THE NEWS WRAP: Virgin admits it’s flying towards a $49 million loss

Virgin Australia has confirmed analyst fears it is heading towards a first-half loss, with the airline confirming it is set to report a $49 million pre-tax loss for the half.

 

The confirmation came after the airline was sent a “please explain” note from the stock exchange, after its share price suddenly dropped on Wednesday.

 

The figure excludes large losses at low-cost carrier Tigerair Australia, in which Virgin owns a 60% stake.

 

Surprise trade surplus for December

 

Australia exported $468 million more in goods and services than it imported during the month of December, according to new figures from the Bureau of Statistics.

 

The figures also revised Australia’s trade figures upwards, showing Australia ran a surplus of $83 million, rather than a $118 million deficit.

 

AMP Capital Investors chief economist Shane Oliver told the ABC most analysts were caught off guard by the better-than-expected trade figures.

 

“At one stage, you’ve got to bear in mind, a year or so ago, the trade deficit was running at around $3.1 billion a month, so we’ve seen a massive turnaround in the trade situation in Australia,” Oliver said.

 

Retailers feasted on pre-Christmas sales

 

Retail sales in Australia increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.5% during December, on top of a 0.7% increase in November, according to new Bureau of Statistics figures.

 

The biggest beneficiary were Coles and Woolies, with food retailers surging 2.5% and liquor sales up 3%, while restaurant and fast food sales grew by 0.5%.

 

However, the good cheer was not shared across the retail sector, with electrical goods down 1.7%, clothing dropping 2.7%, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics sliding 2.9%, newspapers and books falling 3.1% and other retail plummeting 4.9%.

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up to 5147.4. The Aussie dollar is up to US89.69 cents.

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