The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s small business survey published today shows small business continued to face difficult trading conditions in March.
Key indicators such as sales, profits, employment and investment all remained deep in negative territory in the opening months of 2014.
The survey found the small business sector is mildly optimistic that general business conditions will improve in the quarter ahead, but given the persistence of poor trading conditions it will remain difficult for business to back this confidence about the future with new capital expenditure and hiring.
Business taxes and government charges were again ranked as the number one constraint on small business investment in the March quarter, a position it has held unbroken for more than three years.
Other constraints on small business investment revealed that access to both equity and debt finance, current levels of debt and financing costs have become more important in the March quarter.
ACTU calls for $27 boost to minimum wage
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is pushing for an increase to the minimum wage of $27 per week to compensate workers for the hike in fuel excise and cuts to welfare payments contained in the federal budget, reports Fairfax.
The ACTU said in a submission to the Fair Work Commission the cuts outlined in the budget “will have a large effect on the disposable incomes of many low-paid workers”, which should be taken into account in the commission’s forthcoming ruling on the minimum wage.
However, the federal government said in its submission retail, hospitality and administrative services industries have limited capacity to pay higher wages because their productivity growth has been weaker.
Shares down on open
Aussie shares have opened lower this morning, with continuing declines in the iron ore price affecting the large mining firms.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 44.9 points to 5434.1 at 12.07pm AEST. On Friday, the Dow Jones closed 44.5 points higher, up 0.27% to 16491.3 points.