Unemployment hits 5.8%; Business expectations lifting; Vodafone chief Bill Morrow to head NBN: Midday Roundup

Unemployment has hit 5.8% in November, an increase of 0.1% according to Australian Bureau of Statistics released today.

The number of employed people increased by 21,000 to 11.7 million thanks to a 15,000 person increase in full-time workers, which total 8.1 million people.

But the number of unemployed people also increased by 3400 to 712,500 in November, in line with economists’ expectations.

The labour force participation rate was steady at 64.8%, ABS figures showed.

Business expectations lifting

Business sentiment is continuing to grow, albeit slower, as indicators of business activity are firming.

The latest Australian Competition and Consumer Commission-Westpac survey found general business expectations are the strongest they’ve been in almost three years.

The employment outlook has also improved, alongside demand and production indicators.

The new order and output indicators strengthened significantly in the last quarter, rising from -4% to 32% and from 0% to 20%, respectively.

Profitability expectation for the next 12 months have also continued to firm, but manufacturers are said to still be struggling to pass on costs of high wages to consumers.

ACCI chief executive Peter Anderson said in a statement the improvement in general business expectations is “welcome news”.

“Based on these results, an appetite exists within the private sector to take steps to increase activity in 2014, but the external environment needs to trigger that firming sentiment,” he says.

Vodafone chief Bill Morrow to head NBN

Vodafone chief executive Bill Morrow has been given the top job as the new head of the NBN Co.

The appointment was announced this morning by NBN Co and follows a strategic review of the NBN which is expected to highlight cost blowouts and fewer than expected premise connections.

“While I am sad to be leaving a great company like Vodafone, I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and ensuring every Australian is able to benefit from a world class National Broadband Network,” Morrow said in a statement.

Shares drop on open

Aussie shares have fallen on open, following falls on Wall Street overnight.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark fell 29 points to 5075.2 at 11.29am AEDT. Overnight the Dow Jones dropped 129.6 points, down 0.81% to 15,843.53.

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