Top Stories

  • Rates to remain stable in budget run-up AAP - 1 hour 22 minutes ago

    At least Australians won't have to contend with higher interest rates while swallowing the bitter pill of the federal government's budget. The latest official inflation numbers proved tamer than feared, keeping the consumer price index within the Reserve Bank's two to three per cent target band and suggesting interest rates will remain stable for a while yet. The data came as Prime Minister Tony Abbott was again warning of a big repair job when the government's first budget is handed down on May 13. "You have got to fix the budget if you are going to fix the economy," he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

  • Govt's audit to be released next week AAP - 1 hour 31 minutes ago
    Govt's audit to be released next week

    Treasurer Joe Hockey will next week release the long-awaited commission of audit that is helping him frame his first budget. But Mr Hockey told a Sydney audience on Wednesday he will not automatically accept all the recommendations. The commission finds government spending has almost tripled in the past 40 years. Mr Hockey said the age pension is the largest program "by a fair margin" and already takes up 10 per cent of all commonwealth spending.

  • China Mobile profit down 9.4 per cent AAP - 1 hour 36 minutes ago
    China Mobile profit down 9.4 per cent

    China Mobile, the world's biggest phone carrier by number of subscribers, says its latest quarterly profit declined 9.4 per cent despite a rise in customer numbers as spending per account declined. The ...

  • Major gains drive Australian share market to highest level since 2008 ABC - 1 hour 44 minutes ago

    The Australian share market has reached its highest level since the middle of 2008, with gains across most major sectors today. The All Ordinaries index has finished 35 points higher at 5,505, while the ...

  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles AAP - 2 hours 1 minute ago
    Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles

    Toyota has kept its position at the top in global vehicle sales for the first quarter of this year, outpacing rivals General Motors and Volkswagen. Toyota Motor said on Wednesday that it sold a record 2.583 million vehicles in the January-March period, putting the Japanese carmaker ahead of Detroit-based GM at 2.42 million and Volkswagen of Germany at 2.4 million. Toyota's first quarter sales rose by more than 6 per cent from the same period the previous year. GM's sales grew 2 per cent, while Volkswagen's added nearly 6 per cent.

  • Sales of US existing homes slip AAP - 2 hours 30 minutes ago
    Sales of US existing homes slip

    Sales of existing US homes slipped in March to their lowest level since July 2012 as rising prices and a tight supply of available homes discouraged many would-be buyers. The National Association of Realtors says sales edged down 0.2 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.59 million. Sales rose in the US Northeast and Midwest, suggesting that cold winter weather did not slow sales. Fewer homes for sale, higher mortgage rates and rising prices have contributed to lower sales since last summer.

  • $A falls on lower than expected inflation AAP - 2 hours 33 minutes ago

    The Australian dollar has fallen after lower than expected inflation figures reduced the likelihood of a rate hike in the near future. "When we got a downside surprise on the CPI, which goes against the recent trend of positive surprises for the economy and speculation that the RBA could hike rates, it drove the Aussie lower," Mr Been said. Meanwhile, the CPI figures saw Australian bond futures prices rally, Nomura head of macro products Jon Linton said.

  • Economists focus on CPI data AAP - 2 hours 34 minutes ago

    Economists focused on the March quarter inflation figures this week. The responses by economists to the consumer price index figures on Wednesday confirmed that. The figures showed inflation at 2.9 per cent, less than most economists had tipped. "Today's inflation report was weaker than both our and the RBA's expectations," Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Alex Joiner said in a report.

  • Shares hit another high AAP - 2 hours 44 minutes ago

    The share market has hit another high after a fifth consecutive day of gains, driven by low inflation. The market opened strongly and reached near six-year highs as solid earnings and major pharmaceutical-sector ...

  • Stocks to watch at close on Wednesday AAP - 2 hours 51 minutes ago

    Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange at the close on Wednesday: ALZ - AUSTRALAND - down five cents, or 1.2 per cent, at $4.23 SGP - STOCKLAND - down two cents, or 0.5 per cent, at $3.76 Australand ...

