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70% Australian businesses predict recession within 12 months

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Most industry professionals anticipate Australia is heading for a recession, according to a new survey.

Advisory and investment firm KordaMentha and the Turnaround Management Association (TMA) of Australia surveyed insolvency professionals, turnaround advisors, company boards and lawyers for their insights on the economic outlook during the next 12 months.

Surveys were sent to hundreds of firms, gathering 115 responses.

Most of the survey respondents were in Victoria (43 per cent), while views also came from New South Wales (36 per cent) and Queensland (12 per cent).

Other states combined represented 9 per cent of the views reported.

This year, respondents were “resoundingly more bearish” on the economy than previous surveys — financial markets jargon for pessimistic.

Among the key findings, 70 per cent of those surveyed “anticipate a recession in the next 12 months, including 19 per cent who anticipate a recession in the next six months.”

Drilling down further, “51 per cent of respondents anticipate that a recession is likely in Australia in the next 12 months.”

The KordaMentha — TMA Australia 2023 Turnaround Survey report noted sentiment among working professionals had fallen noticeably during a relatively short space of time.

“This is a significant shift from September 2022 when only 27 per cent of respondents anticipated a recession,” the report said.

Around 47 per cent “anticipate inflation to remain around current levels over the next 12 months, with a third of respondents believing it will continue to rise.”

“Respondents overwhelmingly anticipate a recession as the impact of inflation and rising interest rates flow through the economy.

“Compounding these forces for business is a tightening of traditional debt and equity markets.”

Economic Impact of Interest Rate Increases

Earlier this week, the Commonwealth Bank’s chief economist noted that while the economy was already showing signs of stress, the Reserve Bank’s May and June interest rate decisions (lifting the cash rate by 0.25 percentage points in each month) were still yet to be felt by mortgage borrowers.

In other words, households will need to tighten their purse strings more in coming months while retail spending continues to slow.

Businesses also remain under pressure, according to the survey.

“Rising costs and wage increases are the primary cause of financial pressure on businesses,” the report noted.

“These pressures are leading to distress in sectors that are unable to pass through these costs to consumers either for contractual reasons (construction) or due to weak demand (consumer discretionary and commercial real estate).”

The five most distressed sectors are construction, consumer discretionary, commercial real estate, healthcare and residential real estate.

The National Australia Bank’s economists do not see a recession for Australia over the foreseeable future.

“Our best guess at this stage would be that in the June quarter [consumption] is flat,” NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster said.

“We’ve increased a little bit our June quarter [economic forecast] because of exports.

“We really don’t see the economy picking up until you get [interest] rate cuts and you basically start to see the world improve a little bit.”

The bank sees China’s economic health as a key risk for the Australian economy.

The Reserve Bank is also looking at global economic developments, including China.

“Members noted that the outlook for the Chinese economy had been revised lower and was subject to a high degree of uncertainty,” the RBA’s latest board meeting minutes said.

“The outlook depended on how the recovery in household consumption evolved, and the scale and effectiveness of policy support, particularly in the property sector.”

However, it does not forecast an Australian recession over the forecast period.

“Members observed that the economy was expected to grow well below its trend pace over 2023 as cost-of-living pressures and higher interest rates weigh on demand,” the RBA said.

“Growth in output was forecast to increase, albeit only gradually, over the remainder of the forecast period, supported by an easing of these headwinds and a pick-up in household wealth following the turnaround in the housing market.

“Year-ended [gross domestic product] GDP growth was expected to trough at 1 per cent at the end of 2023, before gradually picking up to around 2-and-a-quarter per cent by the end of 2025.”

The bank’s forecasts show inflation is expected to return to the bank’s target band of between 2 and 3 per cent by the middle of 2025, with the unemployment rate rising to 4.5 per cent.

Source: ABC News

Finance

Australian Consumer Confidence Reaches 20-Month High

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Household budgets are still under pressure but green shoots of optimism are starting to sprout in the consumer sector.

Consumer confidence as measured in weekly and monthly surveys has been stuck deep in the doldrums as interest rates went higher and cost of living pressures intensified.

However modest improvements have been logged in recent months, coinciding with convincing progress on inflation and talk of interest rate cuts.

The March update of the Westpac and Melbourne Institute monthly survey, which is due for release on Tuesday, hit a 20-month high in February but was still below the 100 neutral mark.

Since then, consumers have observed a mixed bag of data, including a return to real wage growth – but only just – and a gloomy report card for the economy in the December quarter.

Also on Tuesday, National Australia Bank’s business conditions gauge for February is scheduled.

The private sector has proved resilient in the face of economic headwinds but the January update revealed waning momentum.

The business conditions gauge, which captures profitability, hiring movements and sales activity, broke a two-year streak of above-average conditions over the month, falling to just below that threshold.

At the same time, confidence in the business sector improved a little but was still below the long-run average.

Data on the total value of residential dwellings is also due from the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday, as well as a speech from Sarah Hunter, Reserve Bank assistant governor (economics) at the AFR Business Summit.

