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Big spenders fail to win swingers

PETER Beattie’s Lab-or government in Queens-land has just confirmed any fears the Federal Coalition government might have leading up to federal elections later this year.

Labor’s outright victory in Queensland has given rise to speculation of a big spend by the Coalition government to woo the elusive swinging voters.

Meanwhile, back in Perth, the political back-biting is far from over with former Premier Richard Court and Colin Barnett taking shots as each other.

Kerry Packer’s Crown Casino has produced profits that overshadow any drop in the traditional television and magazine publishing business.

Hopefully, Australians aren’t heading to the casino, but it seems our love affair with the stock market has cooled. A survey found 52 per cent of Australian adults owned shares compared to 54 per cent 12 months earlier.

This might be good news considering the Australian sharemarket will be hard pushed to find much inspiration this week with the US showing further signs of its economic slowdown.

Retail trade is doing some hard yards ahead of the economic slowdown in Australia. Country Road have recorded a slump of almost 86 per cent in interim profit. The retailer announced a net profit for the six months to December 31 of just $157,000 down 85.6 per cent on the previous corresponding half’s $1.09 million result.

John Fairfax holdings online business sold its online auction company sold.com.au this week to Yahoo! Australia & NZ in a deal it said would result in a $419 million gain.

On other dot coms, Perth’s Travelshop have flagged plans to abandon their retail network and concentrate on the online operation.

Travel looks like a more costly venture this week with the Australian dollar falling to its lowest level since November with currency strategists warning of a decent to all time lows as the US economic outlook improved.

There is some good news for the gold industry after the gold price bounced back over the weekend when nothing seemed to be in the way of it sliding below the $US250 an ounce.

Royal Dutch Shell have employed the services of a Melbourne academic to convince Australians the Woodside Petroleum offer is not contrary to national interests.

Opposition leader Kim Beazley has assured the promised GST rollback is in the national interest. Mr Beazley has promised to keep rolling back the tax as long as problems arise.

Telstra may well be wishing it could turn back time to when the telco stocks ruled the land.

This week Telstra led the sharemarket on a downward trend. Australia’s biggest company finished 25 cents weaker at $6.45, its lowest close for the year.

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