Business confidence rising; Virgin airlines signals $49 million first-half loss: Midday Roundup

Business confidence is on the up, reaching a two-and-a-half-year high in the December quarter, as conditions start to improve.

According to the latest NAB quarterly business survey, conditions have also lifted to their highest level in 12 months, although still remain below trend.

Business conditions rose across all industries in the quarter, with services, personal and recreation services and finance, property and business services the standout industries.

The industries with the weakest results were wholesale, followed by construction and mining.

“The post-election ‘honeymoon’ continued well into the December quarter, helping to prop up confidence, although a better  housing sector (predominately driven by investors), higher asset prices and a lower AUD and interest rates are all contributing,” NAB said in a statement.

Virgin airlines signals $49 million first-half loss

Virgin Australia Holdings has responded to a price query from the ASX saying it’s not aware of any information it hasn’t relayed to the market, but signalled a possible $49 million first-half loss.

Virgin did not give any earnings guidance for the first six months of the financial year, but said in a statement today it anticipates a $49 million before tax loss, in line with median analysts’ predictions.

The announcement comes as it was revealed Virgin Atlantic intends to cut its Sydney to Hong Kong service.

“We have received feedback that this has caused some confusion in the market with people mistakenly assuming that Virgin Atlantic is the same entity as VAH [Virgin Australia Holdings],” Virgin says.

Woolworths lifts first-half sales

Retail giant Woolworths has bumped up its first-half sales for financial year 2013-14 for continuing operations, with the figure at $31.84 billion in the 27 weeks to January 5, up 6% on the same period last year.

It reported that its second-quarter lifted 5.9% to $16.2 billion.

The group’s supermarket operations recorded $27.81 billion in sales from continuing operations for the six-month period, up 6.2% the previous year.

Woolworths’ petrol sales increased 8% to $3.67 billion, compared to the same time last year.

Woolworths chief executive officer Grant O’Brien attributed much of the growth to a strong Christmas sales period across food and liquor.

Shares open up

Aussie shares have opened higher this morning, defying analyst predictions of a flat start.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 35.4 points to 5105.7 at 12:10pm AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed steady, down 5.01 points to 15,440.23.


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