THE NEWS WRAP: Wayne Swan admits “economy is losing momentum”

Treasurer Wayne Swan has admitted the Australian economy appears to be losing momentum following the release of March quarter national accounts showing GDP growth slowed to 0.6% for the quarter, with businesses and households cutting spending.


“We’ve come through the worst economic conditions in over 80 years with an economy that is 14% larger than it was at the end of 2007 and with an unemployment rate with a five in front of it. That is an incredible achievement,” Swan said.


“My overwhelming concern is that the economy is losing momentum; if not for the improvement in net exports the economy would be struggling quite significantly.”


Simplot enters talks to save Devonport food factory


Simplot Australia managing director Terry O’Brien has entered into talks with the Tasmanian government to help keep its Devonport vegetable processing plant viable, with Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings not ruling out financial assistance.


“If we’re going to continue in vegetables in Australia we’ve got to have a business that’s sustainable in its own right. The only thing we’d consider, or we think would make some sense from government, is assistance with things relating to energy savings or water savings that could give us some real returns,” O’Brien said.


“We do not want to see Simplot close its doors, we want to see that company operating successfully here in Tasmania for the long term,” Giddings said.


Another blow to Geelong as Target looks to cut 200 jobs


Speculation is mounting that Wesfarmers-owned retail chain Target is looking to slash up to 200 back office jobs in Geelong as part of a bid to cut costs.


The shake-up comes after Wesfarmers chief executive Richard Goyder warned of weaker second-half earnings before interest and tax at the variety store chain would fall somewhere between an $8 million loss and $12 million profit.


“There have already been a number of team changes as part of this review and more changes are likely. However, we will work these through with the Target team and they will be kept informed of any changes that may arise,” a Target spokesperson said.




The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.4% to 14960.6. The Aussie dollar fell to a 20-month low of US95.11 cents.


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