Consumer confidence rises in January: Midday roundup

Consumer confidence increased in January, according to the Westpac and Melbourne Institute index.

The index rose 0.6% to 100.6 in the month, indicating consumers are becoming more optimistic about the economy.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said in a statement the result is the continuation of positive results – although he did say positive economic developments have yet to make an impact.

“It remains disappointing that despite a total of 175 basis points of rate cuts from the Reserve Bank since October 2011 the Index is only 3.5% above its level at that time,” he said.

“The Reserve Bank Board did not meet in January so there has been no fresh news on the interest rate front since December.”

“However, other factors which would normally have been expected to impact confidence have had little effect.”

Evans said the strength of the dollar, along with good news on the sharemarket, should have usually provided a boost to confidence.

Boral to slash 700 jobs

Building products maker Boral will cut 700 jobs as part of a company restructure, which will affect all levels of the business.

Chief executive Mike Kane said in a statement this morning employees would be let go from across the company.

“The restructure I am announcing today will transform the group into an organisation that is more responsive to the realities of a cyclical marketplace and one that remains competitive not just during the cycle highs but when conditions are challenging, as they have been for the past few years,” chief executive Mike Kane said in a statement this morning.

Boral shares rose 8.7% after the news was announced to $4.74.

New car sales rise in December

The number of new cars sold rose during December, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show 98,264 cars were sold in Australia, a seasonally adjusted increase of 2.2%. Total sales have now risen by a seasonally adjusted 17.9%.

Shares higher after modest Wall Street lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following a modest lead from the United States.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 19.4 points or 0.4%, while in the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 27 points or 0.2% to 13,534.9.



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