources: desire, emotion, and knowledge.
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Welcome to Blackfire Finance, dedicated to Finance, Money, Business and Most Importantly Knowledge

Personal Finance: The Best Way To Save Up Your Money

Dinners on a budget, using no-frills home brand products and skipping small little splurges here and there may seem like the only real way to save money. But there are more refined tricks and life hacks that could easily save you a buck or two. Here are a few tips from The Simple Dollar that could help you sustain your finances and give you a lot more security.

Give yourself a goal

Setting yourself a goal can be the most challenging and rewarding ways to save money. Identify your purpose, why do you want to save money? What are you working towards? Are you saving up for a goal, a house, a holiday trip or an expensive pair of shoes? Give yourself a number and calculate between your salary and how much you’ll need to divide and set aside in order for you to reach your goal.

Keep track of your spendings

It’s not always easy to remember where all of your money is going. Keeping record of your spendings can help you track your patterns and bad habits in order for you to reduce excess costs and keep you spending on the right things.


Move bank accounts to take advantage of perks and earn more interest

According to The Simple Dollar, “if you’re paying a monthly fee for your checking or savings account, you would benefit from researching some of newest banking offers out there. Not only do some banks offer sign-up bonuses simply for opening an account and setting up direct deposit, but some offer attractive interest rates to new customers as well.

It’s true that interest rates are not what they once were, but it’s still worth a look. Some of the best free checking accounts and best savings accounts can be found online. Here’s a guide on how to make that switch.”

 Sell your goods

If you own any high quality products that are of value and not in use, it’s always a good idea to sell it to someone in need. This rewarding trade can help you earn a few extra dollars whilst also freeing up your home space for more important things. Consider selling your items on online platforms such as gumtree.com.au

Sign up for every free customer rewards program you can.

The Simple Dollar suggests that, “no matter where you live, you’ll find plenty of retailers who are willing to reward you for shopping at their store. Here’s the basic game plan for maximizing these programs: create a Gmail or Yahoo address just for these mailings, collect every card you can, and then check that account for extra coupons whenever you’re ready to shop. You can add to those rewards and discounts by using rewards credit cards to earn points on purchases at a wide range of stores that can be redeemed for cash back or other benefits.”

The 30-day rule.

The most important rules of personal finance is waiting 30 days before deciding to make a purchase. According to The Simple Dollar, “After a month has passed, you’ll find that the urge to buy has passed as well, and you’ll have saved yourself some money simply by waiting. If you’re on the fence about a purchase anyway, waiting a while can give you a better perspective on whether it’s truly worth the money.”

Avoid convenience foods and fast food.

 

As well as eating healthier, avoiding packaged frozen foods, takeaway or fast food can save you a lot of money as fast food items tend to cost a lot more whilst feeding you less.

CBA

News: CBA Delivers $2.4 Billion for First Quarter Profit

Commonwealth Bank of Australia has recorded a $2.4 billion profit in its first quarter, with slight slowdown in income growth compared to the previous year.

CBA said the decline was due to the falling interest rates, stronger currency and higher insurance claims.

In total, CBA’s full-year cash profit to June 30 amounted to $9.45 billion.

Westpac announced on Monday that its full-year profit amounted to $7.82 billion, while National Australia Bank delivered $6.48 billion and ANZ reported 18 per cent decline in profit to $5.9 billion.

Alipay CBA

News: Alipay Enters Australian Market With Commonwealth Bank Partnership

Commonwealth Bank of Australia have signed an agreement with third-party payment platform Alipay to allow Chinese tourists and students to use Alipay in Australia.

The deal will also enable Australians to use Alipay for purchases over AliExpress, a platform for Chinese merchants to reach global consumers.

“We are constantly working on payment solutions that offer flexibility and choice for our customers so the prospect of bringing them closer to a globally leading mobile payments provider, and its 450 million active users, is truly exciting,” said Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, group executive of institutional banking and markets at CBA.

Alipay said the deal is targeted at the 19,000 Chinese tourists who visit Australia every week.

“Australia is a popular destination for Chinese travellers and Chinese students studying overseas,” said Douglas Feagin, senior vice-president at Ant Financial Services and head at Alipay International. “We want Alipay users to enjoy the kind of convenience they are used to at home.”

Alipay’s parent company, Ant Financial was valued at $US75 billion in September.

China is the world’s largest market for mobile payment, with a transaction volume of $US235 billion in 2015.

Market: Latest Stock Market News – US Election

It has been reported on Monday that international stock markets has risen. With the Dow Jones industrial average increased by 371.32 points, this has suggested positive news for Clinton following the FBI email investigation.

