Orbital’s Saab deal

SAAB Automobiles AB has unveiled a new “engine control” system incorporating the Orbital Engine Corporation’s direct fuel injection technology. Saab will launch the combustion control system in its next generation vehicles. While Orbital’s technology is used in the motorcycle, marine and recreation markets, Saab is the first car manufacturer to publicly display a product incorporating it. According to Saab tests, its SCC system will reduce fuel consumption by up to 10 per cent while lowering exhaust emissions to below the US Ultra Low Emission Vehicle 2 requirements – without impairing engine performance. The ULEV2 standard takes effect in 2005.

WA migration loss

WA has experienced the first net interstate migration loss since1993 according to Australian Bureau of Statistics. In the 12 months ended March, WA’s net migration flow was minus 720 people. Tasmania, the Northern Territory and New South Wales also had negative net migration flows. Victoria and Queensland were the states of choice receiving 6,400 and 19,000 extra people respectively. New South Wales and Victoria both picked up about 2,000 Western Australians in the March quarter while Queensland picked up about 1,800 Western Australians. WA gained about 7,700 interstate migrants during the quarter.

Clough contracts

The Clough Group has been awarded its first contracts to supply oil and gas platforms and submarine pipelines for Unocal in the Gulf of Thailand. The contracts were awarded to Clough-Unithai Engineering Ltd (CUEL), the 50 per cent Clough-owned joint venture company established to execute the Unocal work. The $68.4 million contracts have been awarded through Clough’s strategic alliance with Unocal Thailand and Unithai Shipyard and Engineering. Work on the contracts is under way. The long-term alliance contract has been forecast to provide Clough with a revenue share of more than $250 million during the next seven years.

Trade deficit worse

AUSTRALIA posted a worse than expected August trade deficit of $1.3 billion, seasonally adjusted, compared to market expectations for a $0.8 billion deficit. Economists and the Government expected exports to increase because of the lower Australian dollar. However, they fell back 3.3 per cent during August while imports increased 3.5 per cent to be 17.5 per cent higher than a year ago. Imports of consumer goods fell back 2.2 per cent during the month but was not enough to counter a 3.2 per cent increase in capital good imports and a 6.2 per cent increase in intermediate good imports.

Business credit rise

BUSINESS credit growth increased 1.1 per cent in August, taking the annual rate to 9.8 per cent – the strongest rate in more than two years. A rebound in business confidence in the September quarter and the continued strength in corporate profitability gives further credence to economic growth. Personal credit growth grew two per cent in August, lifting the annual rate to 17.5 per cent. Westpac economist Harley Dale said this strong result provided a signal of continuing underlying strength in household demand. “In particular, it would have benefited from the post-GST surge in passenger car sales in July and August,” Mr Dale said. “Both personal and housing credit growth have been affected by GST ‘noise’, but in different directions. Aggregate household credit growth, however, still looks quite strong – strong enough to support a further rate hike of 0.25 per cent by the RBA.”

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