Construction sector declines in January; News Corp shares surge on profit increase: Midday Roundup

The national construction sector has had a weak start to the year, according to the latest Australian Performance of Construction Index (APCI).

The APCI was down 2.6 points to 48.2 in January, with the total number of new orders and deliveries declining to 47.7 and 49.0 respectively. Meanwhile, the construction activity sub-index remained positive, however, the rate of expansion was unchanged at 50.8 from the previous month.

Australian Industry Group’s director of public policy, Peter Burn, said in a statement January’s drop in the Australian PCIcasted a shadow of doubt over recent signs of recovery in the sector.

“Its performance in the next few months will be critical in determining whether there is a consolidation of the gains of late last year or a resumption of the weakness that has characterised the residential and commercial construction slump in the past couple of years,” he says.

News Corp shares surge on profit increase

News Corp has posted a 9% profit increase for the second quarter of 2014, causing its shares to jump 8.14% in early trade.

The news giant recorded an earnings increase before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $327 million, up from $300 million in the previous corresponding period.

The profit gain comes despite revenue falling 4% for the quarter from $2.32 billion to $2.24 billion.

In a statement to the ASX, News Corp said this revenue fall reflected lower advertising revenues, foreign exchange fluctuations and the sale of Dow Jones Local Media Group (partially offset by the inclusion of Fox Sports Australia).

“The earnings report demonstrates a measure of progress as we navigate a challenging advertising market. We are continuing to be disciplined on costs, while making opportunistic investments that will extend our revenue reach,” chief executive Robert Thomson said.

Shares up on open

Aussie shares have opened higher this morning, as overnight Wall Street shares lifted more than 1%.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 25.2 points to 5156.6 at 11:59am AEDT. Last night the Dow Jones closed 188.30 points higher, up 1.22% to 15,628.53.

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