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This week, the business world was impacted by the grounding of Qantas domestic and international flights and it welcomed news that the RBA cut interest rates, that conditions are looking good for 2012 and that retail turnover rose again last month. Also, a group buying code of conduct came into effect and the biggest IKEA in the southern hemisphere opened for business.

Miss the most important headlines? We’ve wrapped them up for you.

Qantas back in the air after shutdown

Qantas resumed domestic and international flights on Monday afternoon, after CEO Alan Joyce announced on Saturday all planes would be grounded as a result of ongoing industrial action.

On Sunday night, Fair Work Australia (FWA) ruled unions must end their series of strikes, which Joyce said were destablising the company.

Since flights were re-instated, Qantas has been warned by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to better its response to consumers impacted by the grounding of the fleet last weekend.

The ACCC said it’s been in contact with Qantas since Sunday to ask how the company plans on treating affected passengers.

Telstra’s portable hotspot in a box launches

Telstra has launched a device that turns its mobile broadband service into a portable Wi-Fi and Ethernet hotspot for use by multiple devices and users, ideal for businesses looking to connect and transact from mobile work sites.

Developed by NetComm, the Telstra Ultimate Gateway allows businesses to easily establish a powerful Wi-Fi and wired network for multiple devices and users and it’s up to twice as fast as Telstra’s previous mobile broadband gateways.

Commonwealth Bank improves business access to funds

The Commonwealth Bank (CBA) has rolled out its Everyday Settlement feature, designed to give businesses instant access to funds from their merchant terminals.

CBA said it’s the first of the big four banks to deliver this service, which will offer fast turnaround for late trading businesses, with transactions processed as late as 10pm AEST settled into a customers account by midnight the same day.

Need recall information? There’s an app for that

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched an iPhone app to provide easy access to information about recalled consumer goods.

Designed for consumers and based on information from the Recalls Australia site, the app is available for free download from the iTunes store.

RBA cuts rates in time for Christmas, banks follow suit

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut interest rates by 25 basis points on Tuesday, taking the cash rate down to 4.5 percent in time for the all important Christmas season.

The RBA made the decision to cut rates for the first time in over two years, due to financial volatility in global market, which governor Glenn Stevens said could slow the Australian economy.

Businesses sitting comfortably for 2012

Businesses are feeling confident about trading conditions for the upcoming year, following surprisingly positive expectation results during the September quarter.

The upward trend in expectations reflects an anticipated cut in interest rates and a strong sales and profit performance in the manufacturing and wholesaling sectors.

Dun & Bradstreet’s latest Business Expectations Survey revealed firms are expecting enhanced performance rates across sales (+11), profits (+2), employment (+7) and investment (+7) for the first quarter of 2012.

Harvey Norman sees sales and profits slide

Harvey Norman’s revenue fell 3.8 percent in the three months to September 30, with its Australian, Kiwi, Slovenian and Irish franchises generating sales of $1.48 billion.

Harvey Norman’s Australian franchises saw a 2.9 percent decrease in total sales for the first quarter of the financial year, compared to the 2011 first quarter, and a 2.8 percent decrease between the same periods for like for like sales.

Group buying code of conduct comes into being

Australia now has an official group buying code of conduct, designed to boost consumer confidence in the platform and ensure they make informed choices about purchases, and to promote compliance and best practices within the industry.

The code includes an independent, transparent and open complaint-handling process for consumers who’ve been unable to resolve an issue with a group buying company in the first instance. The process has been designed to encourage the group buying industry to resolve established consumer complaints, and will be managed by the ADMA Code Authority.

Woolworths to add 10,000 jobs, CEO discusses Masters success

Woolworths CEO Grant O’Brien has announced the company will create 10,000 new retail jobs by the end of the financial year, as the business recruits staff to work in new stores and distribution centres.

His comments came during yesterday’s investor briefing, in which the company also announced 39 new Woolworths stores would open in 2012.

In addition to talking about its food business, O’Brien spoke about the success of Woolworths’ new home improvement venture, Masters. With five stores now open in Victoria and Queensland, he said sales have been well ahead of budget and customers have reacted strongly to Masters’ format, range and pricing.

IKEA Tempe opens for business

The title of the biggest IKEA in the Southern Hemisphere has been stripped from the Springvale outlet and claimed by the new Sydney store, which officially opened for business on Thursday.

IKEA Tempe, in Sydney’s south-west, measures a massive 39,000m2 and comprises of a 6,690m2 showroom, 6,690m2 market hall and a 12,860m2 warehouse, which allows for self-service.

Customers will be able to browse 60 different room settings, 50 percent of which focus on solutions for living with children. The store also features three complete homes, one of which is built on sustainable living.

Norway pips Australia as best country to live in

Australia has placed a close second to Norway in the United Nations 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), with the Scandinavian country pipping us at the post by 0.1 of an index point.

Norway came in at 0.94 on a scale of 0 to 1, where 1 is the highest score, whilst Australia scored 0.93. The HDI ranks countries based on their national achievements in health, education and income.

Retail turnover rises, again

With Christmas less than eight weeks away, retailers have received a much-need confidence boost with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reporting retail turnover rose 0.4 percent last month.

This seasonally adjusted result of $20.9 billion follows on from a 0.6 percent rise in August.

Trend turnover rose 0.3 percent for the month to total $20.8 billion, following a rise of 0.3 percent in August and July.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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