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Growing concerns over job security even as inflation eases



The NAB Consumer Stress Index report has seen a consistent uptick for the past five quarters, reaching its highest level since the first quarter of 2020.

The primary factor contributing to this stress is the cost of living.

“While the stress related to the cost of living has steadied, apprehensions regarding job security continue to surge, particularly in the December quarter,” notes the report.

The juxtaposition of stable cost-of-living stress against the rising concerns about job security holds significance for the 2024 consumer outlook.

Consumption smoothing

Australians are resorting to “consumption smoothing,” meaning they are making deliberate choices to manage their household finances, support their lifestyles, and handle unforeseen expenses.

Stress levels concerning living costs remained unchanged at 69.4 points during the final three months of December, primarily due to the moderation of inflation.

Overall, the NAB Consumer Stress Index climbed to 59.9 points, up from 56 points in the preceding December quarter.

This development comes as PM Anthony Albanese called a sudden caucus meeting in Canberra, bringing together all Labor MPs to discuss measures aimed at mitigating the inflationary impact on middle Australia’s cost of living.

Job-related stress

NAB also pointed out that apart from job-related stress, consumers are increasingly concerned about the effect of government policies on their future spending and savings plans.

The survey revealed that slightly over one in five consumers now experience “very high” levels of stress due to government policies.

“Consumers also reported the highest level of stress stemming from their ability to fund their retirement since the onset of Covid in March 2020.”

Concerns about job security have been on a steady rise among consumers since the third quarter of 2022, coinciding with more challenging economic conditions.

Consumer anxiety

In the December quarter of 2023, it reached 48.2 points, marking an almost 14% increase from the previous year and consistently exceeding the NAB survey average of 45.8 points.

NAB anticipates that consumer anxiety about job prospects will continue to grow this year as unemployment rates rise amid a slowing economy.

NAB’s forecast indicates that the jobless rate may reach 4.5% by the end of 2024, up from 3.9% recorded last month.

Ahron Young is an award winning journalist who has covered major news events around the world. Ahron is the Managing Editor and Founder of TICKER NEWS.

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AI pushes the Nasdaq to a record-breaking close



The Nasdaq achieved a record-breaking close, surpassing its previous record high of 16,057.44, which was established on November 21, 2021.

Artificial assistance

Artificial intelligence-related technology stocks, such as Nvidia (NVDA.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), have greatly boosted the index.

The Nasdaq Composite has increased by almost 7.2% this year.

The tech-focused index surged 43% in 2023, and as chipmakers gained traction and confidence increased that the Fed might achieve a soft landing—that is, curb inflation without inciting a recession—stocks surged strongly by year-end.

In contrast, Nvidia increased by 1.9% on Thursday, bringing its total gain from a year ago to around 250%.

Market boom

Every S&P 500 subs sector saw a gain at the end of the month.

Analysts at Deutsche Bank report that the index has now increased for 16 of the past 18 weeks, matching the record most winning weeks last attained in 1971.

Bitcoin also moved closer to its all-time high.

The price of the virtual currency momentarily surpassed $64,000 as spot bitcoin ETFs helped drive it to heights last seen in 2021.

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Disney sign off on mega merger with India’s largest conglomerate



India’s top conglomerate Reliance Industries and Walt Disney announced the merger of their India TV and streaming media assets, forming an $8.5 billion entertainment juggernaut.

Disney, Reliance sign non-binding agreement for India’s largest media conglomerate

Reliance, led by Asia’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, will inject $1.4 billion in the merged entity, with the company and its affiliates holding a more than 63% stake, with Disney owning the rest, the companies said in a joint statement.

Mukesh Ambani, Reliance’s multimillionaire CEO

Media rivals

With two streaming platforms and 120 TV channels, the combined company will be a formidable opponent for competitors like Netflix and Sony of Japan in the $28 billion media and entertainment market, which is expected to grow to $100 billion by the end of the decade.

Disney’s lengthy battle to stop users from leaving its collapsing Indian streaming service and the financial burden resulting from billion-dollar payments for Indian cricket rights before the deal, providing yet another illustration of how difficult it can be for Western companies to expand in India.

Ultimate alliance

“The combined entity will create a sports behemoth in India,” stated Jinesh Joshi, an analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher in India.

“This merger will give Reliance great bargaining power when it comes to negotiating advertisement contracts … For Disney, coming together with a bigger player, in terms of (financial) pockets, will give it a cash cushion,” he continued.

According to the corporations, the combined company will serve the approximately 750 million viewers in India as well as the Indian diaspora worldwide.

According to Disney CEO Bog Iger’s statement, “Reliance has a deep understanding of the Indian market and consumer,” and the acquisition will enable “us to better serve consumers with a broad portfolio of digital services, entertainment, and sports.”

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Warner Bros Discovery plans to shutdown popular NZ news network



One of New Zealand’s two free-to-air television networks claimed it will be shutting down all newsroom operations, television news broadcasts and website from June 30, with the loss of up to 200 media jobs.

The once-thriving network, which had been a staple in the New Zealand entertainment industry, is now facing financial turmoil, sending shockwaves through the media landscape.

Warner Bros Discovery, who own the NZ news network, stated the decision comes following further attempts to reduce costs and that meant major changes including the planned shut down of the newsroom.

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