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5250.0 - Australian Business Expectations, Dec 1998 and Sep 1999  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/09/1998   
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MEDIA RELEASE

September 25, 1998
Embargoed 11:30am (AEST)
94/98

Latest Business Expectations - ABS survey results

The latest Business Expectations survey data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that businesses expect operating income, selling prices, profit and employment to rise in the December quarter 1998.

Operating Income is expected to rise by 1.5 per cent in part due to the seasonal increase in sales leading up to Christmas experienced in a number of industries. Two industries (Mining and Electricity, gas & water) expect Operating Income to fall in the short term, by 2.4 per cent and two per cent respectively. All other industries expect increases with Retail and Transport, storage & communication expecting increases of 4.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively due in part to the Christmas season.

The 0.5 per cent increase expected in selling prices is the largest increase in a December quarter since 1995 when a 1.2 per cent increase was expected. Electricity, gas & water is the only industry expecting a fall (0.2 per cent) in selling prices in the quarter, while the largest increases are expected in Retail and the Property and business services industries, both expecting an increase of 0.8 per cent.

Profits are expected to increase by six per cent with the Retail and Transport, storage & communication industries expecting the largest increase (16.6 per cent and 14.2 per cent respectively) while only three industries expect falls in their profits in the short term, with the Electricity, gas & water industry expecting a 12.9 per cent decline.

Full time equivalent employment is expected to rise by 0.1 per cent in the December quarter 1998. This is the first increase since the December quarter 1997 when an increase of 0.6 per cent was expected. Seven out of ten industries expect falls in employment in the December quarter 1998 with the largest fall expected in the Mining industry (1.2 per cent). Only the Retail, Accommodation, Cafes and Restaurants, and Property and Business Services industries expect to increase employment in the quarter with some of this likely to be due to seasonal factors such as the Christmas season and tourism.

In the year to September quarter 1999, businesses expect operating income, selling prices, profit and employment to rise (by 2.8 per cent, 0.9 per cent, 12.4 per cent and 0.4 per cent respectively). While the expectation for profit is weaker than expected for the June quarter 1999, the expectations for the other three indicators are all stronger.

Operating Income is expected to rise by 2.8 per cent in the medium term, with all industries expecting profits to increase. The largest increase is expected in the Transport, storage & communication industry where an increase of 4.5 per cent is expected.

Full time equivalent Employment is expected to rise by 0.4 per cent in the medium term. This is a turnaround from three months ago when it was expected to fall by 0.5 per cent.

More details are contained in Australian Business Expectations, December 1998 and September 1999 (cat. no. 5250.0).

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