Growth set to improve in second half: Midday roundup

The pace of economic growth will continue to grow during the second half of the year and into 2013, according to the latest result from the Westpac-Melbourne Institute Leading Index.

The index, which measures the likely pace of economic activity three to nine months into the future, reached 1.6% in May. The figure is higher than the 0.2% recorded in April, although still under the long-term trend of 2.6%.

Westpac chief economist Bill Evans said the result is the fastest rate since September 2011.

“While the growth rate remains well below long term trend it is the fastest since September last year and is indicating that, while moderate, growth in the second half of 2012 and into 2013 will adopt an improving tempo,” he said.

“Westpac expects that growth in the second half of 2012 will be around an annualised pace of 3% whereas growth in 2013 should lift to an around trend 3.5%.”

Australian dollar reaches six-week high

The Australian dollar has reached a six-week high following statements made by the US Federal Reserve.

The dollar traded at $US1.03 early this morning, and was trading there at 12.00 AEST.

While Fed chairman Ben Bernanke ruled out the possibility of more quantitative easing, further comments made during a Q&A session left the option open, giving hope to investors.

Shares flat after Fed Reserve comments

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat this morning, following a weak lead from the United States after the same comments from the Federal Reserve.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 12 points or 0.3% to 4,128.1 at 12.00 AEST.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 78 points or 0.6% to 12,805.5.

Qantas launches new online booking website

Qantas has launched a new accommodation booking website Hooroo in order to capture the number of users sharing information about their holiday plans through social networks.

The new brand will launch based on research that shows a majority of Facebook users talk about their holidays.

“The current online travel agent market consists of undifferentiated, purely functional competitors. The Hooroo team wants travellers to discover a better way to uncover and book their next adventure,” Hooroo executive manager Simon Chamberlain said in a statement.

The operation will exist as a separate company, as part of the Qantas group.

“This approach ensures that Hooroo stays agile and industry-leading across all aspects of its offering,” Chamberlain said.




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