Coles sales rise 7.3%, Building approvals dip: Midday roundup

Retail giant Wesfarmers has posted a 7.3% jump in sales for its Coles supermarket division, describing the performance as a solid one given price deflation in the sector.

Managing director Richard Goyder also told reporters that its Bunnings hardware chain was seeing little effect from the entrance in to the sector by fellow retail giant Woolworths.

“What we’re seeing with most of our stores which trade close to the Masters stores is that they’re sales are higher on a day-to-day basis than the same time last year,” he said.

Sales at its discount department store chain Kmart dropped 1.3% to $2.281 billion, and Target sales also fell 2.5% to $2.097 billion.

Investors liked the news by late morning, pushing up Wesfarmers shares 1% to $30.03.

Building approvals drop 24.5% in year to December

Building approvals in December missed expectations, dipping 1% to 11,443 in the final month of 2011.

Economists had tipped a 2% rise.

The December result means that building approvals were down 24.5% in the year to December.

Local shares rise above 1%

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning after positive leads from overseas markets.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 47.5 points or 1.1% to 4273.2 at 12.00 AEST, while the Australian dollar rose above $US1.07c, although settled back down to $US1.05c.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 83 points or 0.7% to 12,171.6.

Trade surplus beats expectations in December

Meanwhile, Australia’s trade surplus lifted in December to $1.71 billion, official figures show.

This compares with a downwardly revised surplus of $1.34 billion in November.

The figure was better than analysts had expected.

IMF requests Greece slash wages

The International Monetary Fund has requested Greece a deal be struck whereby wages are cut in order for the company to pay down its debt.

IMF officials have visited the nation for new talks on a bailout package, but inspector Poul Thomson has told the Athens daily newspaper Kathimerini that cuts to the minimum wage should be considered.

“It’s a matter of days,” Thomsen was quoted as saying. “The discussions for the (new) program will be concluded very soon.”


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