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Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

THE market odds have moved firmly against an interest rate rise by the Reserve Bank in February.

The sharp change in direction, which began on Tuesday after the central bank revealed its December 1 meeting minutes, accelerated yesterday following a speech by RBA deputy governor Ric Battellino.

Mr Battellino signalled that rates could stay on hold when the RBA next meets in February, saying the “overall stance” of monetary policy was “back in the normal range”.

His comments, at the Australian Finance & Banking Conference in Sydney, surprised the markets, triggering a slump in the Australian dollar to below US90.

Last night the dollar was hovering around US89.70.

Financial market betting on a 25-basis point rate hike in February retreated from a 67 per cent chance to 45 per cent.

Mr Battellino said that although the cash rate still seemed “unusually low” at 3.75 per cent, monetary policy was back “in the normal range” because the current level of deposit, housing and business lending rates made the cash rate equivalent to a “before the crisis” level of 4.75 per cent.

“Taking these considerations into account, it would be reasonable to conclude that the overall stance of monetary policy is now back in the normal range, though in the expansionary segment of that range,” he said.

The deputy governor’s remarks were made half an hour after the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed economic growth in the September quarter was weaker than expected.

The national accounts showed GDP edged up just 0.2 per cent in the three months to September, half the pace of growth expected by the market, for an annual rate of 0.5 per cent.

The main drag on growth was a slump in exports which coincided with a jump in imports.

However, demand from households, businesses buying more equipment and government investment was solid.

ANZ acting chief economist Warren Hogan said the GDP figures indicated there was little urgency to get official interest rates back to a neutral setting, adding that Mr Battellino’s comments had “dealt a solid blow” to the prospect of substantial gains in the cash rate over coming months.

“Put another way, the emergency setting for interest rates has now been removed and policy will be adjusted as and when required by economic conditions,” he said.

Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly told reporters after the bank’s annual meeting in Melbourne yesterday that the RBA was likely to raise rates “very carefully” in 2010.

However, she said the official cash rate was not quite yet at a “normal” level.

Mrs Kelly said she remained cautious about the economic outlook while the bank’s chairman Ted Evans said a “V-shaped” recovery for Australia was unlikely.

“It will be a long recovery and that’s what our plans are based on,” he said. 

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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Industry leaders in Australia are urging the Australian federal government to overhaul its skilled immigration program to address a looming shortage of workers.

Recent changes by DIAC to the skilled migration visa processing times have meant that many hundreds of applicants for visas have been told that they may have to wait up to 3 years and this is slated to impact on several massive projects announced for Western Australia, including the Gorgon gas development, expansion of the Pluto LNG plant and the development of the Mid-West iron ore region including the massive Gindalbie iron ore mine which will need upwards of 1500 workers during the construction stage.

 The recent Australian Financial Review (afr.com.au) has stated that skills shortages are set to intensify in coming years.

The article calls for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to urgently look at reviewing Australian visa policies to ensure that these shortages can be filled. More immigrants will be needed to work in Australia in industries such as energy, mining  and IT which, according to the review, face a major skills shortage unless something drastic is done to alleviate it.

Major Australian firms such as infrastructure giant United Group have also released warnings to the government that they will be facing skills shortages within 12 to 18 months.

The firm’s CEO Richard Leupen declared that the shortage has been brought about as a result of the tightening of the business visa rules. He says this has coincided with the company’s reduction in training programmes for staff in response to the recession.

In the IT industry, the need is even more acute. A study, commissioned by Microsoft Australia, has found the IT industry will generate $21 billion for GDP by the end of 2013 but any potential growth could be stifled by the shortage of skilled labour.

Bruce Mills, chief executive of IT consultancy firm 3W, says as more IT work becomes available, such as the National Broadband Network, companies will struggle to grow and obtain new projects if the number of skilled workers remains flat.

“What has occurred is that everything that was done to avoid the global financial crisis has sort of spilled over, and so by the time any of the results were felt any issue that caused the crisis is over, and that is what has happened with the tightening of 457 visas.”

Source  :  www.australiamagazine.co.uk

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Further increases in petrol prices are predicted as Australia’s unleaded benchmark price scaled a 10-month high of almost $100 a barrel in the past week.  

While the continued signs of a recovery in the global economy had been great news for share market investors, the same could not be said for motorists, Commonwealth Securities economist Savanth Sebastian said.

The Australian Institute of Petroleum’s weekly report showed the unleaded petrol prices rose by an average 1.9 cents per litre in the past week to 124.5 cents.

The average metropolitan price rose by 2.6 cents a litre to 124.2 cents, while the regional average price rose by 0.7 cents to 125.1 cents.

“The glut of oil inventory on global markets is not putting downward pressure on prices,” Mr Sebastian said, adding traders and investors were focussed on the recovery story.

Even a strong Australian dollar has not been able to significantly absorb the rally in oil prices.

This resulted in the benchmark for Australian unleaded petrol – the Singapore gasoline price – rising to a 10-month high of $99.70 from $97.33 in the past week.

“If there is any consolation for motorists, it is that the rise in pump prices is likely to be rather sedate,” Mr Sebastian said.

“The petrol price will rise over the next fortnight, but only modestly, up around three to five cents a litre.”

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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WA has led the charge with a rise in building approvals in June, fresh figures reveal today. 

