Minimum wage rises by 2.6%: Midday Roundup

The Fair Work Commission has decided to increase the federal minimum wage by 2.6%, to $622.20.

The FWC said in its announcement this morning the increase is lower than normal, partly due to the rise in employee costs as part of the superannuation guarantee increase to begin in July.

The rise equates to an extra $15.80 a week, although unions were asking for $30, and business groups for just $5.

The FWC has yet to release a statement on the rise, although the announcement was live-streamed over the internet.

Retail spending up in April

Australian retail sales rose 0.2% in April, with the largest increases coming from the food and clothing, footwear and accessories sectors, according to new data.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released this morning show turnover for the clothing, footwear and personal accessory category increased by 1.8% in April, while food retailing rose 0.5%.

The other retailing category also posted a minor increase of 0.1%, offsetting a 2% decline from department store turnover and a 0.6% fall from household goods retailing.

The overall increase in the seasonally adjusted figures goes someway to reversing a a 0.4% decrease in March.

Of the states, New South Wales was the largest contributor to the rise, with a jump of 0.6%, while the biggest loss came from the Northern Territory where spending decreased by 1.6%.

Cochlear shares fall following revised profits announcement

Shares in the hearing implant company Cochlear have plummeted this morning, after an announcement sales in the second half of the year had been “weaker” than expected.

Cochlear stocks were down 12.57% just before midday, having lost $8.09 from their value.

Cochlear announced its net profit for the full year was expected to be between $130 to $135 million, a significant increase from the 2011/2012 financial year, but well under its original 2012/2013 profit guidance of $180 million.

Shares flat on weak offshore leads

The Australian share market has opened slightly lower this morning, following a weak lead from offshore markets late last week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 8.6 points or 0.2% to 4,918 at 12.05 AEST, while late last week the Dow Jones Industrial Average in the United States fell 209 points or 1.4% to 15,115.6.

Manufacturing contraction slows during May

The latest results from the Australian Industry Group performance of manufacturing index show the industry’s rate of contraction has begun to slow.

The survey found the index rose 7.1 points to 43.8. While the survey is still in negative territory, the industry has improved.

“The welcome drop in the Australian dollar in recent weeks will provide breathing space for many exporters and will help lift confidence,” AIG chief executive Innes Willox said in a statement.

“However, the dollar remains well above its post-float average and there will need to be sustained falls if we are to see a real impact on import-competing manufacturers and exporters.”

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