Job ads fall again, Coke rejects Lion Nathan deal, shares gain ground: Economy roundup

Job advertisements fell by 6.3% in January, heightening fears that unemployment is set to jump sharply.

 

The latest ANZ jobs advertisement data shows job ads in major metropolitan newspapers actually rose 12.3% in January, but remain 40.7% lower than this time last year. Internet job advertisements dropped by 7.3% and are now 33.2% lower than a year ago.

ANZ head of Australian economics Warren Hogan says while the increase in newspaper job advertisements is a good sign, the overall trends indicate unemployment is about to rise.

“Overall job advertising remains weak and is consistent with a rising trend for unemployment over the year ahead. ANZ expects unemployment to breach 6% in 2009 before eventually peaking at around 7% in 2010.”

Coke and Lion Nathan deal fizzes out

Meanwhile, beverage giants Coca-Cola Amatil and Lion Nathan have abandoned merger discussions after CCA’s major shareholder, the US based Coca-Cola Company, rejected a $7 billion proposal.

The Coca-Cola Company, which owns 30% of Coca-Cola Amatil, has announced an end to the discussions in a letter to Lion Nathan’s largest shareholder the Kirin Holdings Company.

Lion Nathan chief executive Rob Murray said the outcome is disappointing. “We made a very attractive offer at a 30% premium in one of the most challenging financial markets in decades,” he said.

Coca-Cola Amatil shares dropped 11.4% to $8.28.

Shares rise

The Australian sharemarket opened 1.4% higher today after positive leads from Wall Street late last week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 46.4 points or 1.34% to 3516.3 at 12.25 AESDT. The dollar continues to rise and is up to US67 cents.

NAB shares were up 2.3% to $18.93 while BHP Billiton gained 3.8% to $33.44. Westpac rose 1% to $16.66, as Commonwealth Bank shares gained 0.9% to $29.98.

Shares in printing company PMP have fallen slightly this morning after the company announced it will close print sites in Queensland and South Australia, with the loss of 76 jobs.

Bushfire fallout

Insurance Australia Group shares have dropped 9.8% to $3.23 after it said it is still too early to estimate the cost of the bushfire damage in Victoria.

“IAG is not yet in a position to provide an estimate of the cost of the fires as customers continue to lodge claims,” the company said.

“IAG extends its deepest sympathy to those people in Victoria who have been tragically affected by the bushfires,” chief executive Michael Wilkins said.

In Canberra, work on the Government’s $42 billion stimulus package has come to a halt as the Victorian bushfires continue to ravage the state.

Stimulus inquiry continues

The Senate inquiry into the stimulus package has been adjourned until 16.00 AESDT out of respect to the bushfire victims.

Meanwhile, Centrelink is distributing cash payments of $1000 to victims of the bushfires from a fund announced by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday.

Overseas, US President Barack Obama is busy with his own stimulus package, urging Senate Republicans to quickly help pass the $US800 billion legislation.

Obama says in order to avoid financial catastrophe, the legislation must be passed quickly and without hindrance. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi expects a resolution by 16 February, with a Senate vote scheduled for tomorrow.

However, Senators are still arguing the mechanics of the bill, with much of the debate centered on infrastructure projects and the bill’s impact on the national debt.

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