The Motley Fool

NAB says the Australian economy is significantly slowing

The National Australia Bank Ltd (ASX: NAB) business survey shows there is a significant slowing of the Australian economy.

The AFR quoted NAB’s chief economist Alan Oster as saying “the weakening in conditions has become relatively broad-based with declines across all industries except mining over the past six months. The decline in conditions has also been evident across all states.”

According to the survey, the retail sector was the only one to report actual negative business conditions, but it doesn’t look particularly good for the whole economy. This won’t be good news for shareholders of companies like JB Hi-Fi Limited (ASX: JBH) and Nick Scali Limited (ASX: NCK).

Business optimism or pessimism is very important because it can dictate whether business invest in new growth projects and perhaps hire more people, or not. If you’re not feeling confident you’re unlikely to spend a lot of cash on expansion. If you’re a consumer you’re not likely to spend as much if the news is telling you the economy may head into a recession.

This wasn’t the only piece of news to come out of NAB today.

NAB’s MLC Wealth announced changes to its Wrap and retail MasterKey Super and Pension Fundamentals products which will deliver administration fee cuts of up to 50%. The Royal Commission is biting hard on the bank sector profits.

MLC Wealth CEO Geoff Lloyd said “We want to lead the industry in winning back trust, and these pricing changes are an important step in showing our clients and their advisers that we have listened to them, and we are changing”.

Effective from 4 February 2019, the administration fees for MLC’s retail Wrap Series 2 platforms will be halved to 0.15% per annum on the balance between $200,000 and $500,000. Administration fees for the balance above $500,000 will be cut 40 per cent to 0.03% per annum.

According to Mr Lloyd, this will make the MLC Wrap platform one of the cheapest in the country.

I wouldn’t base my investment decisions on just a business survey, but I do think we need to be careful in the selection of our ASX shares at this stage.

That’s why I’m attracted to these quality ASX stocks for my portfolio right now.

3 defensive ASX shares that could be perfect for the current market volatility

With interest rates likely to stay at rock bottom for months (or YEARS) to come, income-minded investors have nowhere to turn... except dividend shares. That’s why The Motley Fool’s top analysts have just prepared a brand-new report, laying out their top 3 dividend bets for 2019.

Hint: These are 3 shares you’ve probably never come across before.

They’re not the banks. Not Woolies or Wesfarmers or any of the “usual suspects.”

We think these 3 shares offer solid growth prospects over the next 12 months. The first two currently offer fat, fully franked yields. The last is a surprising REIT offering you the benefits of being a landlord with none of the hassle! You’ll discover all three names and codes in "The Motley Fool’s Top 3 Dividend Shares for 2019."

Even better, your copy is free when you click the link below. Fair warning: This report is brand new and may not be available forever. Click the link below to be among the first investors to get access to this timely, important new research!

The names of these top 3 dividend bets are all included. But you will have to hurry. Depending on demand – and how quickly the share prices of these companies move – we may be forced to remove this report.

Click here to claim your free copy right now!

Motley Fool contributor Tristan Harrison has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of National Australia Bank Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

NEW. Five Cheap and Good Stocks to Buy in 2019…

Our Motley Fool experts have just released a brand new FREE report, detailing 5 dirt cheap shares that you can buy today.

One stock is an Australian internet darling with a rock solid reputation and an exciting new business line that promises years (or even decades) of growth… while trading at an ultra-low price…

Another is a diversified conglomerate trading near a 52-week low all while offering a 2.8% fully franked yield…

Plus 3 more cheap bets that could position you to profit over the next 12 months!

See for yourself now. Simply click the link below to scoop up your FREE copy and discover all 5 shares. But you will want to hurry – this free report is available for a brief time only.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE REPORT!