Business conditions improve slightly, but confidence down in April

Business conditions improved only marginally in April, as the latest NAB monthly business survey indicates conditions remain difficult.

While business conditions improved by one point on the survey, business confidence dropped four points after weaker than expected growth in China and the euro-zone and falling commodity prices.

The survey found there was less negativity in retail and manufacturing, but activity was still poor with no sign of upward momentum.

Modest improvements in trading conditions were largely offset by worsening employment conditions, with most job losses felt in manufacturing, wholesale and the recreation and personal services sectors.

Housing finance commitments on the rise

The number of people buying new dwellings in March reached 3080, up 21.1% from February, according to new figures

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released today also indicated the percentage of first home buyer finance commitments compared to owner occupied housing commitments fell 14.2% in March 2013, in original terms.

While there was a fall in first home buyer finance commitments, the seasonally adjusted total value of dwelling finance commitments (excluding alterations) increased 4.5%.

Australian dollar goes below parity

The Australian dollar has hit parity this morning, briefly sliding below the United States dollar to 99.83 US cents.

Just after midday the currencies were equal, with some analysts predicting the currency’s strong run may have come to an end alongside the mining boom, cementing fears the economy is slowing.

Shares flat on weak offshore leads

The Australian sharemarket has remained flat this morning, as the Australian dollar has continued to remain around the parity level.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 1.3 points to 5,204.8, while in the United States last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 35.9 points or 0.2% to 15,118.5.

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