According to an article on CBC, “Investors have been anxious in recent weeks over signs that the presidential race was tightening. Stock markets hate instability, and a Clinton presidency is being interpreted as a continuation of the status quo.”

CBC also reported that “A broader market index, the S&P 500, ended Friday on its longest losing streak since 1980 — nine days in a row — on fears that Republican candidate Donald Trump may ascend to the White House.” There was confidence on Monday as the market with the S&P reaching 46.34 points, to 2,131.52

Phil Blancato, CEO of Ladenburg Thalmann Asset Management has stated that “This is not a rational market. This is a reaction to less uncertainty,” “In those kinds of markets, people are jumping into stocks that they think are cheap. And what are the cheapest right now? Financials and health care.”

For Toronto’s stock market, the S&P/TSX composite index is rising by 143.20 points to just over 14,652.45.

Gold has lost $25.10 US an ounce to hit $1,279.40 US an ounce.

The December contract for light sweet crude dipped by 82 cents, closing at $44.89 US a barrel.

The Canadian dollar rose by 0.17 of a cent to finish at 74.78 cents US.

RBA

RBA Keeps Interest Rates at 1.5 Per Cent

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has announced that it would keep the cash rate at 1.5 per cent, only two weeks after governor Philip Lowe said more interest rate cuts might be necessary to prevent rising inflation.

“The board judged that holding the stance of policy unchanged … would be consistent with sustainable growth in the economy and achieving the inflation target over time,” the RBA stated.

“The bank’s forecasts for output growth and inflation are little changed from those of three months ago,” Dr. Lowe said in a statement on Friday.

“Over the next year, the economy is forecast to grow at close to its potential rate, before gradually strengthening. Inflation is expected to pick up gradually over the next two years.”

The RBA also expected commodity prices to stabilise after inflating by 9.5 per cent in October.

Economists expect the rate to remain on hold, at least through 2017.

“Moving forward, if domestic economic data remains strong, there should be no reason for the Reserve Bank to change their stance on monetary policy,” said John Flavell, chief executive at Mortgage Choice. “As such, the cash rate could be left on hold at 1.5 per cent for the foreseeable future.”

“Even though the underlying inflation rate is still below the RBA’s target rate, ‘keeping its powder dry’ is absolutely the right monetary policy decision for the moment,” said Brendan Rynne, chief economist at KPMG. “Waiting for a clearer picture of which way the local and international economic forces are moving is smart.”

building

News: Chinese Investment in Australia’s Property Market Declines

Chinese property investment in Australia has declined by 37 per cent year-on-year, according to a report by London-based property consultancy Knight Frank.

The Changing Currents, Rising Tides report found that Chinese developers and investors spent US$1.7billion in the first half of 2016, with the volume of office and hotel transactions dropping 65 per cent and 42 per cent respectively year-on-year.

“The volume of Chinese investment in Australia is down considerably year-on-year because of a lack of mega-deals in the first half, as large deals such as the Investa portfolio dragged the 2015 number higher,” said Matt Whitby, head of research and consulting at Knight Frank.

However, Whitby said en-block commercial properties in Sydney and Melbourne remained popular to Chinese investors, who were “attracted by rental growth supported by strong tenant demand and a supply shortage.”

The report also noted that Chinese investors’ interest in foreign real estate market remained strong, “driven by Chinese economic and policy factors and are attracted by favourable local market conditions in gateway cities” in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dominic Ong, head of Asian markets at Knight Frank indicated that more major deals could be made in the second half of the year, as fewer transaction opportunities and a promising rental market have pulled in investors.

“Activity has picked up in the past few months,” said Ong.

“Some of the most recent transactions in Australia from Chinese buyers include 15 Help Street, Chatswood which sold for $43.8 million to One Pro Investment Group; 20 Bridge Street, Pymble which sold for $78 million to YuHu; 210 George Street, Sydney sold for $160 million to Poly Group; and 61 Lavender Street, Milsons Point sold to Aqualand for $110 million.”

 

Construction equipment sales in China have improved based on reports from Equipment hunt

Finance Trends: Construction Industry

Financing in the construction industry continues to be a challenge for many contractors in the United States, according to Todd A. Feuerman of Construction Global.

He states that “even during the pre-recession period, lending to construction firms presented challenges to most banks.” Feuerman suspects “that this was due to a number of economic factors, including the sensitivity of contractors to economic cycles, revenue fluctuations from year to year, excess competition and the expansion of the construction industry”.

Additionally, Feuerman concludes that “there are other credit underwriting issues that continue to challenge banks in lending to construction firms, including prominent construction company failures, the unpredictable nature of the work, estimates used in the preparation of financial statements, diminished gross profit margins with continued backlog profit erosion, lending against bonded accounts receivable and addressing “quasi liens” on accounts receivable secured with joint check agreements”.