  • Aust bond prices rally on lower CPI print AAP - 2 hours 53 minutes ago

    Australian bond futures prices have rallied on the back of lower than expected inflation, which has reduced the likelihood of rate hikes in the near future. The consumer price index rose 0.6 per cent in the March quarter, for an annual rate of 2.9 per cent. Nomura head of macro products Jon Linton said the bond market followed moves in the US overnight and opened weaker, before receiving a boost from the inflation numbers. "We went into the CPI print with bond yields higher and most of the domestic market were expecting a much stronger print," Mr Linton said.

  • Palcohol powdered alcohol condemned by public health advocates as company seeks US approval ABC - 2 hours 55 minutes ago

    A company is seeking approval to sell powdered alcohol in the United States, sparking alarm from alcohol policy researchers. The company, Palcohol, says it wants to make its product, including powdered vodka and rum, accessible to consumers wherever they go. Powdered alcohol is or has been available in Germany, Holland and Japan and the technology behind it is over 40 years old. The plan to sell it in the US has alarmed public health advocates, who fear powdered alcohol could be abused or easily smuggled inside public venues.

  • Newcrest confirms new CEO AAP - 3 hours ago
    Newcrest confirms new CEO

    Newcrest Mining's outgoing head Greg Robinson has been described as having had to save the company last year as it announced he would leave in July. Mr Robinson will leave his $2 million a year salary running Australia's largest gold company on July 4, to be replaced by chief operating officer Sandeep Biswas. The departure of Mr Robinson, plus Newcrest's former chairman Don Mercer, were first flagged before the company's AGM in October. The chief executive leaves after barely three years in the job, after a horror 2013 when the gold price, and Newcrest's share price, plunged.

  • Inflation corralled by slack jobs market AAP - 3 hours ago

    The measures of underlying inflation, which strip out extra-large rises and falls in the components of the consumer price index, averaged out at 0.55 per cent for the quarter and 2.65 per cent for the year. That's a very benign set of figures for the Reserve Bank of Australia, which tries to keep inflation in the two to three per cent range on average over time. And an expansion of the profit share of national income can allow prices to race ahead of labour costs for a time. But for those one-off increases to develop into ongoing prices rises, year after year, they need to feed back into labour costs, which are the biggest cost facing businesses.

  • Property developers in takeover stoush AAP - 3 hours ago

    Property developer Stockland will wait to hear what investors have to say about the rejection of its $2.4 billion takeover proposal for Australand before considering further options. Australand's board has determined a share-swap takeover proposal presented by Stockland was not in the best interests of Australand securityholders. Australand also rejected a request from Stockland to open its books and enable Stockland to carry out due diligence on a potential merger. Stockland chief executive Mark Steinert has urged the Australand board to engage with his company, which holds a 19.9 per cent stake in Australand.

  • LinkedIn to anchor new Frisco high-rise AAP - 3 hours ago
    LinkedIn to anchor new Frisco high-rise

    San Francisco mayor Ed Lee says the professional networking site LinkedIn will expand its presence in the city by anchoring a high-rise office building under construction. Lee announced on Tuesday that LinkedIn has signed a lease to occupy the entire 26-storey structure scheduled to be completed in the city's South of Market neighbourhood by 2016. City officials say the nearly 450,000 square feet of office space could accommodate about 2,500 employees. Mountain View-based LinkedIn Corp currently occupies 135,000 square feet in a downtown San Francisco tower and plans to occupy another 87,000 square feet near downtown.

  • SA Government defends Woolworths-owned hardware store's expansion plan ABC - 3 hours ago

    The South Australian Government has rejected suggestions the opening of a mega hardware store in Adelaide's west will be a nail in the coffin for local furniture manufacturers. Masters Home Improvement is owned by retail giant Woolworths and has started construction on its second South Australian site near Adelaide Airport. The company hopes to open another 11 over six years, which Small Business Minister Tom Koutsantonis says could create more than 4000 jobs. Most of its stock will be imported and Mr Koutsantonis says it will be up to local manufacturers to compete.

  • Shares at highest point since mid-2008 AAP - 3 hours ago

    The Australian share market has hit another six year high as positive US corporate earnings reports boost global sentiment. At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 38.5 points, ...

