Texas Blackout Boosts Macquarie Bank By Up To $270 Million
Kanebridge News
    HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $1,428,634 (-1.45%)       Melbourne $930,989 (-0.82%)       Brisbane $810,456 (+0.44%)       Adelaide $761,620 (-0.66%)       Perth $660,033 (+0.19%)       Hobart $726,275 (-0.58%)       Darwin $631,920 (+0.43%)       Canberra $949,792 (+1.48%)       National $928,905 (-0.56%)                UNIT MEDIAN ASKING PRICES AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $711,464 (+0.99%)       Melbourne $479,443 (-0.34%)       Brisbane $444,216 (-2.99%)       Adelaide $355,517 (-1.97%)       Perth $374,449 (+1.17%)       Hobart $534,602 (-0.33%)       Darwin $342,769 (-5.36%)       Canberra $499,736 (+1.97%)       National $495,165 (-0.04%)                HOUSES FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 9,160 (+153)       Melbourne 12,809 (+376)       Brisbane 9,350 (+98)       Adelaide 2,738 (+51)       Perth 8,333 (+89)       Hobart 1,098 (-10)       Darwin 258 (+2)       Canberra 936 (-1)       National 44,682 (+758)                UNITS FOR SALE AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 7,898 (+94)       Melbourne 7,166 (+23)       Brisbane 2,088 (+33)       Adelaide 486 (+10)       Perth 2,308 (+39)       Hobart 153 (-10)       Darwin 379 (+7)       Canberra 522 (+1)       ational 21,000 (+197)                HOUSE MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $690 (+$5)       Melbourne $525 (+$5)       Brisbane $570 (+$10)       Adelaide $550 (+$10)       Perth $575 (+$5)       Hobart $565 (-$5)       Darwin $700 (-$20)       Canberra $690 ($0)       National $616 (+$2)                    UNIT MEDIAN ASKING RENTS AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney $660 (+$10)       Melbourne $500 ($0)       Brisbane $550 (+$10)       Adelaide $420 ($0)       Perth $520 ($0)       Hobart $470 (+$20)       Darwin $530 ($0)       Canberra $550 (-$10)       National $533 (+$4)                HOUSES FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 5,678 (-134)       Melbourne 5,496 (+1)       Brisbane 3,855 (+40)       Adelaide 1,147 (+38)       Perth 1,656 (+15)       Hobart 274 (-1)       Darwin 122 (+2)       Canberra 705 (+7)       National 18,933 (-32)                UNITS FOR RENT AND WEEKLY CHANGE     Sydney 6,667 (+140)       Melbourne 4,149 (-45)       Brisbane 1,304 (-20)       Adelaide 351 (+15)       Perth 708 (+38)       Hobart 128 (-11)       Darwin 199 (-13)       Canberra 526 (+4)       National 14,032 (+108)                HOUSE ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 2.51% (↑)      Melbourne 2.93% (↑)      Brisbane 3.66% (↑)      Adelaide 3.76% (↑)      Perth 4.53% (↑)        Hobart 4.05% (↓)       Darwin 5.76% (↓)       Canberra 3.78% (↓)       National 3.45% (↓)            UNIT ANNUAL GROSS YIELDS AND TREND       Sydney 4.82% (↑)      Melbourne 5.42% (↑)      Brisbane 6.44% (↑)      Adelaide 6.14% (↑)        Perth 7.22% (↓)     Hobart 4.57% (↑)      Darwin 8.04% (↑)      Canberra 5.72% (↑)      National 5.60% (↑)             HOUSE RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 1.6% (↑)      Melbourne 1.8% (↑)      Brisbane 0.5% (↑)      Adelaide 0.5% (↑)      Perth 1.0% (↑)      Hobart 0.9% (↑)      Darwin 1.1% (↑)      Canberra 0.5% (↑)      National 1.2% (↑)             UNIT RENTAL VACANCY RATES AND TREND       Sydney 2.3% (↑)      Melbourne 2.8% (↑)      Brisbane 1.2% (↑)      Adelaide 0.7% (↑)      Perth 1.3% (↑)      Hobart 1.4% (↑)      Darwin 1.3% (↑)      Canberra 1.3% (↑)      National 2.1% (↑)             AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL HOUSES AND TREND       Sydney 26.9 (↑)        Melbourne 27.0 (↓)       Brisbane 32.8 (↓)       Adelaide 25.0 (↓)       Perth 32.3 (↓)       Hobart 27.2 (↓)     Darwin 34.8 (↑)        Canberra 26.9 (↓)       National 29.1 (↓)            AVERAGE DAYS TO SELL UNITS AND TREND         Sydney 25.4 (↓)       Melbourne 26.0 (↓)       Brisbane 28.3 (↓)       Adelaide 23.8 (↓)       Perth 37.5 (↓)     Hobart 24.0 (↑)        Darwin 35.6 (↓)       Canberra 29.8 (↓)       National 28.8 (↓)           
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Texas Blackout Boosts Macquarie Bank By Up To $270 Million

Macquarie shares up as a result of Texan deep freeze.

