Economy

Manufacturing activity falls in April: Midday roundup

Patrick Stafford /

Manufacturing activity fell during April, according to the latest Australian Industry Group-PWC index, with the industry still under pressure from the higher dollar.

The figures show the index fell by a seasonally adjusted 5.6 points in April to 43.9, well under the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction.

“The decrease in manufacturing activity was largely due to significant contractions in the basic metals; textiles; wood products and furniture; clothing and footwear; and miscellaneous manufactures sub-sectors,” a report on the index said.

Survey respondents cited softer demand and the strong dollar as just some of the pressures facing the industry.

“While it is a reading of only one month, the steep fall in manufacturing activity in April rings true and is of serious concern,” Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement.

“Manufacturers continue to be adversely affected by the strong dollar, comparatively high unit labour costs and rising energy prices.”

“Production, employment and new orders all fell sharply in April, pointing again to the importance of lower interest rates both in reducing borrowing costs and in easing pressures on the currency,” he said.

Qantas prepare to cut hundreds of Melbourne jobs

Qantas has confirmed 400 jobs will be cut from the airline’s maintenance bases, according to an AAP report.

“The significant reduction of maintenance required on our aircraft means we do not need three separate maintenance bases,” a spokesperson told the news agency.

“We are continuing to assess various options and expect to make a decision by mid-May.”

Palmer confirms bid for parliament

Clive Palmer has reaffirmed his move to run for Federal Parliament, telling the ABC he has already lodged an expression of interest form.

“What I did say, it wasn’t a ruse, I said I had issued an expression of interest for standing for the seat of Lilley and that was true, that is what I said and the press have certainly run with it in a certain manner but that’s not me, that’s the press,” he told ABC Radio.

Sharemarket inches up

The Australian sharemarket opened with little change today following weak leads from the US and Europe.

At the official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index inched up 0.17% to 4,404.5 points and the broader All Ordinaries Index edged up 0.15% to 4,474.2 points.

Spain falls back into recession

Spain has fallen back into recession, an official estimate confirms, even as the government pressed ahead with unpopular spending cuts to rein in burgeoning debt.

Spain’s economy shrank by 0.3% in the first quarter of 2012, equalling the slump posted in the final quarter of 2011, according to preliminary data issued by the National Statistics Institute.

The return to recession, blamed on weak domestic demand only partially compensated by exports, comes barely two years after Spain emerged from the last downturn at the start of 2010.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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