Australia's trade surplus has slipped to its lowest level in three months, weighed down by a decline in LNG shipments and lower gold exports.The trade balance fell to a surplus of $460 million in July, about half of the $888 million surplus in June, seasonally adjusted data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed.

The strain of low wages growth and higher power bills on household budgets has led to a pause in retail spending growth in July.RBC Capital Markets senior economist Su-Lin Ong said there could be further weakness in retail spending in the months to come.

Western Australia's new Labor government has turned to big business in its bid to repair the state's diabolical finances, imposing a temporary payroll tax levy on large corporations, while changes to gold royalties will also help reduce debt.For five years starting on July 1, employers with a nation-wide payroll between $100 million and $1.

The financial pain will continue for Western Australia's public service after the state government announced in its 2017/18 budget it would seek 3000 voluntary redundancies.Treasurer Ben Wyatt said priority would be given to public servants whose jobs may no longer be required following a shake up of agency numbers.

The company's shares were down 0.5 per cent at $US161.

A last-minute legal challenge by media mogul Bruce Gordon over rival US media giant CBS's attempt to take control of the embattled Ten Network has bought him an extra week before the next creditors meeting.Ten's billionaire shareholders Mr Gordon and Lachlan Murdoch were in August given the regulatory all-clear to launch a joint takeover of the free-to-air network, only to be outbid by CBS days later.

Macquarie Group expects its result in the first half of the 2018 fiscal year will be better than the corresponding period last year and in line with the second half of 2016/17, as a result of stronger performance fees to be recognised during this period.The combined net profit for the full year is, however, expected to be broadly in line with the FY17 results, the banking and financial services group says.

The reports gave no possible target date, but Beijing is stepping up pressure on automakers to accelerate development of electrics.A deputy industry minister, Xin Guobin, said at an auto industry forum on Saturday his ministry has begun 'research on formulating a timetable to stop production and sales of traditional energy vehicles,' according to the Xinhua News Agency and the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily.

Home values continued to plateau across the nation's capital cities last week despite a strong rebound in auction clearance rates.The combined prices for the nation's key capital cities has now inched up just 0.

Shares of Walt Disney Co and Comcast Corp have tumbled after Disney warned of stagnant earnings and the number one cable operator Comcast forecast more subscriber losses.Walt Disney and Comcast are the two latest examples of media and entertainment companies struggling under increased competition and a trend by consumers of ditching cable packages for less expensive online streaming options.

Tabcorp expects to complete its $11 billion mega merger with gaming rival Tatts on November 1.The betting and gaming giant says it is confident of completing the deal, with Tatts shareholders scheduled to vote on the scheme of arrangement on October 18, before a second court hearing into the merger six days later.

More Australians are giving their time but fewer are giving money than a decade ago.However, the amount of money those 81 per cent Australians who do donate to charity give has risen substantially, with $12.

Ten Network's administrators say Bruce Gordon is putting jobs at risk by challenging the troubled broadcast's takeover by US media giant CBS.Mr Gordon's Birketu had secured regulatory approval to make a joint bid for the free-to-air network, but regional affiliate WIN - which is majority owned by Mr Gordon - last week made an urgent application to the NSW Supreme Court after administrator KordaMentha instead recommended a rival offer from CBS.

5 billion fine imposed by the European Commission.At the time of the ruling, the tech giant had said it 'respectfully' disagreed with the findings and would consider an appeal.

The dollar amount of environmental security bonds for mines in the Northern Territory are to be made public.Resources Minister Ken Vowels says the bonds, which are held to make sure miners comply with environmental laws and help cover the cost of mine rehabilitation, will be made public in a bid to bring about better accountability.

Mr Neal, who has led QBE for five years, this year lost more than $550,000 in pay for a delay in telling his board about a relationship with his personal assistant, but chairman Marty Becker on Tuesday said succession planning had been ongoing for the past two years.'John has led the business through a significant transformation and a challenging period in the insurance industry globally and has been working closely with the board to ensure a smooth transition for his succession,' Mr Becker said.

So-called phoenixing activity costs the economy up to $3.2 billion per year and hurts employees, creditors, competing businesses and taxpayers, Revenue and Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said on Tuesday.

The WA Nationals say they will block measures targeting big business that were unveiled last week as part of the state government's budget repair plan.The new Labor government hopes increasing payroll tax for large businesses and royalty rates for gold miners will trim net debt in 2020/21 by $827 million.

ASIC chairman Greg Medcraft says addressing culture and conduct at Australia's big banks will remain unfinished business when his term ends in November.The corporate regulator announced last month it is investigating Commonwealth Bank over its alleged breach of money laundering and terrorism financing laws and breached the Corporations Act.
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