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Australian Consumer Confidence Reaches 20-Month High



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



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.

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

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



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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RBA’s Response to Inflation Figures



RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia) is still digesting the latest inflation data and it’s not yet clear if the figures will spur more interest rate action.

September quarter inflation data came in a little above expectation, with high prices for petrol, rent, new builds, and electricity fuelling a solid 1.2 per cent lift.

The numbers have sparked speculation the central bank’s forecasts for bringing inflation back to target within its expressed timeline are less viable.

Earlier in the week, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Michele Bullock made it clear the board would not hesitate to act if there was a “material upward revision” to the outlook for inflation.

Speaking at a parliamentary hearing on Thursday, Ms Bullock said the central bank was still analysing the data.

“I’m not prepared to say yet whether or not it’s a material change to our forecasts, because there is going to be a change to our forecasts,” she said.

“We have to look at whether or not it’s material enough to change our views on monetary policy.”

Ms Bullock said the latest set of quarterly inflation data came in a little higher than its most up-to-date forecasts, but more or less in line with their evolving expectations that took into account higher prices at the petrol pump.

“The print came out a little higher than we’d been forecasting at our August statement on monetary policy, but it was pretty much where we thought it would come out given the information that has come in to since then, particularly the monthly CPI indicator,” she said.

September inflation figures showed a continuation of the trend towards moderating goods prices while services inflation proved more persistent, the governor said.

“When I say persistent it means that the inflation in those sorts of components of the CPI tends to last longer,” she said.

“Consistently, we’re seeing that although services inflation is declining, it’s still higher than we’re comfortable with.

” So, in a sense, it reinforced all of that for us.”

Ms Bullock said high input prices, including electricity costs, rents and wages, were keeping upward pressure on services inflation.

“We’re looking at some of the more persistent parts of inflation and asking ourselves, ‘are there signs that those might be coming down in the future?”

She said the central bank had made it “very clear that we might need to go again” despite keeping interest rates on hold since June.

Upcoming RBA Forecasts

The RBA will release a new set of forecasts after the November board meeting in the statement on monetary policy.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the inflation numbers would not materially change Treasury’s forecasts but the RBA would make its own assessment.

Inflation lifted 1.2 per cent over the three months to September, as captured in the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ quarterly consumer price index, up from 0.8 per cent in the June quarter.

Annual inflation moderated to 5.4 per cent from six per cent.

The central bank has kept interest rates on hold at 4.1 per cent for the past four meetings but repeatedly warned more tightening may be needed to bring inflation back to its two-three per cent target range.

The board next meets on November 7.

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