BRIEFS

RESERVE BANK

RESERVE BANK

Ridout on board

The chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, Heather Ridout, will next year take up a seat on the Reserve Bank board after her appointment was cleared by federal cabinet yesterday. Philip Lowe, now an assistant governor, will also move onto the board after he was announced as the central bank's next deputy governor. Mrs Ridout and Dr Lowe will fill vacancies left by Bluescope Steel chairman Graham Kraehe and the present deputy governor, Ric Battellino, who is soon retiring.

AUTOMOTIVE

Sales edge higher

Australian automotive sales climbed 1.5 per cent, to 88,654 cars, trucks and buses, last month, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said yesterday. The group's chief executive, Ian Chalmers, said it was the second highest November on record but sales for the year-to-date were down 2.4 per cent over the same period last year. The Toyota Corolla was the best selling car, with 3731 sold but there was also a surge in sports utility vehicle sales, Mr Chalmers said.

MEDIA

APN downgrade

APN News & Media has downgraded its profit forecast for this year citing weakness in advertising markets in Australia and New Zealand as well as the natural disasters. APN, which owns regional newspapers in both markets, now expects its net earnings for the year will be between $75 million and $77 million, which it said is slightly below current market consensus. APN has claimed market share gains in outdoor advertising and in radio but said conditions affecting its publishing business remain "challenging".

BUSINESS

Confidence down

There has been a sharp decline in business confidence as worries grow that the European financial crisis will worsen and hit the global economy, according to the Dun & Bradstreet national business expectations survey. Sales expectations last month fell five points and profit expectations were flat based on results recorded in October. The company's chief executive, Christine Christian, said fears the debt crisis would cause a recession in Europe were increasingly an issue for Australian businesses.

BROADBAND

NBN price freeze

Wholesale prices on the national broadband network will be frozen at $24 for five years and then increase at half the inflation rate, according to regulatory documents lodged by NBN Co yesterday. This means the entry level wholesale price would not rise until at least July 2017, and then increase by no more than 1 to 2 per cent a year after that, depending on inflation. NBN Co said it cannot guarantee retail service providers would not increase retail prices independently of wholesale prices.

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