Coins

Lifestyle: What Is A Home Equity Loan?

When you are looking to renovate or buy a second house, home equity loan might be a good idea. What is home equity loan, and how can you benefit from it? Let’s look deeper.

Home equity loan – what is it?

According to infochoice.com.au, home equity loans (or lines of credit) “are given to the home owners to renovate their home or to buy a second property. Home equity is the difference between the value of your home and the money you owe.”

For example, if you owe $200,000 and your home’s worth is $600,000, your home equity limit would be $400,000. You would be able to apply for a loan of up to $400,000.

As yourmortgage explains, the amount of interests you need to pay depend on how much money you are drawing out. For example, if you take out $100,000 to purchase a car, you would only need to pay interests calculated based on this amount instead of the whole $400,000.

The benefits of home equity loan

“People are using home equity for what they need [rather than] what they want,” Kelly Kockos, senior vice president of home equity for Wells Fargo said.

Home equity loans are mostly used for durable purposes, such as house renovating, vehicles, aged care accommodation and more.

The interest rates for home equity are also generally lower (ranging from 3.5-4.5%) than personal or credit card loans (starting from 6%).

Home equity loans also enable you to access large amount of fund that you can use or save to reduce interests. You have flexibility in managing repayments – it enables you to pay more than the minimum if you want to shorten the loan term.

The risks of home equity loan

You will need to be mindful about your daily transactions, as you have access to large amount of additional funds. If you are impulsive in making financial decisions, home equity loan might not be the right choice as it can increase your debt significantly.

Using home equity loan for investment or to lend to other people (e.g. relatives and family members) is also not recommendable, as you will be risking your own home in the process.

Oil rig

Market: Oil Prices Fall Following Iraq’s Backtracking on OPEC Output Curb

Oil prices have fallen following Iraq’s statement that it sought to be exempt from the OPEC’s planned output cuts, as the group seeks to stabilise crude market.

Iraqi officials were reported on Sunday saying they would not reduce output, which is currently at 4.77 million barrels per day, because the country needed more fund to fight Islamic State militants.

Oil prices fluctuate around US$50 per barrel, mostly down 30 cents or 0.6%. West Texas Intermediate for December delivery dropped 33 cents to close at $US50.52 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent fell 32 cents to $US51.46 per barrel.

Iraq is the second-largest oil producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), behind Saudi Arabia.

“Iraq’s request to be exempted from a deal to cut output has further clouded the prospect of OPEC strategy to stabilise the oil market succeeding,” said Danske Bank analyst, Jens Naervig Pedersen.

“There is a risk that Iraq’s refusal could trigger a domino effect that other producers would ask to be exempt from the cuts too,”  SCI International energy analyst, Gao Jian said.

OPEC members Iran, Libya and Nigeria expected to be spared from the deal. “If they do nothing, OPEC production next year is likely to average at least 34 mbpd (million barrels a day) with a real threat of it reaching close to 35 mbpd if the chaos in Libya and Nigeria were to be resolved,” broker PVM said.

OPEC produced a record of 33.75 million barrels per day in September, with Saudi Arabia producing 10.58 million of them.

coins finance

Global Economics/News: China’s Slowdown Is Biggest Economic Threat

China’s slowdown is the biggest threat facing global economy, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) told BBC.

Current Professor of Economics at Harvard University and former IMF economist Ken Rogoff said the economy could be “slowing down much more than the official figures show.”

“Everyone says China’s different, the state owns everything they can control it,” Rogoff said. “Only to a point. It’s definitely a worry, a hard landing in China.

“If you want to look at a part of the world that has a debt problem, look at China. They’ve seen credit fuelled growth and these things don’t go on forever.”

A Reuters poll shows that China’s economic growth next year is expected to slow down to 6.5 per cent, compared to this year’s 6.6 per cent.

The decline in global demand has resulted in the country’s exports falling 10 per cent year-on-year in September. Analysts also expect the increasing national debt levels to trigger a new financial crisis.

Furthermore, private investment has continued to drop. “The slowdown in private sector investment over the past years means that the organic growth momentum of the economy may have declined, requiring policymakers to be more vigilant in terms of keeping policies as supportive as possible,” said economists at HSBC in a statement.

The Chinese government has allocated more spending to provide fiscal stimulus, cutting lending rates six times since November 2014 and lowering banks’ cash reserve requirements to 17 per cent. However, analysts believe the government’s effort to increase liquidity in the market will not help much, as investors are more likely to save than make new investments.