Trade deficit widens in December: Midday roundup

Australia has recorded its largest trade deficit in four years, according to the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the trade deficit grew 8% to a seasonally adjusted $2.637 billion in December, following an upwardly revised result of $2.443 billion in September.

The deficit had been expected to widen to just $2.3 billion.

The figures also show exports rose 1%, while imports rose 2%.

Construction activity lifts in December

Activity in the construction industry increased in December, although the sector still contracted, according to the latest figures from the Australian Industry Group-Housing Industry Association survey.

The survey showed activity improved from 37 points to 38.8, although that still remains under the 50-point level separating expansion from contraction.

Australian Industry Group director of public policy Peter Burn said in a statement Australian construction activity was “deeply entrenched in negative territory”.

“Not surprisingly, given the toughness of business conditions, the industry is continuing to reduce employment.”

Shares higher despite weak US lead

The Australian sharemarket has opened higher this morning, despite a soft lead from the United States.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 7.8 points or 0.2% to 4,725.1 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 50.9 points or 0.4% to 13,384.3.

Record profit for Samsung

Korean electronics giant Samsung has posted a record profit of $7.9 billion for the December quarter, the company announced today.

The announcement is yet another reason many analysts believe the company is catching up to Apple.

Samsung announced $7.9 billion in operating profit as part of its preliminary announcement, which did not break down into after-tax figures.

The company has had a tumultuous year, having been caught up in legal battles with Apple over various patent disputes.



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