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THE NEWS WRAP: Australian businesses cut spending

Friday, 2 March 2012 | By Oliver Milman

Australian businesses cut their spending in the fourth quarter, with the economy still propped up by the mining industry, new figures have revealed.

 

Total capital expenditure on equipment, plants and machinery dropped 0.3% to $37.9 billion, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

 

Swan lashes out at “vested interests”

 

Treasurer Wayne Swan has attacked the “vested interests” of mining billionaires such as Gina Rinehart and Andrew Forrest, claiming that their actions are hurting small businesses.

 

In an article in the Monthly magazine, Swan said that high-profile campaigns by Rinehart and others, including radio “shock jocks”, were aimed at protecting their wealth and opposing policies that were good for the majority of Australians.

 

"We must fight a pitched battle against the influence of vested interests that seek to shape public policy to their own excessive benefit and at the expense of our middle-class society," he said.

 

Chinese manufacturing strengthens

 

Fears over a Chinese economic slowdown have been eased with new figures showing that its manufacturing activity expanded during February.

 

The country’s purchasing managers index, which rates manufacturing output, rose to 51.0 from 50.5, providing a positive signal for Australian businesses using China as a production hub.

 

Overnight

 

The Dow Jones industrial average was up 47.71 points, or 0.4%, to 12,998.78. The Australian dollar was steady at 107.92 US cents