April is here beginning with a welcome Easter break. Whether you took the opportunity to head off on holidays, or if you decided to just relax at home, we hope you had a happy easter.
As the vaccine rollout continues, restrictions ease, and life is a little closer to normal despite occasional setbacks. The recent floods in the local area remind us nature is both powerful and unpredictable. We hope you weren’t too badly affected. For us it meant a few days our team weren’t able to join us at the office, but fortunately were able to do some work from home.
There was a raft of positive economic news in March, which should make the Federal Treasurer’s job a little easier when he hands down the Budget on May 11. The Australian economy staged a remarkable V-shaped recovery in 2020, growing 3.1% in the December quarter and 3.4% the previous quarter – the biggest 6-month lift on record – after plunging into recession in the first half year. The main contributor was iron ore, which has doubled in price since March last year.
As the vaccine rollout began and restrictions eased, business and consumer confidence rebounded. The NAB Business Confidence Index rose to an 11-year high of +16.4 points in February while the ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence rating hit a 7-year high of 124 points in March, up 30% over the year.
Confidence was reflected in a recent surge in new vehicle sales, housing construction and property values. It was also boosted by a fall in unemployment from 6.4% to an 11-month low of 5.8% in February. Company profits have also remained strong, with 86% of ASX200 companies reporting a profit in the December half year. Although aggregate earnings fell 17%, dividends were up 5% on a year ago with an estimated $26 billion currently flowing to shareholders.
It’s not all plain sailing though. Temporary coronavirus JobSeeker and JobKeeper payments ended on March 31, and fuel prices rose just as everyone was filling up for Easter road trips. The strengthening economy saw the Aussie dollar shed 2c to US76c in March.
Just a quick note on the team – Angela has decided the work we had her doing wasn’t what she wanted, and she has finished up with us. We wish her all the best with her future endeavours.
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