More insights into the consumer will be released on Wednesday, with Commonwealth Bank’s report on household spending due.

Monthly business turnover is also slated from the ABS on Wednesday, and then overseas arrivals on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Australian stock market is expected to dip on Monday, after Wall Street ended narrowly weaker on Friday amid profit-taking by investors.

The decline followed a US labour market report that showed more new jobs than expected were created in February while the jobless rate rose to 3.9 per cent.

The US S&P 500 index lost 32.99 points, or 0.64 per cent, to end at 5,124.37 points, while the Nasdaq Composite lost 185.22 points, or 1.14 per cent, to 16,085.11.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 66.28 points, or 0.17 per cent, to 38,725.74.

The soft finish led Australian share price index futures 47 points lower to 7811, paving the way for a softer start to the trading week.

On Friday, the local bourse closed above 7,800 points for the first time, on signals that interest rate cuts in Europe and the US could happen sooner rather than later, giving investors hope the Reserve Bank of Australia could follow suit.

The S&P/ASX200 finished at 7,847.0, up 83.3 points, or 1.1 per cent for the day and up 1.3 per cent for the week.

The broader All Ordinaries climbed 80.8 points, or 1.01 per cent, to 8,107.5.

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TransPerfect Legal Wins 2023 Legal Tech Award

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TransPerfect Legal, a global provider of eDiscovery and litigation support solutions, has received Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer’s 2023 Service Provider Award within the legal technology and eDiscovery category for the second consecutive year.

Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer’s Service Provider Awards spotlight legal providers that are delivering the industry’s most effective and transformative solutions across legal technology, legal services, litigation support and consulting, recruiting, staffing and outsourcing, and ADR and mediation.

TransPerfect’s first Australian office opened in Sydney in 2007, with a dedicated TransPerfect Legal support team, servers, and forensic lab added in 2019. In response to the office’s rapid growth and the high demand for TransPerfect services in Australia, the company later added a Melbourne office. TransPerfect Legal was also named Australasian Legal Service Provider of the Year by Australasian Lawyer, and honoured as a 5 Star Service Provider by Australasian Lawyer in 2022.

TransPerfect President and CEO Phil Shawe commented, “We are proud to be recognised by Australasian Lawyer and NZ Lawyer. Credit for this award goes to our team of eDiscovery professionals and their unwavering commitment to our clients.”

About TransPerfect Legal
TransPerfect Legal is a global leader in legal technology and support. Founded in 1992, TransPerfect Legal has offices in 120+ cities across six continents and offers a suite of services and technologies to Am Law 200 and Global 100 law firms as well as corporate legal departments. Solutions include forensic technology and consultinge-discovery and early data assessmentmanaged review and legal staffinglanguage servicesdeposition and trial support, and paper discovery and production, all offered alongside the Reef Technology ecosystem, TransPerfect Legal’s suite of proprietary applications that address the needs of legal and regulatory practitioners around the world. www.transperfectlegal.com.

About TransPerfect
TransPerfect is the world’s largest provider of language and technology solutions for global business. From offices in more than 100 cities on six continents, TransPerfect offers a full range of services in 200+ languages to clients worldwide. More than 6,000 global organizations employ TransPerfect’s GlobalLink® technology to simplify the management of multilingual content. With an unparalleled commitment to quality and client service, TransPerfect is fully ISO 9001 and ISO 17100 certified. TransPerfect has global headquarters in New York, with regional headquarters in London and Hong Kong. For more information, please visit our website at www.transperfect.com

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Annature and AccountKit Unveil Groundbreaking Integration, Revolutionising eSignature Processes for Accountants

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Annature, Australia’s leading eSigning provider, in partnership with AccountKit, the premier compliance automation platform in accounting software, is thrilled to announce a revolutionary integration designed to modernise and streamline the eSignature process for accountants and bookkeepers.

This innovative integration directly connects AccountKit with Annature, allowing for the seamless transmission of documents and associated recipient information—such as eSigner names, contact numbers, and email addresses.

Key Features of the Integration:

  • Streamlined Efficiency: The integration eradicates manual data input, freeing up valuable time for professionals.
  • Enhanced Accuracy: By minimising human errors associated with manual data handling, the integration ensures greater precision in document processing.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Professionals can now manage and authorise documents within a unified platform, enhancing user experience and satisfaction.
  • Robust Security: The integration guarantees the protection of sensitive financial data throughout the transfer and eSignature process.

Corey Cacic, Annature CEO, stated: “This integration is a huge advancement for the industry. The hassle of manually moving data between systems has always been a drain on productivity. This seamless integration allows professionals to concentrate on their core tasks while reducing administrative overhead. I’m thrilled about the new levels of efficiency and precision this will introduce.”

Paul Murray, Co-founder of AccountKit, added: “This partnership is a transformative moment for our user community. We continually strive to augment our platform and simplify our users’ lives. Teaming up with Annature has enabled us to achieve just that.”

The integration is currently available in BETA as of December 2023 for all Annature and AccountKit users.

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