Building approvals fall in March: Midday roundup

Building approvals fell during March, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the number of buildings approved fell by a seasonally adjusted 5.5% to 12,599 during the month.

Expectations among economists were that the number of building approvals would increase.

Approvals are now up by 3.9% compared to the same point last year, the ABS statistics show.

Abbott pledges support for Medicare levy hike

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said the increased Medicare levy should be considered as a method for funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“We are prepared to consider supporting a modest increase in the Medicare levy to make sure this happens as soon as possible,” Abbott said, according to AAP.

“We do want to see this come into the parliament in this term, there’s five weeks of parliament remaining and I don’t see why we can’t get this dealt with, so this parliament does have a substantial monument.”

Shares fall on weak offshore leads

The Australian sharemarket has fallen this morning, following a weak lead from the United States where the Federal Reserve said it may rethink its approach to bolstering the economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index fell 42.3 points or 0.8% to 5,123.9 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138 points or 0.9% to 14,701.

Flight Centre lifts earnings guidance

Flight Centre announced this morning its earnings guidance for the full year had increased to $340 million due to a surging domestic tourism market.

The country’s largest travel agency said it expects underlying pre-tax profits of between $325 and $340 million for the year to June.

Managing director Graham Turner said the business was profitable in all 10 countries in which it operated.

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