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FIVE at FIVE AU: ASX lower again; Treasurer releases employment white paper; all quiet on the data front

Published Sep 25, 2023 16:02 Updated Sep 25, 2023 16:30
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© Reuters. FIVE at FIVE AU: ASX lower again; Treasurer releases employment white paper; all quiet on the data front
 
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The S&P/ASX200 edged lower today, down as much as 11.80 points or 0.17% to 7,057.00 and setting a new 100-day low, before rebounding and ending just 4.50 points down.

The index has lost 2.95% for the last five days but is virtually unchanged over the last year to date.

Despite the trading slump overall, several individual sectors were in the green just after lunch, with Information Technology (1.80%), Utilities (0.79%), Communication Services (1.14%), Consumer Discretionary (0.83%), Consumer Staples (0.67%) and Energy (0.50%) all up.

At the other end of proceedings were Materials (down 0.98%) and Financials (-0.43%).

Employment white paper

The employment white paper released today outlines changes aimed at incentivising age pensioners and those on income support to rejoin the workforce, addressing Australia's skills and labour shortages.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers authored the paper, which outlines amendments to the age pension Work Bonus and other welfare provisions, enabling recipients to earn more without losing benefits.

One key change extends the employment income nil rate period, allowing welfare recipients who find employment to retain associated concessions for 24 weeks, up from the current 12 weeks.

The objective is to eliminate the disincentives that deter individuals from taking up short-term or casual employment, such as the fear of losing concession cards and childcare subsidies.

Scheduled for implementation on July 1 next year, the government estimates that these changes will benefit approximately 138,000 individuals annually at a cost of A$42.8 million over the first three years.

Quiet week on the data front

Australia's economic calendar is quiet this week, with no major events or data releases in the offing. There are nevertheless key economic indicators to watch for: Tuesday will feature the regular weekly reading on consumer sentiment along with minutes from the latest Reserve Bank Board meeting.

On Wednesday, Westpac will issue its leading index, followed by the Reserve Bank Bulletin and detailed labour market data for August from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Thursday.

Friday will see the release of the 'flash' survey of purchasing managers, indicating contraction in both the services and factory sectors.

While the domestic economic agenda appears quiet, the international stage is set for significant activity.

The key event to watch is the US Federal Reserve's interest rate decision scheduled for Thursday at 4:00am Melbourne time. Although no change in interest rates is anticipated, investors will keenly await the latest forecasts and the Fed chair's press briefing.

Additional indicators include existing home sales, housing starts, housing sentiment, and the leading index in the US. Concurrently, the 'flash' purchasing manager indices will also be published in Europe and Japan on Friday.

In China, attention will be focused on the loan prime rate fixing on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) economists predict a rate hike of 25 basis points by the Bank of England to 5.5% on Thursday.

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FIVE at FIVE AU: ASX lower again; Treasurer releases employment white paper; all quiet on the data front
 

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