Shares remain flat after Gillard announced as PM: Economy Roundup
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 18 points or 0.42% to 4504.3 at 12.00 AEST, while the Australian dollar has opened higher to US87c.
ANZ shares have climbed by 0.7% to $23.05, while AMP shares have gained 1.6% to $5.57. Westpac lost 0.3% to $22.49 as NAB gained 0.5% to $24.80.
New figures from Westpac and the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry reveal demand and investment remain high, with industrial activity also expanding.
"The index continues to imply an acceleration in annual private sector final demand growth in mid-2010 to an above-trend pace of around five per cent a year," Anthony Thompson, a senior economist at Westpac said in a statement.
Manufacturers' twelve month investment plans improved to above average levels, he said, while net balance for plant and equipment plans doubled to 18 points, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2007.
Macquarie Group shares have fallen more than 3.5% to $41.17, the lowest level since last July, due to an announcement in which it said volatile market conditions are impacting some businesses.
While the company did not specific which areas are hurting, analysts point out that its M&A advisory and equity underwriting services have suffered due to weak IPO activity.
IMF deputy criticises mining attack on RSPT
As reported by Fairfax, a senior International Monetary Fund official has challenged claims from the mining industry regarding the competitiveness of the Federal Government's RSPT.
The publication claims that deputy head of the fund's tax policy division, Philip Daniel, said it is misleading to look at the headline tax rate caused by the 40% levy.
Additionally, when speaking at the Institute of Chartered Accountants conference in Sydney, Daniel also said the headline rate of the tax was not exceptional, and competitive concerns do not take into account the Government's claim to compensate miners for certain losses through a credit.
Also in the mining industry, Riversdale Mining has agreed to sell a 40% stake in its Zambeze coal project in Mozambique to Wuhan Iron and Steel Corp for $US800 million.
"Through our Chinese venture partners, we gain funding to develop the mine and a buyer for part of Zambeze's off-take," Riversdale chairman Michael O'Keeffe said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the senate has passed revised renewable energy laws in a move designed to unlock billions in clean energy investment. The laws specify a 20% renewable energy target by 2020, and split the renewable energy scheme into large projects and a household market.
"This is quite an historic step," climate change minister Penny Wong said on radio yesterday.
"It is actually quadrupling Australia's renewable energy use, so that by 2020, the equivalent of all our household electricity use will come from wind and solar and wave and whatever other renewables can come to the market."
Oil spill fix fails
Overseas, oil giant BP has suffered further criticism after a plan designed to curb the flow of oil in the gulf coast failed, causing even more oil to spill. It comes just days after it agreed to set up a $US20 billion fund to compensate the victims of the spill, particularly in the states of Florida, New Orleans and Alabama.
On Wall Street, stocks have remained flat due to disappointing data on housing starts, along with disappointing remarks from the Federal Reserve regarding the struggling economy. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained just 4.92 points or 0.05% to 10,298.44.