Construction jobs disappear as building industry faces tough times: Midday roundup

Total construction work in Australia fell 0.1% in December, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this morning, defying economists’ expectations.

It had been previously predicted construction jobs would rise by 1.5% for the quarter, but the results suggest the construction industries woes are not yet over.

The latest Australian Securities and Investment Commission statistics indicated the construction industry had the highest number of insolvencies in 2012, making up over a fifth of the total 10,632 companies.

Wotif profits fall

Profits for Australian online travel company Wotif.com have declined by 4.6% in the six months to December. The company made $27.5 million profit after tax.

Wotif.com said in a statement the fall in profits was “primarily attributable to increased costs from strategic investment in online marketing, web maintenance and headcount”.

The company sold $532 million of accommodation (excluding GST) in the six-month period, a total of 3.5 million room nights, which was 4% down on the corresponding period, but up 3% on the second half of 2012.

Mixed results for Westfield

Shopping centre operator Westfield has confirmed a mixed result for the past year, with the company saying retail conditions are still subdued.

In a statement, co-chief executive Steven Lowy said Australian retail conditions were still low, with a similar expected in the next 12 months.

“The December quarter was softer in Australia, but it seemed to bounce back in January,” Lowy said.

The company recorded a net profit of $1.72 billion for the 2012 financial year, up 18.3% from the previous corresponding period.

Aussie shares piggy-back strong US showing

Australian shares have opened higher on the back of a strong day of trading in the United States.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 25.9 points to 5029.5 just after midday and all major industries were performing well.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 115.96 points higher last night at 13900.13, up 0.84%.

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