Construction sector declines for 39th month, Carr condemns Coalition foreign aid cuts: Midday Roundup

The construction sector remains in contraction for its 39th consecutive month, according to figures released this morning.

The Australian Industry Group/Housing Industry Association Performance of Construction Index dropped 0.4 points to 43.7 in August, with readings below 50 indicating contraction.

The house building sector was 0.3 points weaker in August, but remains close to growth levels at 49 on the index.

Commercial construction was the only sub-sector to improve, up 4.5 points to 39.1.

“Although the construction industry remains in a fragile state, there are early signs of a very gradual improvement in overall conditions,” Ai Group director of public policy Peter Burn said in a statement.

Carr condemns Coalition foreign aid cuts

The Coalition’s plan to cut foreign aid spending by $4.5 billion over four years has been criticised by Foreign Minister Bob Carr as diminishing Australia’s security.

The $4.5 billion will be redirected to three road projects in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, should the Coalition be elected.

Carr said providing overseas aid is in Australia’s best interests, as he addressed a leaders’ summit in Russia on Wednesday.

“We use foreign aid as a way of making Australia more secure as a nation.”

Shares fall on open

Aussie shares have opened lower this morning, as voters prepare to head to the polls on Saturday.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was down 21.4 points to 5121.1 at 11:30am.

All major industries were down, with the material sector dropping 78.9 points to 9583.1.

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