Housing finance disappointing in October: Midday roundup

Demand for home loans grew by a lower than expected rate during October, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show demand grew by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% to 46,477. Total housing finance by value grew by 1.8%, seasonally adjusted, to $21.564 billion.

Shares in Austereo drop following prank call debacle

Shares in Southern Cross Austereo have fallen after a massive public outcry over the prank call incident last week that resulted in the reported suicide of a nurse at a British hospital.

Shares fell as much as 8.1% today, and were down 4.5% at $1.05 at noon.

Following the incident, Telstra and Coles pulled out their advertising, with other large businesses discussion a similar move.

The incident occurred when 2Day FM DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian called the British Hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated for acute sickness related to her pregnancy. Nurse Jacintha Saldanha gave away several details of her recovery.

Saldanha was found dead several hours later.

The incident comes a year after the company suffered a similar backlash following offensive comments made by DJ Kyle Sandilands towards a female journalist.

Shares up after strong US jobs data

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following strong data in the United States, which showed the unemployment rate fell to 7.7%.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 17 points or 0.4% to 4569.7 at 12.00 AEST, while last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 81 points or 0.6% to 13,155.

Labor won’t return to surplus: Abbott

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has said the Government won’t be able to return the budget to surplus due to spending on asylum seekers.

“Currently, the government is spending more money flying illegal boat arrivals around the country than it is subsidising the Royal Flying Doctor Service,” Abbott says.

The recent political landscape has been dominated by debate over the surplus, with a growing number of people in the business community calling on the government to abandon its self-imposed pledge.

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