  • Benign inflation good news for borrowers AAP - 3 hours ago
    Benign inflation good news for borrowers

    Lower than expected inflation will allow the Reserve Bank of Australia to keep the cash rate at a record low 2.5 per cent. The lower than expected figures, which followed surprisingly high inflation in the December quarter, would allow the RBA to keep the cash rate low, ANZ chief economist Ivan Colhoun said. The figures showed inflation was well and truly in check, said CommSec economist Savanth Sebastian. "At present inflation is not a threat to the economy, meaning that the Reserve Bank can comfortably keep interest rates at exceptionally low levels over the near term," he said.

  • McDonald's struggles worsen AAP - 3 hours ago

    McDonald's is fighting to hold onto customers in much of the world. After years of outperforming its rivals, McDonald's has been struggling to boost sales by positioning itself as a step up from traditional fast food in terms of quality, for a little extra money. Globally, McDonald's said earlier this year, sales have declined 0.3 per cent at locations open at least 13 months in February, and warned that its muted performance so far in 2014 could hurt first-quarter profit margins. McDonald's Corp executives acknowledge demands are changing when it comes to fast food.

  • JB Hi-Fi loses a key player in its success AAP - 4 hours ago
    JB Hi-Fi loses a key player in its success

    JB Hi-Fi boss Terry Smart, one of the key figures in the retailer's rapid expansion over the past 14 years, will leave the company in August. Mr Smart's career with the company includes four years as chief executive and ten years as operations chief, during which time JB Hi-Fi has carved out a large, bright yellow space for itself across Australia's shopping centres. And with a current holding of close to one million shares in the company, plus a further 750,000 share options, Mr Smart has been among the biggest beneficiaries of the company's success. Mr Smart will be replaced by long-serving chief financial officer Richard Murray, who plans to continue the company's expansion through new stores and the rollout of its home goods division.

  • Business confidence on the improve AAP - 5 hours ago

    Improvement in the local and global economy and a stable interest rate outlook appear to be fuelling a turnaround in business confidence. The Commonwealth Bank's head of local business banking Adam Bennett says a survey of small to medium sized enterprises, and the bank's experience with clients, show that businesses are more confident than they were six months ago. "These findings indicate SMEs are optimistic the Australian economy will continue to gather momentum, with almost 90 per cent of businesses expecting conditions to either improve or remain steady over the next six months," Mr Bennett said. The figures echo recent business surveys by National Australia Bank, which also show a marked improvement.

  • Pain for households as gas prices soar AAP - 5 hours ago

    NSW households face more utility bill pain, with gas prices set to rocket 17.6 per cent from July 1, adding up to $224 a year to an average bill. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) revealed the draft proposals on Wednesday, with Australia's growing export market and the carbon tax copping the blame. The rise means an average household will have to stump up an extra $150 to $224 for their annual gas bills from July 1, depending on the supplier. Gas prices in NSW have already increased by about 40 per cent in real terms between 2006 and 2014, piling enormous pressure on some households.

  • Technology transforms real estate market AAP - 5 hours ago

    Technology is changing the way the real estate business is conducted. Instead of trying to describe a property's location and look to a potential buyer, an agent simply has to log on to a computer or smartphone, to show them photographs and even get up a website like Google Earth to show them the outside, setting and location. "We would not look at acquiring a piece of land without understanding where it is, and Google Earth is good for places that aren't close to headquarters," said Kira Sterling, chief marketing officer at luxury home builder Toll Bros. "... The ability to use Google Earth to determine the location and proximity to transportation and amenities allows us more room to explore opportunities," Sterling said.

  • JB Hi-Fi boss Terry Smart to retire AAP - 6 hours ago
    JB Hi-Fi boss Terry Smart to retire

    JB Hi-Fi boss Terry Smart will retire in August after 14 years with the electronics retailer. He will be replaced by the retailer's chief financial officer Richard Murray. Mr Smart said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family after nearly 30 years in the retail industry. "After 14 years with JB Hi-Fi it was a hard decision to make," he said.

  • Budget faces long-term repair job: PM AAP - 6 hours ago

    Prime Minister Tony Abbott insists the federal budget faces a big repair job after Labor's six-year reform holiday. The Abbott government's first budget on May 13 will be one of long-term structural reform.

