Sharemarket surges, job ads plunge, manufacturers struggle: Economy roundup

Australian markets have enjoyed a healthy start to the week, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index jumping 107.9 points or 2.7% to 4125.9 at 12.15pm AEST.

Australian markets have enjoyed a healthy start to the week, with the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index jumping 107.9 points or 2.7% to 4125.9 at 12.15pm AEST.

The big winner of the morning was News Corporation, which jumped 7.5% in early trade. Elsewhere AMP enjoyed a 2.8% rise, while ANZ bank increased by 3.6% and BHP Billiton leapt 3.1%.

Shares might be up, but the poor economic news continues. According to data from ANZ, the number of job advertisements in newspapers and on the internet fell by 5.9% in October, following a decline in September of 1.4%. The total number of advertisements was 9.8% lower than October 2007.

Newspaper advertisements decreased by 12.2% to an average of 13,350, while internet advertisements fell 5.5% to a weekly average of 217,785.

ANZ says the results lead it to expect a 0.5% drop in the official cash rate when the Reserve Bank of Australia meets tomorrow.

But the financial crisis hasn’t stopped shoppers spending quite yet, with the Australian Bureau of Statistics reporting retail sales increased 0.2% in September.

It was the fourth consecutive month sales had increased by 0.2%, as retail turnover hit $18.35 million in September.

Food retailing has seen the largest increase at 0.6%, while clothing and soft goods retail sales grew by 0.3%. Department stores and cafes, restaurants and takeaway sales all increased by 0.2%.

NSW was the only state to experience a decrease in retail sales, with turnover down 0.3%, while the Northern Territory saw the largest growth at 0.9%.

Meanwhile, the Australian Industry Group/PricewaterhouseCoopers Australian Performance and Manufacturing index has suffered a big drop in October of 6.8 points to 40.4 – the lowest level recorded in 16 years.

The index reveals production has fallen for a fifth consecutive month in all states, which AIG attributes to a dramatic lack of confidence in the sector.

PricewaterhouseCoopers global leader of industrial manufacturing Graeme Billings says: “The short-term outlook for manufacturing remains bleak.”

The Aussie dollar managed to clear US67c overnight, reaching US67.26c by 3.20am AEST. But it fell back slightly this morning to US66.99c.

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