There was a 21.1 per cent rise in building approvals in WA last month, compared to a national rise of 9.3 per cent.

But the recovery followed an 11 per cent decline in May, taking the latest tally of 11,086 new construction projects to a level lower than where it was in April.

Still, the latest monthly increase was stronger than a market forecast for an eight per cent rise.

Approvals in the volatile apartment-building sector surged 27.7 per cent while detached housing numbers increased by a much smaller 4.9 per cent.

On an annual basis, overall building approvals are down 14.3 per cent.

Apartment building approvals are also 45.7 per cent weaker compared with a year earlier.

Construction activity was also more robust in Victoria, where approvals rose by 17.4 per cent, followed by an 11.3 per cent increase in South Australia.

NSW had a more modest recovery of 3.4 per cent.

Building approvals went backwards in Tasmania, shrinking by 7.6 per cent, and Queensland, which suffered a 1.9 per cent decline.

Source  :  www.thewest.com.au

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A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

It follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

But Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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HOUSE prices could rise by as much as 22 per cent during the next three years, an economic forecaster says.   house price

”The conditions are ripe for a sustained recovery in residential property prices,” according to BIS Shrapnel’s Residential Property Prospects, 2009 to 2012, report.

”Low interest rates, solid growth in rents and housing shortages are evident in most markets.

”However, the current economic malaise will mean confidence will only recover slowly during 2009/10.”

BIS Shrapnel senior project manager and study author Angie Zigomanis said that, at this stage, all of the action was occurring at the lower-priced end of the market.

This is due to a surge in first-home buyer demand as a result of the federal government’s first home owner boost scheme and low interest rates, he said.

BIS Shrapnel forecasts there will be 180,000 first-home buyers in 2009.

Although first-home buyer demand was expected to ease after the expiry of the government’s boost scheme at the end of 2009, upgraders and investors were expected to take the baton, Mr Zigomanis said.

”We expect rising confidence in the prospects for an economic recovery in 2010, so investors are likely to return in greater numbers, attracted by increased rental returns and low interest rates.”

Among the state capitals, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide will show the strongest price growth over the next three years, at 19 per cent.

More moderate growth is expected in Brisbane, Hobart, and Canberra, while price growth in Perth and Darwin is expected to be weak as the local economies of these cities are impacted by a decline in investment spending in the resources sector.

BIS Shrapnel estimates Sydney’s median house price at June 2009 to be $530,000, and predicts it will rise by mid-2012 to $630,000. Melbourne’s current median house price is estimated at $425,000, rising to $507,000 by June 2012.

In Adelaide, the median price is estimated at $360,000 and predicted to climb to $430,000 over the three years.

Among other cities around Australia, Newcastle and Wollongong are expected to benefit from the migration of residents from Sydney over the coming years.

The median house price in Newcastle is expected to soar 22 per cent over the three years, while Wollongong is forecast to see growth of 20 per cent in the same period.

In Brisbane, the average house is estimated to cost $391,000 now and is expected to cost $455,000 by mid-2012, an increase of 16 per cent.

Hobart’s median house price is estimated to be $335,000 and will rise by 15 per cent to $385,000 over the three year period.

An average house in Canberra is estimated to cost $440,000, increasing to $515,000 by 2012, a rise of 17 per cent.

In Perth, the estimated median house price is $425,000, expected to reach $475,000 in three years, up 12 per cent.

Darwin’s forecast median house price is $470,000, predicted to show an increase of 11 per cent over the three years.

For the Gold Coast, the Sunshine Coast and Cairns, BIS Shrapnel forecasts prices will increase by 14 per cent, while Townsville prices are expected to grow 13 per cent over the three years.

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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wa small firmsSigns are emerging that the worst of the global financial crisis is over, according to a new survey, and the State’s small businesses are leading the way.
  
The Commonwealth Bank-Chamber of Commerce and Industry quarterly survey of business expectations, released yesterday, shows that economic conditions in WA appear to be stabilising after six months of decline.
  
CCI chief economist John Nicolaou said that the community could “take heart” from the results and that an economic recovery within the next 12 months was on the horizon.
  
“This survey is an important lead indicator of future economic activity,” he said.
  
“While just over half of all businesses remain pessimistic about the next 12 months, that’s come back from around 75 per cent of businesses that were pessimistic last quarter, and at the same time businesses that think conditions will improve (over the same time) has doubled.”
  
Mr Nicolaou said small businesses in service industries were the most optimistic, with 17 per cent of the firms surveyed believing conditions would improve over the next 12 months.
  
Beaumonde Catering owner Mark Dimmitt said he felt small business was better prepared for the slowdown than in other downturns because it had taken time to flow to Australia from the US.
  
He said that though his trade had been affected and was patchy, February was a record month for his 20-year-old business and he expected an upturn over the next year.
  
Woolworths regional manager Brad Bolin criticised “illogical barriers to doing business”, referring to trading hours in WA.
  
Mr Bolin said “conservative estimates” showed the group would need to employ another 300 staff in WA if trading hours were extended to 9pm.
  
“During this time of economic uncertainty there are still companies (looking) to hire more people — these efforts shouldn’t be undone by illogical barriers to doing business,” he said.
  
Coles and Kmart have said they expected to employ another 350 workers if 9pm trading was approved.

Source www.thewest.com.au

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