Construction work improves in September quarter: Midday roundup

Construction work improved during the September quarter, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show work improved by 1.7% to $51.298 billion, on a seasonally adjusted basis. The amount of work done is now up 6% from the same time last year.

Total building work completed in the September quarter was $19.257 billion, which represents a fall of 1.7%.

The median forecast was for work to have increased by 2%.

JB Hi-Fi shares fall on whitegoods announcement

Shares in JB Hi-Fi have fallen over 6% this morning after the company announced it would move into the whitegoods sector.

In a statement, the company said that its new “HOME” stores would feature whitegoods and cooking appliances alongside the company’s current entertainment offerings.

Shares were down 6% to $10.02 this morning after the announcement. Chief executive Terry Smart said the company had the opportunity and power to make a move in the whitegoods space.

“We believe, however, that the strength of the JB Hi-Fi brand can be further leveraged to enable us to capture some of the circa $4 billion home appliances market,” he said.

“We have existing supplier relationships, buyers, merchandising capability and, most importantly, passionate and skilled appliance sales staff, all gained through the eight years of operating the Clive Anthony’s stores.”

Given the troubled nature of the whitegoods market, Smart said the company would conduct a trial in Queensland before any rollout.

Online sales still on the rise

Online spending has almost doubled over the year, and makes up 5.6% of total retail sales, according to the latest NAB Online Retail Sales Index.

The index showed online sales were up 26% compared to the same time last year. Economist Alan Oster said the rise was mostly due to domestic sales, which were up 28% compared to the same period in 2011.

Shares flat after more fiscal cliff worries

The Australian sharemarket has opened lower this morning following a weak offshore lead due to more worries over the debt debates in both Europe and the United States.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 20 points or 0.5% to 4436.2, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 89 points or 0.7% to 12,878.1.



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