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The Economy

Agri

More dairy mergers coming, says Murray Goulburn boss

JARED LYNCH 1:55pm The boss of Australia's biggest dairy company is forecasting more consolidation in the sector, saying there "isn't enough money to be made" for all players.

Eco

Value of construction activity contracts in quarter

The ABS said the value of completed construction in Australia is down  1.5 per cent over the year.

Mark Mulligan 12:41pm The estimated value of completed construction in Australia contracted in the June quarter, in the latest sign of the slow pace of economic re-balancing away from mining infrastructure in Australia.

Results

Boral beats forecasts as company 'turns corner', says boss Mike Kane

Boral

SALLY ROSE 4:25pm Building materials supplier Boral has said that market conditions are improving across all of its divisions in Australia, the Untied States and Asia - with the exception of Australian investment in roads, highways, subdivisions and bridges. The company provided the updated outlook as it beat full-year profit forecasts on Wednesday.

Economy

Consumer confidence shows encouraging signs

The ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index has found encouraging signs for consumer spending.

Consumer confidence has edged back above its long-run average, with encouraging signs for consumer spending in coming months.

Super

How almost 300,000 SMSFs avoid paying income tax

Nassim Khadem Only a fraction of Australia’s ­half-a-million self-managed super­annuation funds pay any income tax, experts say, because of generous super concessions and franking credits that are undermining the federal budget.

Tax

ATO cracking down on cash economy

“We are taking a closer look at the cafe, restaurant, catering and takeaway industry because about 40,000 businesses in the industry [nationwide] lodge late,” ATO senior assistant commissioner Michael Hardy.

Nassim Khadem The Tax Office is cracking down on the black economy, targeting businesses that are not declaring cash revenues, from restaurants through to home cleaners, in a bid to bring billions of dollars back into the tax net.

Gambling

James Packer's Crown confirms 17-year Melbourne Casino extension

Crown Casino, Southbank, Melbourne.

MAX MASON James's Packer's Crown Resorts has confirmed a 17-year extension on its Melbourne casino licence following a battle with the Victoria government over a hike in poker machine taxes announced late last year.

Tech

NBN deals for Telstra rivals

NBN Co and Telstra have been criticised by industry leaders over the size of their $11 billion deal to help build the NBN.

David Ramli Telstra’s construction rivals, including companies such as Leighton Contractors, will win major contracts to build the national broadband network, says NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow.

Queensland economy 'better than you think': Deloitte

Premier Campbell Newman and Santos CEO David Knox on Curtis Island at the Santos GLNG project.

CAMERON ATFIELD Deloitte has a simple message when it comes to Queensland's economy – it's better than you think.

Comments 46

Agribusiness

Bunge Australia plans to build new bulk-grain export terminal in Geelong

Export vision: An artist’s impression of Bunge’s planned bulk-grain export terminal at Geelong Port.

DARREN GRAY A new bulk-grain export terminal would be built at Geelong - Victoria's fourth such terminal - under a proposal revealed on Wednesday by grain marketer Bunge Australia.

Growth

Stevens says companies lack 'animal spirit' to drive growth

RBA Governor Glenn Stevens warns businesses are more focussed on shareholder returns than on plans to boost growth.

Mark Mulligan Companies’ focus on returning cash to shareholders might be stifling much-needed investment in new production to rebalance the Australian economy away from mining, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Glenn Stevens has warned.

Tech

Tumblr to analyse selfies for #brands

Tumblr is thought to be the first site actively attempting to analyse pictures for content.

Luke Malpass From this week, every photo of you posted online, could be scanned for commercially useful clues about what you like to eat, drink, wear or listen to.

Economy

No recession ... yet, but we're not invulnerable

A matter of timing: RBA governor Glenn Stevens.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman Australia’s golden era of growth without recession is now stretching out more than two decades – but economists see weaknesses that could put an end to the unprecedented run.

Eco

RBA says 'uncertainty' is keeping interest rates low

RBA members

Michael Heath Australia's central bank said the nation's economic outlook remains uncertain because of the conflicting forces at play and reiterated that interest rates are set to remain on hold.

Tax

Peter Costello backs retailers' calls to lower online GST threshold

The $1000 GST threshold for online purchases has created an

Sue Mitchell Former federal treasurer Peter Costello has backed the campaign for a reduction in the $1000 GST-free threshold for overseas online retailers.

How far will the wealth effect stretch?

