Businesses to greet a gloomy Christmas

The weak Australian dollar, high petrol prices and continued inflationary pressures will continue to hurt Australian businesses, the latest Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) survey has shown.

The new business expectations report indicated a bleaker outlook for the December quarter, with nearly half of all executives reporting the dramatic 20 per cent fall in the value of the Australian dollar since July had worsened their business environment.

Almost 70 per cent of executives anticipate a negative impact of the tightening credit market on their operations, while oil prices continue to pose one of the biggest challenges, with 93 per cent of executives reporting they have negatively impacted their business.

The December quarter is expected to bring a sharp fall in sales, profits, employment growth and capital investment, with all of these indexes in negative territory for the second consecutive quarter.

Selling price expectations are the only exception, projected to hit the highest level in 20 years, an index of 62, following an increase of 11 per cent.

D&B CEO Christine Christian said while business confidence for the coming quarter was set to drop to levels not seen since the 1990s, Australia was better situated compared to other countries amid the current global financial turmoil.

“Australian businesses are undoubted facing some very real challenges, “Ms Christian said.

“Profit margins are being eroded by a slowing economy and escalating funding and goods costs, while the decline in the Aussie dollar is forcing businesses to pay more for their imports.

“However, Australia’s outlook continues to be stable at a time when the economic conditions in many countries are deteriorating very rapidly. Another move by the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates should be received positively by business given its likely positive flow-on effects on spending and investment,” she said.

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