In this issue:
It’s December and the countdown to Christmas and the summer holidays has begun. But before we tuck into our Christmas ham (or prawns), switch on the cricket and head for the beach, there is always work to complete and loose ends to tie up.
The Australian economy sent mixed messages in November. The Reserve Bank’s statement of monetary policy early in the month forecast economic growth will gradually pick up from the current annual rate of around 1.8 per cent to 3.5 per cent by the end of 2019. Inflation, currently 1.8 per cent, is expected to remain low and while the next movement in interest rates is likely to be up, the Reserve is in no hurry to act.
The improving economic outlook is reflected in business profits, with the NAB business conditions and profitability indices at record highs in October, at 21.1 points and 26.2 points respectively. The jobless rate also continues to fall, from 5.5 per cent to 5.4 per cent in October, the lowest since February 2013. Wage growth, however, still lags at 2.0 per cent in the year to September, only just ahead of inflation at 1.8 per cent. Consumer confidence hit a four-month high in November before easing back slightly; the ANZ/Roy Morgan consumer confidence index finished the month at 115.0 points, above its long-term average. This has yet to translate into retail sales which were up just 0.1 per cent in the September quarter while retail prices fell 0.4 per cent. The Australian dollar finished the month around US76c, up almost 6 per cent so far this year.
Things are looking up for first home buyers for the first time in years as house price growth begins to slow across the country. While prices have been on the slide for some areas in the West and the North since the end of the mining boom, the housing market in Sydney and Melbourne also appears to be losing steam…Read more
Even those of us who have been paragons of responsibility for 51 weeks of the year can be tempted to take a budgeting holiday when Christmas and the summer vacation roll around. Unlike overindulging at the Christmas lunch, this has more than short-term consequences. Last December, Australians spent $25.6 billion in retail stores…Read more
Would Christmas be the same for you without the smooth croon of Crosby and Sinatra around the BBQ? Or perhaps you are more likely to wince every time ‘All I Want for Christmas Is You’ comes on the radio. No matter which camp you belong to the emotional impact of music seems all the more potent around Christmas time. We know we find music pleasurable, but…Read more