Unemployment hits 10-year high; David Jones reports sales lift: Midday Roundup

Australia’s unemployment rate has risen to 6%, a 10-year high, in line with economist’s predictions.

The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics reveal the unemployment rate rose 0.1% in January, seasonally adjusted.

This is the highest level of unemployment since July 2003.

The number of people employed decreased by 3700 to 11,459,500 last month. A decrease in full-time employment by 7100 people drove the change, while this loss was partially offset by a rise in part-time employment.

The total number of unemployed people reached 728,600.

The labour force participation rate was unchanged at 64.5%.

David Jones reports sales lift

Department store David Jones has this morning reported a 4.7% increase in sales in the second quarter, with total sales revenue reaching $618.1 million.

At the same time, chief executive Paul Zahra said during the company’s sales update that he had not resigned from David Jones.

“I’ve not resigned and I’m committed to working with the board to ensure the best outcome for shareholders and the company,” he says, as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.

David Jones like-for-like sales lifted 2.1% in the quarter it achieved 150% growth in its online sales.

“We were pleased to see growth in both foot traffic and basket size this quarter which enabled us to return positive LFL Sales growth,” Zahra said in a statement to the ASX.

“Whilst the sales growth experience by the Company in 2Q14 was pleasing we did experience aggressive discounting in the market pre-Christmas, in particular womenswear. We expect this aggressive discounting to continue in 2H14.”

Optus profits hike

Optus has reported a 41.4% rise in its year-on-year net profit to$227 million, despite a 5% decline in revenue for the quarter ending December 31, 2013.

The mobile phone operator, which is part of the Singapore Telecommunications Group, reported a 9% growth in EBITA to $628 million for the period compared to the same time last year.

Optus Australia country chief officer Kevin Russell said Optus had made progress in delivering sustainable profit growth and improving customer experience.

“Optus is making real progress, increasing its leadership over key competitors in customer advocacy,” he said.

It reported that in the quarter it had bought 120 franchised stores back under Optus ownership and fitted out 57 new-look stores.

Shares steady on open

Aussie shares have opened flat, despite losses on Wall Street overnight.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark was up 2.1 points to 5312.2 at 12:13pm AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones lost 30.83 points, down 0.19% to 15,963.94.

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