Unemployment rate records unexpected fall to 4.9%: Midday roundup

The unemployment rate has recorded an unexpected fall to 4.9%, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the total number of jobs grew by 15,500 or 0.1% to 11,501,000 during the month.

Economists had expected the unemployment rate would rise to 5.3%, following a March result of a jump of 44,000 jobs, according to an AAP survey.

Part-time employment led the fall in the rate, with jobs rising by 26,000 to 3,438,200. Full-time employment dropped by 10,500 or 0.1% to 8,052,800.

The participation rate has also decreased 0.1 percentage points to 65.2%.

NAB statutory profit falls 15.5% in first half

NAB’s statutory profit fell by 15.5% to $2.05 billion in the first six months of the financial year, as the bank says it continues to deal with the poor global economic outlook.

“This was a solid result, particularly considering the increasingly difficult operating conditions for UK banking during the period,” NAB said in a statement.

“Challenging economic conditions, subdued credit growth, and a full regulatory agenda presented challenges across the industry and the group.”

NAB said revenue rose 3.5% to $9.1 billion, up from $8.8 billion, while cash profit for the six months was up 6% on the previous year to $2.83 billion.

News Corp profit rises 47%

News Corp announced this morning its net income rose 47% in the quarter ending March 31 due to substantial growth in its cable television networks.

The media giant also said it would double the size of its share buyback program to $US10 billion.

While the company took a $63 million charge related to the investigations into the UK phone hacking scandals, the company said it had delivered a good result and that it was pleased with the outcome.

The company’s operating profit in the publishing category rose to $130 million, up from $36 million year ago.

“With our disciplined approach to monetising our brands, I believe we are better situated than ever to capitalise on the increasing global demand for our superior content,” chairman Rupert Murdoch said in a statement.

Shares flat after weak overseas lead caused by euro fears

The Australian sharemarket has opened flat this morning following a weak night on overseas markets, as fears over the eurozone crisis continue to permeate the industry.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up six points or 0.1% to 4281.1, while the Australian dollar gained some ground to $US1.01c.

In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 97 points or 0.8%.

Greece to get bailout loans

Greece will receive €5.2 billion ($A6.72 billion) in bailout loans on Thursday despite rising uncertainty over the country’s political future, the European Commission says.

“The payout will take place because it has already been approved,” Amadeu Altafaj, spokesman for European Union economy commissioner Olli Rehn, told AFP.

Athens was also warned by Luxembourg on future loans as Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said money would not be forthcoming unless Greece installed a stable government.



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