3:00AM New York, 7:00PM Sydney- New Zealand unemployment rate increases to 4.6% in December quarter. Macquarie''s profit to halve to A$900 million in the current full year.
Australian market averages fell as outlook on earnings at more companies get dimmer. Commodities and crude oil prices gained.
China, which is the world''s largest consumer of minerals today took measures to cut duties on imports to sustain the demand.
trading ASX 200 index fell 0.3% or 9.3 to 3,428.60.
Of the ASX 200 index stocks, 62 increased, 121 declined, and 17 were unchanged. Mount Gibson Iron led gainers in the index shares with a rise of 15.3% as metal prices increased. Gold prices gained $9.7 to $902 per ounce.
Other commodity stocks increased. Rio Tinto jumped 7.1% and Arrow Energy climbed 6.5%.
New Zealand Unemployment Rate 4.6%
Statistics New Zealand reported today that the number of people unemployed increased by 10,000 and the unemployment rate advanced to 4.6% in the three months to December.
The unemployment rate increased 0.6 percentage point from the September quarter, with the female unemployment rate gaining by 0.6 percentage points to 4.7% and the male unemployment rate rising by 0.2 percentage points to 4.4%.
Number of people unemployed rose the most since September 2002, rising by 10.8% to 105,000 in the December quarter.
However, the number of people employed increased by 0.9% or 21,000 in the three months to December 2008 from the previous quarter leveraged by increasing male part-time employment.
Employment growth has been concentrated in service-based industries, especially education, and transport, storage and communications in the last twelve months.
Conversely, employment levels dropped in agriculture, construction and manufacturing industries.
The report also notes that the total actual hours worked per week fell by 1.9% over the December 2008 quarter.
Macquarie Forecasts Full Year Profit to Drop to A$900 million
Macquarie Group reported today in its operational update that it anticipates that full year profit in the fiscal year ending March 2009 will decline to A$900 million on A$900 million in write-downs and impairment charges in the second half of the year.
Operating income is also forecasted to drop 15%.
Macquarie managing director and chief executive officer Nicholas Moore said the lender''s finances are sound for the medium term.
Gainers & Losers
Mount Gibson Iron led advancers in the ASX 200 index shares with a rise of 15.3% followed by increases in HFA Holdings of 12.5%, in Fortescue Metals of 9.5%, in Origin Energy of 8.11%, and Mincor Resources of 7.4%.
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