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Market Update

Australian Unemployment Rate Jumps to 10-Year High, Telstra Hikes Dividend

Author: Marcus Jacob
Last Update: 11:02 AM ET February 13 2014

4:30 PM Sydney Australian market indexes reversed earlier gains after the jobless rate in January reached a decade high to 6% and surpassed the previous high of 5.9% in June 2009. Telstra hiked dividend and reported gains in wireless segment. David Jones quarterly sales increased 4.7%.

Stocks reversed earlier gains after the release of employment data and jobless rate rose to a 10-year high.

Australian Bureau of Statistics said January rate of unemployment increased to 6% from 5.8% in December as mining industry cuts investments in new projects

Full-time employment in the month declined 7,100 and part-time employment increased 3,400. Total number of people with jobs fell 3,700 after the count fell 23,000 in December.

The total monthly hours worked increased 1.3% to 1.64 billion and labor participation rate was steady at 64.5%.

The unemployment rate surpassed the 5.9% reached in June 2009.

Australian dollar dropped to 89.35 U.S. cents and in stock market trading turnover declined to 777 million shares worth $4.3 billion.

The ASX 200 index slid 2 to 5,308.10 and the broader All Ordinaries fell 1.10 to 5,318.70.

Stocks in Review

Forge Group Limited will be removed from the Australian Securities Exchange at the close of the day after the company lost its credit line with ANZ and the mining service company said it plans to lay off 1,300 employees from its Queensland and West Australian mining operations.

Rio Tinto fell 30 cents to $67.83 after the mining company reported revenue in the year ending in December rose 0.6% to $51.2 billion from $50.9 billion a year ago.

Net in the year swung to a profit $3.66 billion compared to a loss of $3.03 billion and diluted earnings per share swung to a $1.97 from a loss of $1.64 a year earlier.

The company said underlying earnings in the year climbed 10% to $10.2 billion and at the end of the year ending in December net debt fell to $18.1 billion.

Rio also plans to reduce capital spending to about $8 billion in 2015.

Rio Tinto signed an agreement with LNG Canada to acquire a wharf land at its port facility at Kitimat and the company did not disclose financial terms.

BHP rose 12 cents to $37.32. Woodside Petroleum Limited jumped 50 cents to $38.58.

Westpac slid 6 cents to $32.44.

David Jones Limited slipped 0.9% to $3.11 after the luxury retailer reported total sales in the second quarter ending on January 25 climbed 4.7% to $618 million and comparable sales jumped 2.1% while online sale surged 150%.

Transurban Group rose 0.1% to $6.83 after the toll roads operator said toll revenue in the year jumped 4.7% to $801.2 million and net profit in the year surged 200% to $174.5 million a year ago.

Telstra Corporation Ltd increased 0.8% to $.15 after the communications service provider reported revenue in the first-half ending in December grew 3% to $12.98 billion from $12.60 billion a year earlier.

Net profit in the year climbed 9.2% to $1.7 billion compared to $1.56 billion a year ago and increased its dividend to 14.5 cents and 1.4 million shareholders are expected to receive $1.8 billion in dividend.

Revenues in the mobile division increased 6.4% to $4.86 billion and the telecom company added net 739,000 new subscribers in the period totaling to 15.8 million customers.

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Sources: Data collected by 123jump.com and Ticker.com from company press releases, filings and corporate websites. Market data: BATS Exchange. Inc