ANZ announces $2 billion in small business lending; Manufacturing index dips; Stocks fall on Crimea concerns: Midday Roundup

ANZ announced today it would make available a further $2 billion in lending to small businesses over the next 12 months to support Australian enterprise and economic growth.

ANZ general manager small business Kate Gibson said: “Small business is the life-blood of the Australian economy.

“We want those thinking of starting a new venture or expanding their existing business to know that we’re committed to backing them.”

Last year ANZ lent $1 billion to the small business sector and Gibson says by doubling its lending pledge the bank wants to “send a strong message to small business owners”.

Manufacturing index shows fall

Activity in Australia’s manufacturing sector continued to contract in February, but improved compared to January according to the Australian Industry Group’s performance of manufacturing index.

The manufacturing index was 48.6 in February, an improvement of 1.9 points from the previous month.

A read below 50 indicates contraction, while a figure above 50 indicates expansion.

This is the fourth consecutive month of contraction, according to the survey.

Stocks fall

The Australian sharemarket continued to fall in mid-morning trade as fresh concerns over tension between Ukraine and Russia continued.

At 11.00am the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 0.93%, to 5354.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index declined 0.86% to 5368.8 points.

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