Folkes pays price for Dragons woes

Parting of the ways: St George Illawarra assistant Steve Folkes and head coach Steve Price. Photo: Kirk GilmourFormer premiership-winning coach Steve Folkes is set to be the first casualty of St George Illawarra’s poor season as the Dragons look to revamp their coaching structure next year.
Nanjing Night Net

Fairfax Media understands Folkes, an assistant coach to Steve Price, has been told his contract won’t be renewed at the end of this season. Folkes joined the Dragons on a two-year deal last year to add some experience to the coaching ranks. But with the Dragons sitting just two points away from last place, the club hierarchy thinks changes are needed, with Folkes likely to exit at season’s end. St George Illawarra have won just two of their past nine games and are on the verge of missing finals in consecutive years for the first time in the joint-venture club’s history.

Folkes’ demotion comes after the Dragons re-signed Price for an extra season earlier this year. Folkes has had a decorated coaching career. He spent 11-seasons in charge of Canterbury, including the 2004 premiership win. He left at the end of 2008 before taking up a stint as the fitness coordinator for the West Indies cricket team. Folkes also spent time at the Wests Tigers before joining Price and fellow assistant Joey Grima at the Dragons.

The changes will force a reshuffle within the Dragons coaching ranks. It is understood under-20s coach Justin Holbrook will follow Price’s lead and make the jump from the Holden Cup to first grade assistant after coaching the youth side for the past two years. Holbrook, who played 17 top grade games for Newcastle, Penrith and Sydney Roosters between 1999-2002, also coached Canterbury’s NSW Cup team to successive premierships before joining the Dragons last year. Former St George Illawarra captain Paul McGregor is also expected to rejoin the club’s full-time ranks again as another assistant to Price. McGregor has spent the past two seasons in charge of the Dragons NSW Cup side, Illawarra Cutters, having been part of Nathan Brown’s coaching set-up before Wayne Bennett’s arrival at the Dragons in 2009.

Their vacancies are expected to be filled by recent retirees Ben Hornby and Dean Young. Hornby is likely to take control of the under 20s from next season while Young will replace McGregor. After retiring last year, the duo coached St George and Illawarra’s respective SG Ball under-18 sides this year before Hornby moved on to the under-20 team’s set-up and Young the NSW Cup, when their short seasons ended in April.

A loss to the high flying Sydney Roosters on Saturday could result in the Dragons slumping to last on the premiership ladder.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Sixers eye ex-Test batsman North

In demand: Marcus North plays for the Perth Scorchers in last year’s Big Bash League. Photo: Dallas Kilponen DAKFormer Test batsman Marcus North is likely to join the Sydney Sixers for this summer’s Twenty20 Big Bash League.
Nanjing Night Net

Franchises are in the midst of the player-contracting window for next season’s tournament – the first to be broadcast on free-to-air television – and 2011-12 champions the Sixers are understood to be in talks with North as they seek to complete their squad list within the $1.05 million retainer pool.

The 33-year-old veteran of 21 Tests was previously at last season’s finalists Perth Scorchers and notably quit the Western Australia captaincy last October after the Scorchers’ Champions League campaign unravelled in South Africa.

Elsewhere, the Sixers have retained the services of veteran crowd-puller Brett Lee despite suggestions he may have been heading across town to rivals Sydney Thunder.

The mission to transform the ANZ Stadium-based side from basketcase to boom franchise could, however, see Australian opener David Warner lost to the Sixers. The Thunder have already made the key acquisition of Michael Hussey, and have Test captain Michael Clarke on their books.

Although Warner, like Clarke, would only be available for one or perhaps two games if on international duty this summer, his return to the electric green would be another boost for last season’s BBL cellar dwellers.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

July RBA statement on monetary policy

At its meeting today, the Board decided to leave the cash rate unchanged at 2.75 per cent.
Nanjing Night Net

Recent information is consistent with global growth running a bit below average this year, with reasonable prospects of a pick-up next year. Commodity prices have declined further but, overall, remain at high levels by historical standards. Inflation has moderated over recent months in a number of countries.

Globally, financial conditions remain very accommodative. However, a reassessment by the market of the outlook for monetary policy in the United States has seen a noticeable rise in sovereign bond yields from exceptionally low levels. Volatility in financial markets has increased and there has been some widening of credit spreads.

In Australia, the recent national accounts confirmed that the economy has been growing a bit below trend over the recent period. This is expected to continue in the near term as the economy adjusts to lower levels of mining investment. The unemployment rate has edged higher over the past year and growth in labour costs has moderated. Inflation has been consistent with the medium-term target and is expected to remain so over the next one to two years, notwithstanding the effects of the recent depreciation of the exchange rate.

The easing in monetary policy over the past 18 months has supported interest-sensitive spending and asset values and further effects can be expected over time. The pace of borrowing has remained relatively subdued, though recently there are signs of increased demand for finance by households.

The Australian dollar has depreciated by around 10 per cent since early April, although it remains at a high level. It is possible that the exchange rate will depreciate further over time, which would help to foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy.

At today’s meeting the Board judged that the easier financial conditions now in place will contribute to a strengthening of growth over time, consistent with achieving the inflation target. It decided that the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate for the time being. The Board also judged that the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

RBA holds fire on interest rates

The Reserve Bank has keep the cash rate on hold for the second consecutive month, but has kept the door open for further cuts if they are needed to stimulate the economy.
Nanjing Night Net

The cash rate remained at 2.75 per cent, a 53-year low, after the last RBA cut in May.

“At today’s meeting the Board judged that the easier financial conditions now in place will contribute to a strengthening of growth over time, consistent with achieving the inflation target,” Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens said in a short statement.

“It decided that the stance of monetary policy remained appropriate for the time being. The Board also judged that the inflation outlook, as currently assessed, may provide some scope for further easing, should that be required to support demand.”

The Australian dollar was trading at 92.23 US cents just before the statement was released. It rose slightly before slipping about a quarter of a cent to 91.72 US cents.

Financial markets were pricing in a 14 per cent chance of a 25-basis-points cut today, according to Credit Suisse data.

A majority of economists had expected the central bank to stay its hand, after a sharp fall in the Australian dollar over the past few months helped to ease the pressure on export-oriented sectors of the economy.

Mr Stevens said the Australian dollar still remained at a “high level” despite its recent falls.

Since the last RBA cut in May, the Australian dollar has slipped more than 10 per cent against its US counterpart, with currency strategists not expecting it to return to its above parity levels.

The Reserve Bank said in its June board minutes that further falls in the dollar would help to “foster a rebalancing of growth in the economy” as the mining boom peaks. Mr Stevens repeated the same comments in his statement today.

Analysts said the RBA could to ease rates again later this year amid a slower-than-expected transition towards non-mining-led growth as the resources investment boom peaks.

Data released yesterday suggested that the housing and manufacturing sectors – two key industries economists said needed to grow – were strengthening. But analysts said the sectors needed to expand more to fill the gap left by mining.

Economists said fears about China’s slowing economy and credit crunch were also weighing on Australia’s growth.

The Reserve Bank’s current easing cycle started in November 2011. The cash rate has fallen by 200 points since then.

More to come…

RBA interest rate decisions in current easing cycle

2013

May 7: -0.25, to 2.75 per cent

2012

Dec 5: -0.25, to 3 per centOctober 3: -0.25, to 3.25 per centJune 6: -0.25, to 3.5 per centMay 2: -0.50, to 3.75 per cent

2011

December 7: -0.25, to 4.25 per centNovember 2: -0.25, to 4.5 per cent