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

Sainsbury’s to cut 1,500 jobs in cost-cutting plan | Business News

Sainsbury’s has revealed plans to cut around 1,500 roles as part of a previously announced shake-up of its operations.

Sky News revealed earlier this month how the company, which also owns Argos, had refused to rule out job losses under the strategy update for investors.

It included a greater focus on food within its supermarkets, claiming more space from general merchandise and clothing.

Sainsbury’s said it was also targeting greater use of automation under the plans, which aimed to save £1bn over three years to boost investment in the business.

The company said it hoped to redeploy many of the 1,500 people affected by the changes.

The jobs will go at its store support centre, contact centre operations, in its in-store bakeries and in its general merchandise fulfilment network.

Sainsbury’s said it had proposed to colleagues in its Widnes contact centre, who operate the Careline service, that they should transfer to an existing partner.

It said a more efficient way of providing its bakery service meant jobs would go in that part of the business.

Chief executive Simon Roberts said: ”Our Next Level Sainsbury’s strategy is about giving customers more of what they come to Sainsbury’s for – outstanding value,