Small business sales have remained relatively soft in the three months to April rising only 1.6% for the quarter, according to a new report.
The ANZ Small Business Sales Trends report released this morning found spending on food, cafes and restaurants, and utilities and postal services remained robust, but retailers and education and childcare sales remained weak.
The rise of 1.6% is significantly below the increase of 6.7% this time last year, but this is likely to have been influenced by the timing of Easter this year with Good Friday falling in March.
ANZ general manager of small business banking Nick Reade said in a statement small business sales in the mining states were also starting to soften and “come back to the pack” as the “multi-speed economy” has diminished.
Overall, ANZ said small business trading conditions remained challenging with sales activity subdued.
James Hardie profits slip 92%
James Hardie continues to be plagued by compensation payments to asbestos victims as this morning the firm announced a 92% net profit fall to $US45.5 million from $US604.3 million last year.
As well as the compensation payments, the business’s profit was hit by asset writedowns and tax adjustments.
Despite the losses, the company was positive about the United States housing market, where it generates most of its profits, and forecasted a sustainable recovery.
Melbourne accounting firm joins Bentleys
Melbourne accounting firm Mclean Delmo, which has operated for 43 years, has joined national accountancy group Bentley’s network of independent firms.
The move expands Bentley’s network to eight firms and more than 400 staff with an annual revenue of $75 million.
The firm is to be known as McLean Delmo Bentleys for three years during the transition.
Shares fall on Ford manufacturing news
The Australian share market has fallen over 1% this morning, after automotive manufacturing giant Ford said it would cease making cars in Australia after 2016. The news is a blow to the local manufacturing sector, with 1200 jobs to be scrapped.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was down 68 points or 1.3% to 5096.5 at 12.00 AEST, with the Australian dollar also opening below US97c for the first time in a year.
In the US, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 80.4 points or 0.5% to 15,307.2.