Balance of goods and services drop in April, Fairfax announces $311 million in savings, dollar hits 20-month low: Midday roundup

The balance of goods and services in April decreased by 95%, compared to March this year, according to new statistics released this morning.

Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the balance of goods and services was a surplus of $28 million in April, a decrease of $527 million since March.

Australian exports fell by $302 million to $25.4 billion, a drop of 1%, while the value of imports rose by 1% to $25.39 billion.

Fairfax announces $311 million in savings

Fairfax Media announced this morning an extra $60 million in savings, on top of the already planned $251 million, as part of its restructuring of its print and digital publications.

Fairfax revealed the plans in its strategy update which began this morning, as the news outlet is set to save $311 by mid-2015.

As part of its restructuring, Fairfax has been cutting jobs and changing its management hierarchy.

Fairfax chief executive Greg Hywood announced at the day-long strategy briefing its flagship publications including The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald were down 11% on projections, as were its regional papers and New Zealand division, but its radio business was up 10% and real estate website Domain was up 16%.

Dollar hits 20-month low

The Australian dollar has hit a 20-month low this morning.
The dollar fell below US95 cents after the market opened, trading at just 94.83 after 10am. This is the lowest point the dollar has hit since October 2011.

BBY institutional dealer Anson Rosewall told Fairfax the weakness in the market has driven down shares.

“The weakness in the Australian dollar is scaring offshore investors who hold a lot of these high-yield stocks – Telstra, the banks, the REITs – and that’s where a lot of selling has been concentrated towards, and that’s where it’s likely to be concentrated towards today,” he said.

Shares weak on poor offshore leads

The Australian sharemarket has opened weaker this morning, led from soft offshore markets and a weaker Australian dollar.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 26 points or 0.6% to 4,808.5 at 12.05 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 217 points or 1.4% to 14,960.6.

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