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Business news and updates: Kikki.K returns to the insolvency process for the second time in 17 months

Dynamic Business brings you a daily rundown of the most recent business news and developments from Australia and around the world. Here’s the roundup for September 1:

Australia’s account balance hits a record high

Australia’s current account surplus has reached a new high, with a $1.5 billion gain in the June quarter pushing it to $20.5 billion, thanks in large part to the higher iron ore price. 

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released new data, revealing a $3.5 billion increase in the country’s goods and services surplus balance after a $7 billion increase in exports offset by a $3.5 billion increase in imports. This is Australia’s eighth straight quarter with a current account surplus. 

Strong bulk commodity prices accounted for the majority of the increase, according to ABS head of international statistics Andrew Tomadini,.

Biggest rise in housing credit growth in over three years

Private sector credit increased by 0.7% in July to be up 4% year on year – the fastest annual growth rate in more than two years. Housing credit increased by 0.6% in July to 5.8% higher than a year ago, the biggest annual rate in three years. 

Owner-occupier home credit increased by 0.9%, the equal largest gain in 512 years, to 7.7% higher than a year before, the strongest AGR in three years. Investor home credit increased by 0.3% year on year, to be 2.3% higher than a year earlier — the highest annual pace in three years.

Lockdowns hit property auction clearance rates

Ongoing lockdowns in Sydney and Melbourne have hit property auctions in Australia’s two biggest cities, but most experts do not expect to see an end to the prolonged boom any time soon, though price rises are likely to slow.

Preliminary figures from researcher CoreLogic show that almost two-thirds of auctions scheduled in Melbourne during the week ending last Sunday were withdrawn, contributing to a clearance rate of a paltry 35 per cent.

However, in Sydney, sellers were still out in numbers, albeit with about 12 per cent of planned auctions pulled from the market. The city, nevertheless, produced a strong clearance rate of almost 83 per cent.

Crocs is suing Noni B, Rivers over trademark spat 

Crocs, the US footwear company, is suing the owner of Australian retailers Noni-B and Rivers, claiming that the style and name of its famous clogs have been stolen. 

Crocs have filed a federal lawsuit against Mosaic Brands, alleging that it sold shoes that were “substantially identical” or “deceptively similar” to Crocs’ form trademark. 

Crocs also allege Mosaic advertised the shoes using the word “crocs,” which is nearly identical to its Crocs word trademark. Crocs, based in the United States, owns the trademark for the shape of their shoes as well as the word “Croc.” 

Kikki.K stationery collapses again

Kikki.K, the stationery chain, has collapsed for the second time in 17 months, risking 300 Australian jobs. The company collapsed in March, owing creditors $20 million, but was saved by Erin Condren Designs (EC Designs), a US-based lifestyle goods company that seized ownership last August.

However, kikki.K co-founders Kristina Karlsson and Paul Lacy sent a note to employees about the sad day, disclosing that the company was returning to an insolvency procedure. 

U.S. consumer confidence falls to 6-month low

Consumer confidence in the United States dipped to its lowest level since February in August, as concerns about the quickly spreading delta strain of the coronavirus grew, as did concerns about increasing inflation. 

The Conference Board said that its consumer confidence index fell to 113.8 in August, down from 125.1 in July. It was the index’s lowest value since February when it was 95.2. 

The July index was lowered downward from an initially reported 129.1, following a reading of 128.9 in June, the strongest result since before the epidemic in February 2020.

The Conference Board said that concerns about the resurgence in COVID-19 cases as well as worries about rising gas and food prices had contributed to the drop.

Online gaming companies retreat after China’s regulatory action 

Minors in China will face stricter restrictions on when and for how long they can play online games. There were previously certain restrictions in place that permitted minors to play for up to 1.5 hours each day, seven days a week, or three hours per day on holidays. 

This limit has now been reduced to a weekly maximum of three hours. According to the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA), internet gaming has become a major issue, and the new limits would protect kids in an ‘era of national rejuvenation.’

All online games must now be linked to the NPPA’s anti-addiction real-name verification system under the new regulations. This will allow children to play online games for one hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Fridays, Weekends, and holidays.

China’s manufacturing sector hit after weakened export demand 

According to a study, China’s factory activity slowed in August as export demand decreased. The Chinese statistics bureau and an official industry group’s monthly purchasing managers’ index fell to 50.1 from 50.4 in July on a 100-point scale, with scores above 50 indicating increased activity. 

According to the National Bureau of Statistics and the China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing, a sub-measure of new exports declined by a full point from the previous month to 46.7. 

Officials have predicted that demand for Chinese exports will fall in the second half of the year. Flooding in July and tougher anti-coronavirus regulations have impacted factory and consumer activity.

$4.7 billion bet on India’s digital payments

In India, digital payments are exploding, and Prosus, a tech investment group, wants a greater piece of the action. The Netherlands-based company announced a $4.7 billion deal to acquire the Indian digital payments platform BillDesk. 

Prosus intends to integrate BillDesk with its own fintech company, PayU, to establish one of the world’s leading online payment services. PayU already has a presence in India, Latin America, and Europe. 

However, assuming India’s regulators approve the BillDesk transaction, Prosus’s stake in the country will nearly double.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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