Flight Centre shares rise 6% on profit upgrade: Midday roundup

Shares in travel agency Flight Centre have risen 6.69% this morning after it upgraded its full-year profit guidance.

The company said it now expects profit before tax for the year to June 30 to be between $285 million and $290 million, up to 18% higher than last year’s results.

Previously, the company had forecast profit of between $265 million and $275 million.

“(Flight Centre) did not experience the sales slowdown that retailers in some discretionary sectors experienced during 2011/12, but it is fair to say that economic uncertainty in some markets has created a more cautious leisure travel customer,” managing director Graham Turner said in a statement.

“It is no longer correct to think of (Flight Centre) as purely an Australian-based retail travel agency,” he added.

The company has also flagged plans to hire 1,000 consultants.

Trade deficit expands during May

The Australian trade deficit widened in May, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the trade deficit for May was a seasonally adjusted $285 million, up by $259 million from the previous month.

Exports rose 2% or $570 million, while imports rose by 3%, or $829 million.

Aussie sharemarket flat following US 4th of July holiday

The local sharemarket was mostly unchanged when it opened this morning, lacking a lead from Wall St which was closed overnight for Independence Day.

Trading was similarly quiet on European markets overnight.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 0.10 points or 00.0024% at 11.50 AEST, while the dollar was marginally down after hitting two-month high yesterday, at $US1.0264.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was closed for the 4th of July, having gained 72.4 points or 0.56% to 12,943.8 on Tuesday.

Leighton Holdings fires manager over Iraq scandal

Leighton Holdings has dismissed a senior manager after a review of its Iraq projects was undertaken by Leighton Offshore, a subsidiary.

The Australian Federal Police is also investigation allegations Leighton Offshore made improper payments while part of an oil project in Iraq.

“Leighton’s values are integral to Leighton’s approach to business. No deviation from those values will be tolerated and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken if necessary,” chief executive Hamish Tyrwhitt said in a statement.


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