Building approvals drop in October: Midday roundup

The number of building approvals dropped by a higher than expected amount in October, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The ABS data shows the number of buildings approved fell by a seasonally adjusted 7.6% to 12,540 during the month, compared to an upwardly-revised 13,575 units in September.

The median forecast was for a 1.8% decline, although building approvals are now up by 14.5% from the same time last year.

Lew calls for action on GST

Retail veteran Solomon Lew has called on the Government to act over the GST-free import threshold, saying jobs are on the line.

Lew, the speaking at the general meeting for his retail group Premier Investments, said that the Government has “run out of time”.

“In every other comparable country, governments have recognised the need to deal with this issue as a serious matter of public policy and have already acted – while our government plays ‘process’ games.”

Chief executive Mark McInnes said the $1,000 threshold was “an appalling piece of government policy”.

Lew added that the Government should not “pander to perceived populism at the expense of sound public policy”.

The comments come after the Government announced yesterday it wouldn’t take immediate action on the GST-free threshold.

Shares flat after weak US lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened lower this morning, as investors started the day with a weak lead from the United States and in anticipation of a decision from the Reserve Bank on interest rates.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 11 points or 0.2% to 4,520.1 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 60 points or 0.5% to 12,966.5.

Account deficit widens in third quarter

The Australian account deficit widened by more than expected during the September quarter, according to the ABS.

The account deficit was $14.9 billion, although economists had expected a deficit of $14.7 billion.

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