New dwelling approvals fall in January, but trend remains positive: Midday roundup

New dwelling approvals have fallen for the second month in a row, despite overall numbers having improved dramatically since January last year.

In January, 12,920 new dwellings were approved, up 9.9% on the same time last year, but down 2.4% from December, according to seasonally adjusted figures.

The statistics today released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics also found the seasonally adjusted estimate for private sector houses rose 3.2% in January, after falling for three months.

Company profits drop

Company profits have fallen by 7.6% between December 2011 and December 2012, according to new research by the ABS.

The seasonally adjusted figures released today indicated in the December quarter company gross operating profits fell 1%.

Despite profits decreasing, wages and salaries increased 4.8% last year and 1.4% for the December quarter, placing further pressure on businesses.

Consumer inflation stable in February

Inflation was flat in February after a 0.3% rise in January and an increase of 0.4% in December, according to the latest gauge of consumer prices by TD Securities released this morning.

For the 12 months to February, consumer prices were up 2.4%.
The overall change in February was influenced by price rises for fruit and vegetables, automotive fuel and tobacco and offset by seasonal falls in holiday travel and accommodation, clothing and footwear.

The price of fruit and vegetables rose by 4.7% in February and the price of automotive fuel rose by the same amount.

Australian shares fall on opening

Australian shares have opened lower this morning, despite Wall Street reaching a five-year high on Friday.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 26.7 points just after midday to 5059.4. The materials sector was down 214.3 points to 10,371.7.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 0.25% higher on Friday at 14,089.66.

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