Market follows US higher: Economy roundup

A healthy US lead and positive metals prices have helped boost Australian sharemarkets this morning.

At 12.25pm the S&P/ASX200 is up 0.9% on yesterday’s close to 5649.8, while the benchmark US Dow Jones Index closed up 0.38% to 12,247 points overnight.

The mildly positive performance in the US overnight came despite the release of data showing the pace of productivity growth there fell dramatically in the final quarter of 2007.

According to US Labor Department figures, productivity increased by 1.8% in the December 2007 quarter, down from 6% in the previous quarter. At the same time, labour costs increased by 2.1%, after having fallen in the previous two quarters.

And if there is a silver lining to all the recent market volatility, perhaps it is that it has prompted more people to have a soothing glass of vino. Exports by Australia’s wine and brandy producers increased 19.6% in December 2007 to a value of $245.1 million, contributing to annual export growth for 2007 of 7.6%.

Domestic wine and brandy sales also increased in December thanks to people imbibing 0.9% more white wine and 2.8% more red wine.


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