Market Update – August 2017

View from the hill

Central bank cash rates and their outlook were the major features impacting markets over July. Overseas most central banks, except Japan, indicated that monetary conditions and interest rates had bottomed and were likely to tighten, albeit gradually, from here. In Australia, the RBA noted that the neutral cash rate is around 3.5% p.a., or some 200 basis points above the current cash rate.

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The Financial Engineer – Australian Equities Portfolio Strategy

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The market has positioned itself for rate rises by the RBA; bond rates and the $A have risen and interest-rate sensitive stocks have been hit. We see a rate rise from the RBA as unlikely this calendar year.  The latest CPI data showed inflation below the RBA’s target and the Australian economy faces more challenges from slowing housing construction and pressures on consumers from higher mortgage rates and electricity prices.

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Fish Pie with Mashed Potato Crust

It can be as simple or as complicated as you like, but a good fish pie is right at the pointy end of the comfort food pyramid for me.


  • boneless and skinless white fish fillets
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 250 ml milk
  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 100 g hot smoked fish, skinned, bones removed and flaked
  • 100 g frozen peas
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 150 ml dry cider
  • 50 g grated cheddar cheese

Mashed potato

  • 700 g floury potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 50 ml milk
  • 50 g butter


Step 1  Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Step 2  Cut the fresh white fish into chunks and place in a small baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the milk. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 10 minutes or until nearly cooked through. Drain the fish and reserve the milk.

Step 3  Meanwhile, to make the mashed potato, cook the potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Drain well, then return the potato to the pan. Add the milk and butter, then mash until smooth and season to taste.

Step 4  Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and stir for 2-3 minutes or until the mixture becomes sandy in colour. Gradually whisk in the reserved milk and continue to whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth. Add the poached and smoked fish, peas, parsley, egg and cider, then season to taste and stir until just combined. Take care not to break up the fish too much. Spoon the mixture into a 1 litre-capacity baking dish. Spoon the mash on top and smooth with a spatula. Sprinkle the top with grated cheese, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Notes:  It must have a mashed potato crust (not puffy pastry) and chopped boiled eggs. Make sure that the fish you buy is super-fresh and sustainably caught.

Source: Image by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by O Tama Carey. Creative concept by Belinda So.

Mixed Apple and Berry Sponge Pudding

Mixed apple & berry sponge puddingThis fruity winter pudding is perfect for cooler evenings.


  • 3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, plus 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
  • 500g frozen mixed berries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
  • 2 tablespoons whisky
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder, sifted
  • Icing sugar, to dust
  • Thick cream mixed with 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, to serve


Step 1  Preheat oven to 160C. Place the apple, juice and 1 cup (220g) sugar in a small pan and cook over low heat, stirring, for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apple softens slightly. Cool, then stir through berries. Transfer to a 1.25 litre baking dish. Set aside.

Step 2  Whisk eggs, milk, whisky, lemon zest and vanilla in a bowl until combined. Set aside. Place fl our, baking powder and remaining sugar in a bowl. Pour egg mixture into dry ingredients, whisking well to form a smooth batter. Pour over fruit, then bake for 30-35 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Step 3  Dust with icing sugar and serve warm with cinnamon cream.

Source:  Author: Valli Little, Image credit: Brett Stevens, Publication: delicious.

Five great charts on investing

Oliver's Insights

At its core, the basic principles of successful investing are simple.  And one way to demonstrate that is in charts or pictures – after all, a picture tells a thousand words. So this note looks at five charts I find useful in understanding investing.

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Market Update – July 2017

View from the hill

The financial year ended 30 June 2017 was very good to well-diversified, growth-orientated investors. Equities enjoyed well above average returns, whereas property and fixed income were far more subdued (particularly A-REITs whose annual returns were mostly driven by the results for the single month of June).

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Fifty Trades on Grey

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Demographics played a major role in the era of higher growth, volatile inflation and rising asset prices in the 1980s and 1990s and will be heavily influential again over the next 20 years as baby boomers leave the workforce.

Click here to read the article.

Blueberry and Lemon Swirl Bars

Blueberry and lemon swirl barsBlueberry and lemon is a winning combination in this lush fruity swirl dessert. It’s also a great healthy snack option with a cup of tea at the weekend.


  • 290g (2 cups) cashew nuts
  • 185ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk, plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) melted coconut oil
  • 120g (3/4 cup) frozen blueberries, thawed in a bowl


  • 80g (1/2 cup) cashew nuts, lightly toasted
  • 80g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds, lightly toasted
  • 45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut, lightly toasted
  • 150g fresh dates, pitted, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • Pinch sea salt


Step 1  Place cashews in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Soak for 4 hours. Rinse under cold running water and drain.

Step 2  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C/160C fan forced. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm (base measurement) square cake pan. Line with baking paper, allowing the sides to overhang.

Step 3  For the base, process cashews, sunflower seeds and coconut in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Add dates, oil and salt. Process until well combined. Press into base of prepared pan. Use a straight-sided glass to smooth the surface. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until firm.

Step 4  Use a high-speed blender to blend soaked cashews, milk, juice, maple syrup, vanilla, rind and 100ml oil until very smooth. Transfer two-thirds (about 550g) of the cashew mixture to a bowl and stir in extra coconut milk. Add berries and any juice from the bowl, and remaining oil to the blender with remaining cashew mixture and blend, scraping down sides occasionally, until very smooth. Spoon half the mixtures, in random spoonfuls, into the prepared pan. Use a butter knife to create a swirled effect. Repeat with remaining mixtures, using the knife to create a swirled effect. Place in the freezer for 6 hours or until set.

Step 5  Stand pan at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly. Cut into 18 pieces. Store in a lined airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Source:  Author: Katrina Woodman, Image credit: Jeremy Simons, Publication: Taste Magazine