The construction industry has contracted for the 27th consecutive month, according to the latest figures from the Australian Industry Group-Housing Industry Association performance of construction index.
The index fell to 32.2 points in the month of August, well below the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction.
Engineering construction was the strongest sector, but it was still at 35.7 points. The weakest was apartment building at 22.1 – down 10.8 points from the previous month.
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Australian Industry Group director of public policy Peter Burn said the result was a black mark on the economy.
“In August, a weakening in the engineering construction sector contributed to a further worsening in the sector as a whole,” he said.
“Even though interest rates have fallen recently, the near-term outlook for the construction sector deteriorated with a further fall in new orders.”
Trade deficit widens more than expected
Australia’s trade deficit has widened by more than expected, according to the latest official figures.
The statistics show the trade deficit widened by 145% in July to a seasonally adjusted $556 million.
Economists had predicted the figure to be at $300 million.
Exports fell by 3%, while imports also dropped 1%.
Shares higher on strong offshore leads
The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following a strong overseas lead, where investors have welcomed an announcement from the European Central Bank that it would embark on a new bond-buying program.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 20.2 points or 0.5% to 4,333.1, while the Australian dollar remained steady at $US1.02.
In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 244 points or 1.9% to 13,292.
High Court rules against Optus appeal
Optus has expressed its disappointment with the High Court’s decision to quash its appeal over the TV Now network.
In a statement, vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs David Epstein said online storage of content will need to be addressed by the courts.
“We can’t shut ourselves off from the world,” Epstein said
“People are increasingly wanting to watch TV when they want, where they want and on what they want. But the law as it stands imposes an arbitrary distinction between technologies.”
“We don’t want to find ourselves facing a 21st century equivalent of being forced to store things on 8-track cartridges and audio cassettes rather than more convenient technology like online storage.”