May retail sales jump higher than expected: Midday roundup

Retail sales rose 0.5% in April, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, beating economists’ expectations of a 0.2% increase.

Retail trade rose to a seasonally adjusted $21.3 billion.

Sales increased 0.7% in New South Wales, by 0.5% in Victoria and by 1.1% in Western Australia.

Retailers have suggested the Federal Government’s carbon assistance packages will filter through to sales. 

Sex discrimination claim against former David Jones head Mark McInnes

Mark McInnes, the former David Jones head who resigned after a sexual harassment scandal in 2010, has been hit by a sex discrimination lawsuit in his new role at Solomon Lew’s Just Group.

The claim was lodged by a senior marketing manager who claims her job was downgraded while she was on maternity leave.

Helen Allegos filed a claim this week alleging that McInnes left her out when he recruited new management late last year.

Contraction of Australia’s services sector slows

Australia’s services sector continued to contract in June but at a much slower pace than in previous months, a sign the struggling industry may have turned a corner.

The Australian Industry Group/Commonwealth Bank Australian Performance of Services Index (PSI), released on Wednesday, rose by 5.3 points to 48.8 in June.

A reading of below 50 indicates a contraction.

The index showed five of the industry’s nine sub-sectors, including personal and recreation services, health and community services and transport and storage, expanded in the month.

However, the sub-sectors most closely linked to household spending, including retail trade, wholesale trade, accommodation, and cafes and restaurants contracted.

$17 billion in lost super

More than $17 billion in super holdings still has not been claimed, but the amount of lost superannuation has dropped over the past financial year, as people recovered owed funds.

The total amount of lost super fell 13.8% to $17.4 billion in 2011, from $20.2 billion in 2010, according to the government.

“The number of lost member accounts fell from 5 million to 3.6 million – a reduction of 28%,” said Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Bill Shorten.
”Some of these accounts are inactive and owners could consider consolidating them to make the most of their retirement savings and avoid paying unwanted fees.”

Shares higher amid optimism in US and Europe

The local sharemarket opened higher this morning, buoyed by rises in the US and Europe based on hopes the European Central Bank and Bank of England will introduce new stimulus measures this week.

Strong June sales figures in the US auto industry have also boosted optimism.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 34.1 points or 0.83% at 11.20 AEST, while the Australian dollar has continued to rise after hitting a two-month high, at $US1.02.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 72.4 points or 0.56% to 12,943.8.



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