THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY HAS WELCOMED THE PRIME MINISTER'S ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT THIS YEAR'S FEDERAL ELECTION. THE AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY'S CHIEF EXECUTIVE PETER ANDERSON, SAYS BUSINESS WANTS BOTH PARTIES TO RELEASE COSTED POLICIES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

WESFARMERS HAS POSTED ANOTHER STRONG QUARTER OF RETAIL SALES THROUGH ITS BRANDS, INCLUDING COLES AND BUNNINGS. FOOD AND LIQUOR SALES THROUGH COLES GREW BY THREE-POINT-NINE PER CENT DURING THE DECEMBER QUARTER, TOTALLING NINE-POINT-NINE BILLION DOLLARS. FUEL SALES THROUGH COLES-BRANDED PETROL STATIONS ROSE BY THREE-POINT-FOUR PER CENT IN THE SAME PERIOD.

AND SALES FOR BUNNINGS AND K-MART ALSO GREW. BUT DESPITE THE SOLID RESULT, WESFARMERS SHARES FINISHED THE SESSION IN THE RED.

TIME TO CHECK THE MARKETS NOW .. AND LOCAL SHARES HAVE CLOSED HIGHER FOR THE TENTH DAY IN A ROW, MANAGING TO HANG ONTO EARLIER GAINS. THE ALL ORDINARIES INDEX GAINED POINT-TWO OF A PER CENT, TO CLOSE AT FOUR-THOUSAND-919. THE ASX 200 ADDED THE SAME AMOUNT, TO FOUR-THOUSAND-897. ELSEWHERE IN THE REGION, JAPAN'S NIKKEI IS UP 204 POINTS AND HONG KONG'S HANG SENG HAS ADDED 185 POINTS. CHECKING COMMODITIES, GOLD IS BUYING 1,665 DOLLARS AN OUNCE. WEST TEXAS CRUDE OIL IS AT 97.6 US DOLLARS A BARREL. AND THE AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR IS CURRENTLY BUYING 104-POINT-SEVEN US CENTS AND 95.1 JAPANESE YEN.

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