Metcash to cut 500 jobs, close stores: Midday roundup

Metcash has announced it will slash almost 500 jobs, close 15 stores and take multiple impairment charges after completing a strategic review of the company.

The grocery wholesaler will close 15 Campbells Cash & Carry branches and expects that over 478 positions will be made redundant.

It has also announced plans to take impairment charges relating to a corporate restructure and changes to its Cornetts and Walters joint ventures in Queensland.

Investors responded badly to the news, sending shares in the company 3.48% lower to $4.15, against a benchmark index rise of 0.21%.


Retail sales rise in February


Retail sales increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.2% in February, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show sales increased by 0.2% to $20.987 billion.

Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clothing, footwear and personal accessories and “other” retailing all grew, along with department stores, up 0.4%.

Household goods retailing fell in trend terms.


Shares flat after strong offshore boost


The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning following a positive night on Wall Street.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 12.9 points or 0.3% to 4,342.2 at 12.00 AEST, while the Australian dollar was at $US1.04c.


Offshore stocks start second quarter on a positive footing


Wall Street started the second quarter on a positive footing, following the relatively upbeat economic data. The S&P 500 lifted to a four-year high as energy and material stocks were once again in favour. At the close, the Dow Jones was up by 52 points or 0.4% with the S&P 500 up by 0.8% and the Nasdaq rose 28 points or 0.9%.

European shares were also positive, recording a big daily gain, as investors focused on the upbeat manufacturing data from the US and China.

Eurozone banks were modestly weaker after media reports claimed that Germany’s Bundesbank had stopped accepting the bonds of Portugal and other peripheral economies – the report was later denied. The FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 1.5%, while the German Dax rose by 1.6% on Friday and the UK FTSE rose 1.9%.


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