The services sector slipped into negative territory last month, according to the latest Australian Industry Group figures.
The Ai Group Performance of Services Index dropped 6.2 points to 48.9 in March, down from 55.1 in February. There were falls across sales, stocks and employment, however new orders for personal and recreational services expanded for the first time since July last year.
Ai Group chief executive Innes Wilcox said in a statement concerns over the economy impacted the demand for services during the month of March.
“The latest Australian PSI, and the mixed results for employment and new orders, is a further reminder of the risk that excessive spending cuts in the upcoming budget could slow down domestic activity rather than encourage the private sector investment and employment creation that the economy requires,” he said.
Retail trade increases in February
Australian retail trade turnover has increased by 0.2% in February, seasonally adjusted, following a 1.2% rise in January.
According to the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, household goods recorded the biggest gain, with turnover increasing 2%, closely followed by the other retailing category where spend leapt 1.9%.
These rises were partially offset by falls in the department stores sub-sector, which recorded a decline of 4.7% and food retailing, which fell 0.2%.
On a state-by-state basis, Victoria recorded the largest gain in retail trade, increasing 0.5%, followed by Western Australia on 0.4%.
These increases were partially lessened by a 1.4% fall in Tasmania and a 0.6% decline in the Northern Territory.
Shares steady on open
Aussie shares have opened with a modest gain this morning, following a positive lead from international markets.
The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 5.9 points to 5409.2 at 11:32am AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones closed 40.49 points higher, up 0.24% to 16,573.00.