  • Internet job ads fall 2.6 pc in March AAP - 6 hours ago
    Internet job ads fall 2.6 pc in March

    Demand for new staff remains tentative despite the recent upswing in employment numbers and an unexpected but welcome fall in the jobless rate. New government figures show that job advertising on the internet fell by 2.6 per cent in March compared with a month earlier, led by a 3.5 per cent drop in demand for community workers. The Department of Employment's internet vacancy index fell to a seasonally adjusted 60.3 points in the month, 4.7 per cent lower than a year ago.

  • Apple offers free recycling of all devices AAP - 6 hours ago

    Apple is offering free recycling of all its used products and vowing to power all of its stores, offices and data centres with renewable energy to reduce the pollution caused by its devices and online services. The iPhone and iPad maker is detailing its efforts to cultivate a greener Apple Inc in an environmental section on the company's website that debuted on Monday. Apple had already been distributing gift cards at some of its 420 worldwide stores in exchange for iPhones and iPods still in good enough condition to be resold. Now, all of the company's stores will recycle any Apple product at no charge.

  • Shorten blasts timing of audit release AAP - 6 hours ago
    Shorten blasts timing of audit release

    The federal government will release its commission of audit within days, but Opposition Leader Bill Shorten says the timing is all about politics rather than the interests of Australians. Mr Shorten said the government had deliberately not released the report before the South Australian and Tasmanian elections, and the West Australian Senate election re-run. "I am deeply sceptical about when the government releases the commission of audit that it is all to do with politics and nothing to do with the interests of Australians," he told ABC radio.

  • $A falls below 93 US cents after CPI data AAP - 7 hours ago

    The Australian dollar fell to a two week low after weaker than expected local inflation figures. The market was expecting the annual rate to be 3.2 per cent, which would have been outside the Reserve Bank of Australia's two to three per cent target band. Westpac chief currency strategist Robert Rennie said the Australian dollar has been rising in recent days in anticipation of higher inflation numbers, and the weaker figures surprised the currency market. "I think today's data should put a clearer cap on the upside for the Aussie dollar," he said.

  • Share market hits near six year high AAP - 7 hours ago

    The Australian share market is trading higher in the wake of another strong lead from markets in the United States. "The improvement in the US market and sentiment has just really extended to Australia. Generally, we are getting some good gains," IG market strategist Stan Shamu said. The consumer price index (CPI), a key measure of inflation, rose 0.6 per cent in the March quarter, and 2.9 per cent in the year to March.

  • Buying a home too expensive, say renters AAP - 7 hours ago
    Buying a home too expensive, say renters

    Australia's booming property market is forcing many would-be buyers to delay or even give up on their home ownership dreams. A survey of renters across Australia has found more than half believe they cannot afford a deposit, while nearly a third believe they can't afford mortgage payments.

  • Stocks to watch at noon on Wednesday AAP - 7 hours ago

    Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange at noon on Wednesday: ALZ - AUSTRALAND - up 0.50 cent, or 0.12 per cent, at $4.285 SGP - STOCKLAND - down 3.50 cents, or 0.93 per cent, at $3.745 Australand ...

  • Lower inflation good news for borrowers AAP - 7 hours ago
    Lower inflation good news for borrowers

    Lower than expected inflation means the Reserve Bank of Australia can keep the cash rate at its current low. The consumer price index (CPI), a key measure of inflation, rose 2.9 per cent in the year to March, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday. The headline CPI was expected to rise by 0.8 per cent in the March quarter for an annual rate of 3.2 per cent, according to an AAP survey of 12 economists. The lower than expected figure would allow the RBA to keep the cash rate low, said ANZ chief economist Ivan Colhoun.

  • Payment attacks trail other cyber crime AAP - 7 hours ago

    While the US store chain Target's massive data breach in 2013 caused consumers to panic and drew attention to internet crime, a new study finds that breaches on retailer payment systems are less common than other kinds of attacks. More than twice as many of 2013's internet data breaches resulted from various small online acts, such people clicking on malicious web links and choosing easy-to-guess passwords, according to a worldwide report from Verizon. Target Corp's breach, one of the largest in history, resulted in the thefts of 40 million credit and debit card numbers, along with the personal information of up to 70 million people. Other companies, including fellow retailers Neiman Marcus and Michaels Stores Inc, later announced breaches to their systems as well.