By Joe Wallace and Ryan Dezember
Tue, Feb 23, 2021 3:41amGrey Clock 4 min

The deep freeze that plunged millions of Texans into darkness is rippling through energy markets in unexpected ways, producing a financial windfall for Macquarie bank and severe pain for other companies caught up in the disruption.

The extreme weather froze wind turbines and oil-and-gas wells, closed oil refiners and prompted power stations to trip offline, sending a jolt through energy markets. Wholesale power prices rocketed, as did spot prices for natural gas in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas.

The turbulence led to a bonanza for commodity traders at Macquarie Group Ltd., whose ability to funnel gas and electricity around the country enabled them to capitalise on soaring demand and prices in states such as Texas.

The bank bumped up its guidance Monday for earnings in the year through March to reflect the windfall. It said that net profit after tax would be 5% to 10% higher than in the 2020 fiscal year. That equates to an increase of up to $273.1 million. In its previous guidance, issued Feb. 9, Macquarie said it expected profits to be slightly down on 2020.

“Extreme winter weather conditions in North America have significantly increased short-term client demand for Macquarie’s capabilities in maintaining critical physical supply across the commodity complex, and particularly in relation to gas and power,” the bank said.

Macquarie’s windfall shows how big profits can be made wagering on relative scarcity of natural gas in a country awash in the fuel.

The U.S. shale-drilling boom unleashed so much gas over the past decade that prices have been depressed to the point that producers with gushers have gone bankrupt. Yet gas buyers, such as power plants and manufacturers, are routinely left paying surging prices when demand peaks during winter storms.

Behind such instances of energy feast and famine is a gas infrastructure system that has failed to keep up with all the drilling. Pipelines laid decades before the shale boom are often in the wrong places, or too small to meet today’s demand. Having space reserved on certain pipelines can become incredibly lucrative when uncharacteristic weather causes swells in demand.

Scarcity in Texas and the Great Plains was amplified last week when temperatures dropped low enough to freeze shut many of the region’s gas wells and other energy infrastructure. Capacity on pipelines into the region became precious. Traders and energy firms that had paid in advance for the right to use these supply routes were suddenly in position to rake in huge profits as utilities vied for fuel deliveries.

Macquarie describes itself as the second-largest marketer of physical gas in North America behind BP PLC, with a team in Houston and access to 80% of pipelines spanning the U.S., according to a person familiar with the matter. The business, which Macquarie has built out for over a decade, received a boost from the acquisition of Cargill Inc.’s North America power and gas division in 2017.

The bank rents access to natural-gas pipelines and electricity networks across the U.S., enabling it to profit when prices in some regions are significantly higher than in others and when consumers are in urgent need of fuel or power. That was the case last week, when frozen energy infrastructure and the closure of oil-and-gas wells set off a race for natural gas among Texas power plants and other consumers.

Macquarie sent large volumes of gas from the north of the U.S. to the south, where the cold weather sent prices soaring last week, the person familiar with the matter said. It supplied electricity in Texas as well as gas to generate electrical power.

At one point, natural gas changed hands for more than $900 per million British thermal units at the ONEOK Gas Transportation hub in Oklahoma, according to commodities data provider S&P Global Platts. By Friday, prices at the hub had fallen back to about $14 per million British thermal units. That was still comparatively high: Benchmark futures for U.S. natural gas, which are tied to delivery at Henry Hub in Louisiana, have generally cost between $2.50 and $3.50 per million British thermal units in recent months.

Shares of Macquarie rose 3.4% on Monday after the company raised its profit outlook. They are now down 2.8% over the past 12 months.

Millions were left without power and heat in Texas last week as the lowest temperatures in decades wreaked havoc on the state’s utilities. Frozen water lines burst and left big residents in cities without safe drinking water. Stores closed because they had no power, which made food and water even more scarce.

Roughly 70 deaths, mostly in Texas, have been attributed to the cold weather, according to the Associated Press. Some are believed to have frozen to death in their homes.

Macquarie last year provided an undisclosed amount of investment capital to upstart Houston-based utility Griddy Energy LLC, whose business model is to pass variable wholesale electricity prices through to customers. Griddy customers complained of paying lofty sums when power prices shot up to thousands of dollars per megawatt hour last week, according to local Texas media reports.

One customer told the Dallas Morning News that his electric bill for five days stood at US$5000, the amount he would normally pay for several years of power. Another told the Dallas-Fort Worth NBC affiliate that he had been charged more than US$16000 for February.

A Griddy spokeswoman said an order by the state utility agency to the operator of the electricity grid to make market prices reflect the scarcity of power pushed up prices for its customers. On Feb. 12, the company started emailing and texting customers to say they might be better off switching providers for a short time to avoid exposure to wholesale prices, she said.

Corporate casualties from the freeze are also starting to emerge. Just Energy Group Inc., a Canada-based energy supplier, on Monday said it faced a financial hit of about US$250 million, in part from buying electricity at sky-high prices in Texas during the cold blast. The company, which said the blow could stop it from continuing as a going concern, saw its shares slump 31%.