Perhaps Clive Palmer should take tea with the  House of Representatives economics committee.

MICHAEL PASCOE It can’t be easy fitting in a normal MP’s duties around all the lunch and dinner dates Clive Palmer is enjoying with federal ministers.

Eco

Australia's misery index at a six-year high

The RBA has lowered its growth and inflation forecasts for the year ahead, citing its expectation that mining investment will “decline much further” and budget cuts at the state and federal level

A deepening gloom across the largest developed economy to escape recession during the global financial crisis is shaping up as one of the toughest challenges yet for Reserve Bank of Australia chief Glenn Stevens.

Economy

Consumers looking more upbeat in August

The latest figures suggest much of the damage to consumer confidence from the May budget has been repaired, Westpac says.

Mark Mulligan Consumer confidence has picked up since May's unpopular Federal budget, though it remains below the highs seen after the Coalition swept to power last September.

Business lift at odds with consumer confidence

Standstill: Retail continues to lag.

Mark Mulligan Business confidence is back near the post-election highs of last September, according to one survey, while another says consumer sentiment remains weak.

Economy

As jobless numbers climb, RBA is perilously close to a rare mistake

Major central banks are showing a confidence in the global recovery that may prove 'overly optimistic'.

William Pesek Glenn Stevens is perilously close to making the kind of policy mistake that's been so rare at the RBA.

Economy

Australian house prices up 1.8pc in June quarter

20110528.  BRW.  Torquay. Generic Real Estate.  Property, for sale, sold, housing, growth, development, housing market, greater melbourne, home, residential, real estate, home buyer, rent, lease, land, interest rates, building.

Photograph by Arsineh Houspian.  +(61) 401 320 173.  arsineh@arsineh.com

Australian capital city house prices rose 1.8 per cent in the June quarter, official figures show.

Economy

Australian business conditions best in four years - survey

Business confidence is improving but Australian companies remain reluctant to add more staff.

A measure of Australian business conditions hit the highest in four years in July as firms reported a sharp pick up in sales and profitability, though many remained reluctant to hire new workers.

Eco

Penalty rates need to change, says Abbott government minister

“We cannot go on in a society where we are charging people on a day which is a normal operating day, double what you would on any other,”: Assistant Infrastructure Minister Jamie Briggs

Nassim Khadem An Abbott government minister has said business should help the government make the case for lowering penalty rates paid to millions of workers on Sundays and public holidays.

Eco

Commercial finance lending jumps

160 sussex street, sydney, image supplied

Stephen Cauchi Commercial finance lending is up 12.1 per cent in June, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Monday morning.

Employment

'Unsustainable' labour costs crippling restaurant industry

“We’re saying outsource everything you possibly can,” RCA chief executive John Hart said.

Joanna Mather The restaurant industry is encouraging members to automate and outsource as much as possible to save money in the face of “unsustainable” labour costs.

Economy

Home loans rise 0.2 per cent in June

Economists had expected home loans to rise by 0.5 per cent.

The number of home loans approved in June rose 0.2 per cent, ABS figures show.

Econocrats advise false economy

Ross Gittins dinkus

ROSS GITTINS Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott shouldn’t take all the blame for the low quality of the measures in the budget. I suspect they’re victims of poor advice from the econocrats of Treasury and Finance.

Eco

RBA says rates will stay on hold, unemployment to stay high

Michael Heath The Reserve Bank of Australia cut its growth and inflation forecasts amid a steeper drop in mining investment and reiterated interest rates will remain on hold.

Tech

ATO reveals web-chat for business

Nassim Khadem The Tax Office is launching a web-chat service, called “click to chat”, so small ­business owners can talk to the regulator directly, in a bid to cut costs.

Central banks hold the line as geopolitical tensions increase

Malcolm Maiden - dink - dinkus - thumbnail

MALCOLM MAIDEN The Reserve Bank completed a trifecta of central banking economic assessments with its statement on monetary policy on Friday.

Rogue survey or no, employment market is soft

There's no doubting the employment market is soft, but the numbers might not be as bad as they seem.

MICHAEL PASCOE Employment data, like claims about migrant visas, requires a little perspective.

Rates

Job figures push forward bets on rate cuts

Some traders are betting the surprise jump in unemployment may prompt the Reserve Bank to cut rates sooner than expected.

VESNA POLJAK The highest Australian unemployment rate in 12 years has brought forward bets on an interest rate cut by the Reserve Bank as traders increasingly believe the economy will need a stimulus.

