Construction work drops in June quarter: Midday roundup

The level of construction work conducted in the June quarter fell by 0.2% to $48.834 billion, seasonally adjusted.

However, activity is up 14.6% from the previous corresponding period.

Total building work in the quarter was $18.519 billion, while engineering work was $30.315 billion.

Government introduces $4 billion dental scheme

The Federal Government will spend $4 billion on a dental package to provide more than three million children and adults on low incomes or in rural areas access to subsidised dental care.

Under the scheme, around 3.4 million children will have access to Medicare-funded dental treatment at the dentist of their choice.

The public dental scheme will get a $1.3 billion funding injection over four years and $225 million will be spent on dental services in rural and regional Australia.

Shares flat on weak US leads

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat this morning following a weak offshore lead as investors await word from US Fed Reserve chief Ben Bernanke on whether it will do any more to boost the American economy.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 7.8 points or 0.2% to 4351.6 at 12.05 AEST, while the Australian dollar was at $US1.03.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 21 points or 0.2%.

BHP cutting jobs after Olympic Dam blow

BHP Billiton has confirmed it will cut up to 140 jobs at the Olympic Dam project, following the announcement that the miner will put a $US20 billion expansion of the copper and uranium project on hold.

The company said staff would be considered for redeployment in South Australia and within other BHP Billiton Customer Sector Groups nationwide.

Currently, there are 4000 staff at the Olympic Dam copper and uranium project.

Transfield CEO steps down

Peter Goode, the head of construction and maintenance firm Transfield Services, is stepping down.

“Over the past three-and-a-half years, Peter has designed and directed a strategy that has seen Transfield Services expand into key growth sectors,” chairman Tony Shepherd said in a statement.

Transfield made an operating net profit of $106 million in the year to June 30, just ahead of the $105 million result it forecast to the market in April.

However, the operating profit was down 17% on the previous year, due to costs associated with restructuring initiatives that the company expects will begin delivering financial improvements in the 2012/13 financial year.


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