Thursday, March 8, 2012

Surprise jobs fall put rates cut back on agenda

The number of Australians in jobs fell unexpectedly last month, putting new pressure on the Reserve Bank to cut interest rates.

More than 15,000 jobs disappeared in February, pushing the unemployment rate up to 5.2 percent.

Full time employment was flat, despite expectations  that the economy was picking up.

Listen to my analysis broadcast on The World Today.

Here's the breakdown from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Bureau of Statistics figures show 15,400 part-time jobs disappeared last month, while the number of full-time jobs remained steady at 8.1 million, taking the total number of people employed to 11.4 million.

Economists had expected 5,000 jobs to be created in the month.

The participation rate - which is the number of people at work or seeking work - fell to 65.2 per cent, from a rate of 65.3 per cent in January, yet the amount of time people spent at work increased by 21.6 million hours.

The male unemployment rate rose 0.2 per cent to 5.1 per cent, while the female jobless rate edged 0.1 per cent higher to 5.4 per cent.

Around the country, Western Australia was the only state to see a fall in the jobless rate, down 0.1 per cent to 4 per cent.

Unemployment rose sharply in Queensland (from 5.4 per cent to 5.7 per cent) and Tasmania (up 0.3 per cent to 7 per cent in trend terms), while it also rose in Victoria (up 0.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent), South Australia (5.2 per cent) and the Northern Territory (4.3 per cent).

And it was steady in the ACT (3.6 per cent in trend terms) and New South Wales (5.2 per cent).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Disappointing growth puts pressure on surplus projections and raises prospect of more rate cuts

The Australian economy grew at a slower pace than expected last year, national accounts figures show.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show gross domestic product growth of 2.3 per cent last year on a seasonally adjusted basis, which was slightly less than expected.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan acknowledged the result was "somewhat softer" than anticipated and reflected "patchiness" in an economy that was going through structural change.

In the final quarter of the year the economy expanded 0.4 per cent, following expansion of 0.8 per cent in the previous quarter, downwardly revised.

Economists had been expecting much stronger growth of 0.8 per cent for the period.

Global stocks fall as Greece bailout threatens to unravel

Global stocks have fallen on renewed concerns that the latest bailout plan for Greece could unravel by the end of the week.

European markets ended around three percent lower and Wall Street closed 1.5 percent weaker.

The Australian sharemarket followed the lead with the All Ordinaries Index opening one percent in the red.

Investors are also on edge about falling commodity prices and wider evidence that the world's economy is slowing.

Here's my analysis from this morning's edition of AM.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

China growth cut unlikely to hurt mining boom - yet

Economists say China's revised growth forecast of 7.5 per cent is unlikely to hurt commodity prices or tame the resources boom.

However, there are concerns that a more acute slowdown could add to concerns about the global economy

Analysts are watching the calibration of China's economy closely, but the government is sending the message that resources boom mark 2 is still on track.

Here's my analysis broadcast on The World Today.


Reserve Bank holds rates at 4.25 percent; stays on the sidelines, more optimistic about Eurozone