ASX closes lower after reaching new record high — as it happened

That’s the analyst consensus from the December quarter business indicators data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today.

Company profits grew 7.4%which was well above most expectations, but driven almost entirely by two big industries.

“Gains were narrowly focused in the mining (17% quarter-on-quarter) and finance (38% q/q) sectors, with more than half of the reported industries experiencing a profit contraction in the December quarter,” observed JP Morgan’s Tom Kennedy.

The biggest fall in quarterly profits came from retail (-10.9%), along with “other services” (-5.1%), and arts and recreation (-2.6%)which highlights the effect interest rate rises are now having on more discretionary consumption.

Other than mining and banking plus insurance, electricity and other utilities (+7.8%) and transport, postal plus warehousing (+5.1%) also saw very healthy quarterly profit gains.

The sector enjoying surging profits will surprise few who’ve had to pay a power bill or insurance renewal recently.

Even though narrowly concentrated, profits are likely to slightly boost GDP when it is released on Wednesday.

However, inventory will not, as businesses clear out excess stock.

The 1.7%/qtr decline in non-farm inventories was much larger than we had anticipated,” noted CBA’s Stephen Wu.

“Our calculations suggest that