Consumer sentiment falls 1.6% to lowest level in eight months: Midday Roundup

The Westpac-Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment recorded a 1.6% fall in consumer sentiment in April with sentiment down from 96.1 in March to 94.5 in April.

 

Bill Evans, chief economist at Westpac said the result came as a “mild surprise”.

“The Index is now at its lowest level since August last year when consumers were very concerned about the global outlook and warnings from the Reserve Bank and most commentators that higher interest rates were imminent,” said Evans.

“With conditions in the global economy improving and commentators interpreting the Reserve Bank Governor’s latest statement as hinting strongly that rates are likely to be cut next month it seems surprising that households would have a negative reaction in April.”

Apple market cap hits $US600 billion

Apple, already the world’s most valuable company, has hit the $US600 billion level for the first time.

Microsoft is the only other company that has been worth $600 billion previously – it reached that valuation for 13 trading days around the turn of the millennium, at the peak of the technology stock mania.

At its highest level, on December 30, 1999, Microsoft’s valuation was $619 billion. It’s now worth $260 billion.

Apple shares reached $644 in Tuesday trading, up 1.2% from Monday’s close.

Gunns wants to get rid of its bad name

The woodchip company Gunns has confirmed that it is considering a name change and moving its headquarters from Tasmania as it continues its bid to develop a controversial $2.5 billion pulp mill at Bell Bay.

“I can confirm that Gunns is exploring a number of things like name changes and headquarters relocations,” a Gunns spokesperson said.

“That’s part of [Gunns’] endeavour to properly position the company to get the pulp mill up, which is what they’re focused on at the moment.”

Nothing’s been finalised.”

The spokesperson said she believed that Enpax Australia was one of the names under consideration.

Sharemarket falls

The Australian sharemarket fell this morning after Wall Street closed lower for the fifth consecutive session overnight amid concerns over the upcoming US reporting season.

At the 10.15 AEST official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.65% to 4264.3 points and the broader All Ordinaries Index fell 0.66% to 4344.4 points.

Resources stocks also fell, with the major miners giving up ground.

BHP Billiton fell 1.28% to $33.81 while Rio Tinto dropped 1.49% to $63.88.

Housing industry calls for tax reform

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has called for reform of “excessive and inefficient” taxation which it claims is weighing down the residential building industry.

The report by the Centre for International Economics (CIE), commissioned by the HIA, found that new housing is the second most heavily taxed of Australia’s largest sectors, being those valued over $10 billion.

The report claims a majority of the taxes are inefficient, with stamp duty one of the biggest offenders.

“In some states the total tax bill amounts to over 40% of the final price of a new home,” said HIA Managing Director, Shane Goodwin.

“Taxes on new housing are a brake on economic activity, and represent a constraint on housing affordability and labour productivity.”

“Stamp duty is particularly inefficient, but it is not alone as an excessive and inefficient tax, which acts as a disincentive to one of the fundamental tenets of Australian life – the provision of shelter.”

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