Leighton shares fall 8% after reducing profit guidance: Midday roundup

Leighton Holdings has reduced its full-year profit guidance after a decline in the company’s Airport Link and Victorian desalination projects.

The company’s shares have fallen 6.12% to $21.82 this morning after the announcement.

In a statement, the company said it now expects to post underlying net profit after tax for the full year of between $400-450 million.

“The deterioration is anticipated to be $148 million before tax for Airport Link and $106 million before tax for the Victorian desalination project,” the company said in a statement.

“This is a reduction in forecast profit of $254 million before tax which will be reflected in the current financial year to 31 December 2012.”

Job vacancies increase in February quarter

The number of Australian job vacancies increased during the three months to February, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows the total number of job vacancies grew a seasonally adjusted 0.7% to 182,200.

The number of private sector vacancies was 165,300 in November, up 1%, while there were 16,900 vacancies in November, down 2.3% from three months prior.

Shares flat after weak offshore leads

The Australian sharemarket has opened weaker this morning after poor performances in oil and metal markets, along with weak leads from offshore markets.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 3.5 points or 0.1% to 4347 at 11.45 AEST, while the Australian dollar weakened this morning to $US1.03c.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 71 points or 0.5% to 13,126.2.

Swan to cut government programs to achieve surplus

Treasurer Wayne Swan has said he will make cuts to Government programs in order to achieve the promised surplus, although says the reductions won’t be “slash and burn”.

“I’m not talking here about slash and burn,” he said in an address to the Australian Business Economists in Sydney.

“The reality is that we need to cut and cancel existing programs if we are to meet our targets and we’ll need to redirect some spending to where it is needed most.”

Swan also said the Government won’t commit to a lot of new spending in order to achieve the surplus goal.

The mid-year budget provided a forecast for a $1.5 billion surplus.



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