David Jones board overhaul; NAB business conditions up: Midday roundup

David Jones has announced it will overhaul its board of directors, with chairman Peter Mason and director Leigh Clapham set to step down from their roles in coming months. Director Steve Vamos will also resign from the board, effective immediately.

David Jones reported that Jane Harvey would take the role of deputy chair of the board, with a process underway to appoint three new directors.

The moves follow shareholder and media uproar after Clapham and Vamos were linked to controversial trades which occurred a day after a merger proposal by Myer and ahead of higher than anticipated sales figures. The trades were investigated by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, with no evidence of insider trading found.

NAB business conditions up

Business conditions approached three-year highs, with business confidence up for the first time in four months in January, according to the NAB monthly business survey for the first month of 2014.

It found that the employment index was better but still suggests soft labour market conditions. Sales and profits dipped slightly, but were still healthy.

The survey found a sharp turnaround in manufacturing despite the current challenging environment. If found inflation pressures remained subdued, but are building on the back of rising costs inflation.

Shares open up

Aussie shares have opened higher this morning, following a mixed day on Wall Street ahead of Federal Reserve head of Janet Yellen’s first speech to congress.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 15.4 points to 5237.5 at 11:55am AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 7.71 points higher, lifting 0.05% to 15,801.79.

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