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Building approvals surprise in October

Building approvals rose by a surprise 0.9 per cent in October, boosted by a jump in construction activity in Victoria and Queensland. The increase was far better than market expectations of a 1.0 per cent decline. Approvals for private sector houses were up by 10,063, or 1.5 per cent in the month, and have now…

Banks wobble on news of royal commission

The announcement of a banking royal commission has shaken Australia’s financial sector and could land the big banks with a bill of up to $100 million each. Shares in Commonwealth Bank, Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ and Macquarie tumbled on Thursday as investors took fright at news the big lenders had, after months of resistance,…

Brisbane apartment market has BOQ on alert

Bank of Queensland says moderating house prices across Australia’s east coast are welcome but the institution is bracing for any collapse, especially in Brisbane’s oversupplied apartment market. BOQ chairman Roger Davis said while Brisbane was at the forefront of speculation around a housing bubble bursting, the bank was well-positioned in the event of any volatility….

ACCC won’t help retailers hit by Amazon

The competition watchdog has warned it will not protect retailers from Amazon, saying the e-commerce giant’s imminent arrival will be good for customers. Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said some retailers had called on the watchdog to act against Amazon’s business model amid fears they would be put out of business but,…

Aristocrat lands $1.4 billion Big Fish

Poker machine supplier Aristocrat Leisure is further expanding its digital operations with the acquisition of Seattle-based social gaming company Big Fish Games for $US990 million ($A1.4 billion). The acquisition follows Aristocrat’s $US500 million acquisition of Israeli social gaming company Plarium Global, which was completed in October. Aristocrat on Thursday also reported a 41.3 per cent…

Stocks to watch

Stocks to watch on the Australian stock exchange: ANZ – ANZ BANKING GROUP – down 31 cents, or 1.08 per cent, at $28.46 CBA – COMMONWEALTH BANK – down $1.55 or 1.91 per cent, at $79.43 NAB – NATIONAL AUSTRALIA BANK – up one cent, or 0.03 per cent, at $29.59 WBC – WESTPAC –…

Aust shares look set to open lower.

The Australian share market looks set to open lower as both the Nasdaq and the S&P head toward their biggest one-day losses in months. At 0700 AEDT on Thursday, the share price futures index was down nine points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,010. In the US, investors have bailed out of high-flying tech stocks…

Investment aids strengthening economy

New business investment figures back Treasurer Scott Morrison’s view the economy is “shifting gears” and entering a new chapter of growth. Business capital expenditure rose by a further one per cent in the September quarter and spending plans were upgraded. Annual investment grew by 2.3 per cent, the first positive result since late 2012. “Today’s…

PM led ‘kicking, screaming’ to bank review

All sides of the political divide have claimed victory in dragging Malcolm Turnbull “kicking and screaming” to set up a year-long royal commission into financial sector misconduct. The final straw for the prime minister came when the big four banks themselves wrote to the government calling for a “properly constituted inquiry”, having fought against a…

Customer service king in Amazon age

Australian retailers may be scrambling to whip their websites into shape ahead of the Amazon avalanche but the secret to their survival may lie in perfecting customer service at their physical stores, a leading futurist says. Amazon, which accounts for more than four in 10 online purchases in the US, is expected to launch in…