Retail sales fall 1.1% in October, Shares move higher: Economy Roundup

Retail sales fell by a seasonally adjusted 1.1% in October, according to the latest results from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The result is lower-than-expected, with analysts and economists predicting a 0.5% rise in October.

The largest falls were recorded among restaurants and cafes, which recorded a 4.8% decline, while clothing, footwear and personal accessory use also fell by 4.6%. Other retailing dropped by 2%, and department store sales also fell 1.1%.

Food retailing sales increased by 0.6% as household goods retailing grew by 0.5%.

Meanwhile, the balance on goods and services has risen in October, according to the latest results from the ABS, with the surplus growing $811 million to $2.62 billion.

The figure comes after a Reuters poll indicated expectations for the surplus ranged between $800 million to $2.5 billion. The median forecast was for a surplus of $2 billion.

Nufarm has agreed to pay a $66,000 fine to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in relation to its disclosure practices, but the company says any payment is not an admission of its liability.

“Those undertakings will deliver enhancements to Nufarm’s financial reporting and will also encompass a review of Nufarm’s policies and procedures relating to continuous disclosure,” chairman Donald McGauchie said.

“Those enhancements and that review will be undertaken pursuant to recommendations to be provided by Deloitte and are to be implemented over the next nine months.”

The statement also came as Nufarm said it expects to turn a profit in the first half of the 2011 financial year despite a “profoundly disappointing” experience over the past two years.

As reported by The Australian, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is currently forming a plan to provide the domestic shipping industry with tax breaks.

It is understood the plan was put forward yesterday by infrastructure and transport minister Anthony Albanese, who said the country is in danger of losing the industry altogether. Tax incentives are being proposed, while the Government is also said to be cracking down on foreign ships operating on the coast.

Shares higher after strong Wall Street lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning, following a solid night on Wall Street where investors were given a boost in optimism due to solid payroll data.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 77 points or 1.69% to 4664.1 at 12.10 AEST, while the Australian dollar also managed to gain some ground to US98.6c.

ANZ shares rose 2.6% to $23.23, while Commonwealth Bank shares also rose 1.4% to $49.21. Westpac shares gained 2% to $21.87 as AMP rose 0.2% to $5.10.

As reported by The Australian, Shaw Stockbroking founder and major shareholder Harold Shapiro has left the company after 18 years due to a falling out with some of the directors.

In a statement, Shapiro said his departure was due to “irreconcilable differences” in regards to “a number of matters”. He also said the board did not “consult with shareholders on indicative offers to acquire Shaw”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has slammed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying that the release of thousands of diplomatic cables is “irresponsible”.

“It’s a grossly irresponsible thing to do, and an illegal thing to do,” she said this afternoon, also addressing comments made by Assange’s mother. “You can always understand a mother’s love and anxiety about her son and I do understand that, but the wrong thing’s been done here.”

Mining giant Rio Tinto has approved a new $US1.2 billion expansion, with production to be increased at the Brockman 4 and Western Turner Syncline mines in Pilbara.

“These decisions highlight our strategy of bringing on new capacity in line with infrastructure developments, using 100 per cent Rio Tinto-owned brown field developments to dovetail with existing infrastructure where possible,” chief executive for iron ore and Australia Sam Walsh said in a statement.

“It also highlights the wealth of large, long-life, well situated and wholly owned deposits we can bring forward in conjunction with our expansions of port and rail capacity.”

Payroll data on the rise in US

Investors in the US were given a boost in confidence overnight after new data from ADP Employer Services showed private sector payrolls by their largest amount in three years.

The data has lifted optimism about the job market ahead of an employment report to be released this Friday.

The data found that private employers added a larger-than-expected 93,000 jobs in November, representing the largest increase since November 2007. This follows from a gain of 82,000 in October.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 249.76 points, or 2.27%, to 11,255.78.

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