New plant growth, decorative As August rolls around and the weather begins to warm up, our thoughts are with the nation’s farmers. Many are battling a prolonged drought and wishing for rain.

On the domestic front, the corporate earnings season is approaching at a time when Australian shares are trading at 10-year highs. The lower Australian dollar, down 5 per cent this year to US74c in late July, should help boost companies with offshore earnings (should have bought $USD for our trip earlier in the year – too bad).

Inflation remains benign with an annual growth rate of 2.1 per cent in the June quarter, up from 1.9 per cent in March. Prices of petrol, health and tobacco rose strongly while prices fell for domestic travel, cars and vegetables. The unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.4 per cent in June but wage rises barely kept pace with inflation.

Falling house prices may also be weighing on sentiment, with the CoreLogic national Home Value Index falling 0.8 per cent in the year to June. Home prices fell in Sydney, Darwin and Perth, dragging down the national average.

In the US, June quarter corporate earnings reported so far have exceeded expectations, up 4.1 per cent on an annual basis despite ongoing global trade tensions. The IMF left its global growth forecast unchanged at 3.9 per cent for 2018 and 2019 which, if realised, would be the fastest growth in 7 years.

As you know Heather and I are going on our well-deserved long-service leave soon – we’re off to the West Coast of Canada and Alaska for our trip of a lifetime. Our last day at work will be Thursday 9th August, and we’ll be back on deck around the 18th or 19th of September. We’ve got a pretty hectic itinerary over the 5 weeks and plan to turn off from work as much as possible, but for those who’d like to keep an eye on our adventure we will be posting regularly on Facebook. If you’re not already Facebook friends with me please send me a friend request, and also follow our Excel facebook page

While we’re away Melissa and Stacey will still be at work keeping things ticking over for us, and our daughter Kate has stepped up to help while we’re away. We won’t be offering financial planning or mortgage broking services while I’m away, but Melissa has recently obtained tax agent registration so she’ll be able to sign-off on tax returns in my absence. So if you’ve got your info ready and would like your tax done please send it in.

Melissa, Stacey and Kate all have school aged children, and only work part-time, Our official office hours while we’re away will be 10:00 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Thank you for your understanding, and all the best wishes we’ve received for our upcoming holiday.