Unemployment reaches four-year high of 5.8%; Sigma Pharmaceuticals profits fall: Midday Roundup

The unemployment rate has reached a four-year high of 5.8%, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The figures show the total number of jobs fell by 10,800 to a seasonally adjusted 11.64 million, compared to the downwardly revised 11.65 million from July.

Full-time employment fell by 2600 to 8.13 million in August, while part-time employment was down 8200 to 3.51 million.

The participation rate fell from 65.1% to 65%.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals profits fall

Sigma Pharmaceuticals Group has seen its first-half profits fall 38%, reflecting its share buy-back activity and movements in working capital.

The drugs distributor posted a net profit of $16.3 million for the six months to July 31 and its sales revenue was up 3% to $1.46 billion.

The company is giving a fully franked interim dividend of two cents a share.

“Sigma has delivered a solid performance in a difficult trading environment with PBS growth virtually non-existent and retail conditions subdued,” Sigma chief executive Mark Hooper said in a statement.

Sigma chairman Brian Jamieson said in a statement it expects a stronger result in the second half.

“The company has enhanced its market share, which is a strategically important outcome given the flat PBS growth confronting the whole industry,” he said.

Shares rise, but dollar hits after unemployment

The Australian sharemarket has opened slightly higher this morning, although the dollar has taken a hit to US92c after official unemployment figures showed a rise to 5.8%.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 1.3 points or 0% to 5235.7 at 12.00 AEST, while in the United States the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.9% or 135 points to 15,326.6.


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