Economy

Automation a huge challenge for unemployment, says Chris Bowen

Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen.

James Eyers Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen has described the loss of jobs as a result of automation by technology as “one of the greatest unspoken challenges in the Australian economy”.

Economy

Unemployment jumps to more than 10-year high

The economy lost some 300 jobs last month, pushing up the unemployment rate.

MAX MASON Unemployment jumps to 6.4 per cent, its highest level in more than 10 years, after a surprise fall in jobs growth.

Money talk

Cash no longer king, cheques on death row: study

“Consumers are going to find that cash is not their first choice any more, even for convenience items like a coffee.

Shaun Drummond Cash will fall to just over 40 per cent of all payments by 2018, and cheques will disappear, a new study has found.

Services our forgotten export hero, despite Australian dollar

Services like education are the unsung heroes of Australia's export economy.

MICHAEL PASCOE It’s the performance of services that should provide optimism about Australia being able to transition from its reliance on resources.

RBA's softening up period stays on hold

The status of the handover from mining to the rest of the economy is key to the RBA's next move.

MALCOLM MAIDEN The RBA is on hold, and not hinting that might be close to moving.

Economy

RBA keeps rates on hold

RBA governor Glenn Stevens.

Mark Mulligan The Reserve Bank of Australia has again left the official interest cash rate at 2.5 per cent.

Retail

Ignorance about home brand goods costs shoppers, study finds

Shoppers avoid home brand products because they don't know any betters, a new study has found.

Luke Malpass Shoppers don't buy home brand goods because they don't know any better, a new study has found.

Economy

Import drop helps make up for soft mining as trade deficit narrows in June

Imports were down 1 per cent between May and June.

Mark Mulligan Australia’s seasonally-adjusted trade deficit narrowed by $320 million, to $1.7 billion in June

Results

Downer warns mining sector 'under intense pressure'

The downturn in the mining sector weighed on Downer's performance this past year.

Jenny Wiggins Heavy engineering outfit Downer EDI has posted a year to June net profit of $216 million, as the downturn in the mining sector weighed on its performance.

RBA: what to watch out for

Glenn Stevens

MAX MASON The Reserve Bank of Australia is expected to stand pat later today, but there will be plenty for Governor Glenn Stevens and the central bank board to consider.

Sovereign

Future Fund tops $100 billion

Former treasurer Peter Costello.

Mark Mulligan The value of Australia’s Future Fund has surpassed $100 billion for the first time since it was set up by then-Treasurer Peter Costello in 2006.

Sell the rumour, yawn the news

Markets are not known for being rational.

MICHAEL PASCOE The general adage has long been 'buy the rumour, sell the news', but no-one accuses traders of being rational.

Economy

Retail spending rises as shoppers shake off winter blues

Economists had been forecasting retail spending to rise 0.4 per cent in June.

Mark Mulligan Retail sales rose 0.6 per cent, seasonally-adjusted, in June, as consumers reversed two months of falls or flat sales linked to the warm start to winter and an unpopular May budget.

SPlit

Divorce settlement payouts set to shrink under new tax laws

Experts said the change in rules could reduce settlements by as much as 46.5 per cent,

Marianna Papadakis The cost of divorce for many wealthy couples will rise under a Tax Office ruling that imposes much bigger bills on property settlements.

Economy

Australian exporters eyeing Middle East's potential

Australian expertise in fields such as dairy farming is being sought overseas.

JARED LYNCH More Australian exporters are looking to the Middle East, rating it as the most promising market to grow their businesses ahead of China and the US.

Eco

China's PMI continues to rise

The 51.7 reading topped the 51.4 median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

Jessica Sier An official Chinese manufacturing gauge rose, bolstering the government’s chances of meeting its 2014 economic growth target of about 7.5 per cent and continuing a recent run of positive data out of the world’s second largest economy.

Investments

Top earners reap top capital gains, Treasury finds

housing

Nassim Khadem and Fleur Anderson People who earn more than $180,000 earn half of all capital gains and the tax breaks on capital profits are a key reason why so many investors borrow to buy property, a Treasury paper has found.

Real estate

Signs property prices could settle

Australia is the third-most overvalued housing market on a price-to-income basis, after Belgium and Canada, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman There are signs home ownership could get more affordable, as lower interest rates, increased construction activity and a growing population threaten to stablise property prices and rental income.

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