Unemployment falls to 5.5%: Midday roundup

The unemployment rate fell in March, beating expectations, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the number of jobs in Australia increased by a seasonally adjusted 0.1% to 11,663,200.

The move means the unemployment rate dropped from 5.6% to 5.5%.

The participation rate also rose to 65.3% from 65.1%, despite expectations the figure would hold steady from the previous month.

NAB cash profit rises in first half


National Australia Bank has announced a 3.1% increase in cash profit for the first half of the year to $2.915 billion.

The company said net profit during the same period rose by 22.8% to $2.052 billion in the first half of the year.

Chief executive Cameron Clyne said in a statement the company has continued to perform due to growth in the Australian and New Zealand businesses.

“Personal banking again delivered a good result, further strengthening its position in housing lending and customer deposits as the business continued to build on its differentiated customer proposition,” he said.

“Wholesale banking was also a key contributor to the group’s positive result as it increased cross-sell to the group’s customers.”

“Business banking maintained its market leading position in business lending and the Wealth Investments business also performed well with stronger client acquisition.”


Billabong extends takeover talks

Surfwear group Billabong has requested an extension of its trading halt as it continues talks with suitor Sycamore Partners.

The company said in a statement this morning it has requested the trading suspension should remain until an announcement is made.

Shares flat on mixed offshore markets

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat this morning following a mixed lead from offshore markets.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 1.8 points or 0% to 5,201 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 48.9 points or 0.3% to 15,105.



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