ECB in charge

European Union finance ministers have agreed to put the European Central Bank in charge of all eurozone banks in a deal that paves the way for the currency bloc's stability fund to provide direct bailouts. The EU Financial Services Commissioner, Michel Barnier, said the supervisor should be ready by March 2014, with about 200 banks automatically qualifying for direct ECB oversight. In the interim, the European Stability Mechanism could aid banks directly.


BoQ hopeful

The struggling Bank of Queensland is hopeful that interest rate cuts and a recovery in its home state property market will help restore earnings. The lender has become the first Australian bank to suffer a loss in two decades. But a month after revealing a $17 million annual loss, its chief executive, Stuart Grimshaw, predicted the worst was over for Queensland's sluggish housing market. "We've seen signs that it's bottomed," he said.


Iluka falls

Shares in Iluka Resources fell sharply after it said sales of one of its key products almost stopped in the second half. Iluka said sales volumes for its three main products - zircon, rutile and synthetic rutile - were expected to be at the bottom end of guidance. Prices have also fallen by 25-35 per cent as demand has dried up. The shares closed 5.5 per cent down at $8.16.


Bill shock curb

Overseas "bill shock" may soon be a thing of the past, with the communications regulator cracking down on telcos that do not warn customers of high roaming charges. The Australian Communications and Media Authority has released for comment a draft international mobile roaming standard that aims to improve consumer understanding of unexpected high charges when using mobile phones and other devices overseas.

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