Virgin Blue has halted its Asian expansion plans as it seeks to lift
the profitability of its Australian operations in the face of higher
oil prices and a renewed onslaught from rivals Qantas and Jetstar,
reports The Australian. It’s an airline suffering growing pains, says Stephen Bartholomeusz in the Smage.
Virgin Blue’s chief executive, Brett Godfrey, has a dilemma. He has to
promote the image of Virgin as a value airline while pushing it as an
upmarket carrier that appeals to the business market, says Elizabeth Knight in the SMH.
The reality is that Qantas’s Geoff Dixon has Godfrey neatly cornered
between Jetstar and the international carrier Qantas, says the AFR’s Chanticleer.

trifecta of rebounding consumer confidence, rising wages and healthier
retail sales figures has vindicated the Reserve Bank’s March interest
rate rise and increased the likelihood of future rises, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.
And David Jones has reassured a jittery market already littered with
retail profit warnings that it is on track to meet its earnings
forecast this year despite “tough” and “difficult” trading conditions,
reports the Smage.
But the unusually warm start to 2005 is beginning to play havoc with
company forecasts and is expected to influence results for companies
that rely on “normal” weather patterns for sales, reports The Australian.

And the Fin Review
reports that the ACCC is formally investigating the racing industry
over alleged anti-competitive behaviour in seeking to prevent Betfair
from securing a betting licence from state governments.

On Wall Street, US stocks ended sharply higher yesterday, with
Industrial Average putting in its best three-day performance in more
than six months, as tame inflation data and a slide in crude oil prices
eased fears about the outlook for the economy. The Dow Jones closed up
132 points, or 1.3%, at 10,464, while the Nasdaq tech index hit a
two-month high. MarketWatch has a full report here.