In another instance, shares of Atmos Energy Corp. fell 4.4% Monday after the Dallas-based gas supplier said it would have to pay between US$2.5 billion and US$3.5 billion for gas it bought at elevated prices in Texas, Colorado and Kansas. Atmos may issue stock or raise debt to help to pay for the purchases, it said Friday.

German energy company RWE AG said its 2021 earnings would be hit by outages at the company’s wind turbines, as well as from high prices for electricity.

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How 20 Seconds Can Make You a Better Investor

Investors are taming impulsive money moves by adding a little friction to financial transactions

By IMANI MOISE
Tue, Mar 14, 2023 4 min

To break the day-trading habit that cost him friendships and sleep, crypto fund manager Thomas Meenink first tried meditation and cycling. They proved no substitute for the high he got scrolling through investing forums, he said.

Instead, he took a digital breath. He installed software that imposed a 20-second delay whenever he tried to open CoinStats or Coinbase.

Twenty seconds might not seem like much, but feels excruciating in smartphone time, he said. As a result, he checks his accounts 60% less.

“I have to consciously make an effort to go look at stuff that I actually want to know instead of scrolling through feeds and endless conversations about stuff that is actually not very useful,” he said.

More people are adding friction to curb all types of impulsive behaviour. App-limiting services such as One Sec and Opal were originally designed to help users cut back on social-media scrolling.

Now, they are being put to personal-finance use by individuals and some banking and investing platforms. On One Sec, the number of customers using the app to add a delay to trading or banking apps more than quintupled between 2021 and 2022. Opal says roughly 5% of its 100,000 active users rely on the app to help spend less time on finance apps, and 22% use it to block shopping apps such as Amazon.com Inc.

Economic researchers and psychologists say introducing friction into more apps can help people act in their own best interests. Whether we are trading or scrolling social media, the impulsive, automatic decision-making parts of our brains tend to win out over our more measured critical thinking when we use our smartphones, said Ankit Kalda, a finance professor at Indiana University who has studied the impact of mobile trading apps on investor behaviour.

His 2021 study tracked the behaviour of investors on different platforms over seven years and found that experienced day traders made more frequent, riskier bets and generated worse returns when using a smartphone than when using a desktop trading tool.

Most financial-technology innovation over the past decade focused on reducing the friction of moving money around to enable faster and more seamless transactions. Apps such as Venmo made it easier to pay the babysitter or split a bill with friends, and digital brokerages such as Robinhood streamlined mobile trading of stocks and crypto.

These innovations often lead customers to trade or buy more to the benefit of investing and finance platforms. But now, some customers are finding ways to slow the process. Meanwhile, some companies are experimenting with ways to create speed bumps to protect users from their own worst instincts.

When investing app Stash launched retirement accounts for customers in 2017, its customer-service representatives were flooded with calls from panicked customers who moved quickly to open up IRAs without understanding there would be penalties for early withdrawals. Stash funded the accounts in milliseconds once a customer opted in, said co-founder Ed Robinson.

So to reduce the number of IRAs funded on impulse, the company added a fake loading page with additional education screens to extend the product’s onboarding process to about 20 seconds. The change led to lower call-centre volume and a higher rate of customers deciding to keep the accounts funded.

“It’s still relatively quick,” Mr. Robinson said, but those extra steps “allow your brain to catch up.”

Some big financial decisions such as applying for a mortgage or saving for retirement can benefit from these speed bumps, according to ReD Associates, a consulting firm that specialises in using anthropological research to inform design of financial products and other services. More companies are starting to realise they can actually improve customer experiences by slowing things down, said Mikkel Krenchel, a partner at the firm.

“This idea of looking for sustainable behaviour, as opposed to just maximal behaviour is probably the mind-set that firms will try to adopt,” he said.

Slowing down processing times can help build trust, said Chianoo Adrian, a managing director at Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. When the money manager launched its online retirement checkup tool last year, customers were initially unsettled by how fast the website estimated their projected lifetime incomes.

“We got some feedback during our testing that individuals would say ‘Well, how did you know that already? Are you sure you took in all my responses?’ ” she said. The company found that the delay increased credibility with customers, she added.

For others, a delay might not be enough to break undesirable habits.

More people have been seeking treatment for day-trading addictions in recent years, said Lin Sternlicht, co-founder of Family Addiction Specialist, who has seen an increase in cases since the start of the pandemic.

“By the time individuals seek out professional help they are usually experiencing a crisis, and there is often pressure to seek help from a loved one,” she said.

She recommends people who believe they might have a day-trading problem unsubscribe from notifications and emails from related companies and change the color scheme on the trading apps to grayscale, which has been found to make devices less addictive. In extreme cases, people might want to consider deleting apps entirely.

For Perjan Duro, an app developer in Berlin, a 20-second delay wasn’t enough. A few months after he installed One Sec, he went a step further and deleted the app for his retirement account.

“If you don’t have it on your phone, [that] helps you avoid that bad decision,” he said.

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