Retail sales fell during April, despite economists’ predictions of a 0.2% rise, according to the latest figures available from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The figures show the trend estimate for retail sales in April grew by 0.3%, but the seasonally adjusted measure fell by 0.2% to $21.2 billion.
This follows a rise of 1.1% in March and 0.2% in February.
The food retailing industry rose by 0.4%, while cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services also rose by 1%, followed by other retailing up 0.5%, and clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing up 0.3%. Department stores also rose 0.3%.
Household goods retailing fell 0.4%.
The Australian Capital Territory recorded the highest rise at 0.8% , while Victoria remained flat.
Construction work increases during March quarter
Construction work increased during the March quarter, according to the latest figures from the ABS.
The figures show total construction work in the quarter rose 5.5% to $48 billion, on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Construction work is now up 15% on the previous corresponding period.
Craig Thomson declares independence
Craig Thomson has now declared his independence, voting with the Coalition for the first time since he was elected as a Labor candidate in 2007.
Thomson was stood down from the Labor caucus in April by Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He is still battling accusations made against him by Fair Work that he misused members’ funds while he was secretary of the Health Services Union.
“I’ve always said that when I became an independent I would look at all issues on their merits, but support the government on supply and confidence motions,” Thomson told AAP.
“I am looking out for what’s best for the people of the (NSW) central coast.”
However, opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey said the Coalition was not prepared to accept Thomson’s vote.
Markets sink despite lifted global sentiment
The Australian stock market sank on opening, despite gains on both Wall Street and European exchanges overnight.
At the official market open, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index fell 0.92% to 4,076.4 points and the broader All Ordinaries Index declined 0.85% to 4,132.5 points.
The low opening came despite traders giving US equities a solid bid overnight, following strong gains out of Asia and Europe.
Sentiment lifted across the globe following the announcement that the Chinese government was set to accelerate stimulus measures such as foreign investment approvals and extending tax reforms.