Unemployment rises to 5.4% in December: Midday roundup

The unemployment rate rose during December in line with economists’ expectations, according to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The data shows Australia lost 5,500 jobs during the month, although analysts had expected that fall to total 10,000.

Full-time employment fell by 13,800, while part-time employment rose by 8,300.

The unemployment rate now sits at 5.4%, up from the 5.2% recorded in November.

Qantas, Emirates deal scores ACCC approval

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has granted interim approval to a proposed alliance between Qantas and Emirates.

In a statement, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the public benefits were likely to outweigh any detriment.

“In most regions, this detriment is likely to be mitigated by a number of factors, including continued competition from a number of established airlines,” he said.

Santos increases full-year production

Santos has recorded a significant rise in production and revenue for the 2012 calendar year, it announced this morning.

In the year to December 31, Santos said total production was 52.1 million barrels of oil equivalent, up by 10% from the previous year.

Revenue in the December quarter was $876 million, up by 8% from the September quarter and 2% from the previous corresponding period. The company said it expects 2013 production to beat the 52.1 million result from 2012, aiming for 53 to 57 million.

Greens split over Whitehaven hoax

The Greens are split over the hoax that wiped a reported $300 million from the sharemarket value of Whitehaven Coal.

Greens leader Christine Milne said the fake press release was part of a long history of civil disobedience, but another senator, Sarah Hanson-Young, said she wouldn’t encourage similar action.

“I understand why it was taken,” she told Sky News. “I understand the frustrations but don’t encourage others to do it.”

Australian shares hit 20-month high

Investors are smiling this morning as the Australian sharemarket hit a 20-month high at open and is continuing to rise.

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was at 4774.3 at 11:50 AEST, up 35.9 points.

Banks, consumer staples and energy companies continued to perform well, but iron ore prices continued to drop.

The shares opened high despite a weak lead from the United States, where the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 23.66 points or 0.17%.



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