Australian shares cut their losses and the dollar jumped as jobs numbers come in stronger than expected, despite a rise in the unemployment rate.

4.58pm: That's all here from us at blog central, thanks for being with us, we'll back tomorrow from 9.30am.

Click here for a full wrap of today's session.

4.53pm: The Australian dollar motored to a one-week high today as investors latched onto the strong points in local jobs data, even as they did nothing to dampen the prospects of further rate cuts.

The market cued off the employment number and lifted the Aussie to $US1.0276, from an early $US1.0223. Demand from European and US names was now testing stops around $US1.0280.

4.34pm: Markets across Europe are all pointing to small early losses, with futures for the EuroSTOXX50, London's FTSE, France's CAC and Germany's DAX all down between 0.1 and 0.5 per cent.

In the US, futures on the Dow Jones and S&P500 indexes are down 0.04 and 0.06 per cent respectively.

4.20pm: Materials led the losses, dropping 0.9 per cent, IT also fell 0.9 per cent. Energy lost 0.2 per cent and consumer staples were down 0.3 per cent. Telecommunications added 0.5 per cent, health jumped 0.4 per cent and financials rose 0.2 per cent.

4.14pm: The market has closed marginally lower, clawing back early losses on the back of ABS jobs data. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 lost 7.2 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4483.5, while the broader All Ords fell 6.7 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4505.2.

3.54pm: Here's something interesting for the small business desk: 

Fed up with 'cell yell' and poor etiquette, some traders are so fed up they're banning mobile phone use on their premises. 

Click here for the full story.

3.40pm: LG Electronics is developing a Nexus smartphone for Google, becoming the third manufacturer to build phones for the US company, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The device, to be shown this month, is based on LG’s Optimus G model, said the person, who declined to be identified because the project isn’t public.

3.33pm: China has raised its planned railway investment by 20 billion yuan to 630 billion yuan for 2012, the Ministry of Railways said, marking a third such increase this year as part of steps to support the slowing economy.

The revised spending plan would be 3.3 percent higher than an initial 610 billion yuan tally announced last month, according to a bond prospectus published on www.chinabond.com.cn, the government's bond issuance website.

3.24pm: With just a short while to go before the close of trade, here's how markets around the region are performing:

  • Nikkei(Japan): -0.5%
  • Shanghai: -0.3%
  • Taiwan: -1.7%
  • South Korea: -0.4%
  • Singapore: -0.2%
  • New Zealand: -0.1%

3.10pm: CommSec chief economist Craig James had some interesting comments on jobs data:

  • The figures shouldn’t be taken literally. The data is volatile from month to month and there is a fair margin for error. So the trend remains your friend. And the trend figures suggest that the job market is largely flat with the unemployment rate generally holding in a 5.1-5.3 per cent range. Certainly there are a number of employers that are cutting costs and thus shedding jobs. Other employers are sitting tight. And still others, especially in hospitality, health and resources, are crying out for staff.
  • It would be wrong to conclude from the latest data that hiring is going gangbusters. And it would be wrong to conclude that unemployment is soaring. In a big picture sense the job market is in a holding pattern.
  • The real surprise is that the 5.4 per cent jobless rate is actually a 2½-year high. It just highlights the extent that the job market has been in a holding pattern with unemployment in a tight 5.1-5.3 per cent range.
  • The latest job figures provide more complications for Reserve Bank. A surge in both job growth and the unemployment rate in the same month make it more difficult to know what the true situation is. But looking across a raft of indicators, the best appraisal is that the economy is in a holding pattern. As such, rate cuts still remain on the agenda, but the size of job growth in the latest month does make it harder for the Reserve Bank to justify a rate cut in November.

2.58pm: The head of the International Monetary Fund wants urgent action to tackle Europe’s debt problems and an approaching fiscal crisis in the US.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde, addressing reporters as the IMF and World Bank began their annual meetings in Tokyo on Thursday, praised action by the European Central Bank and European governments, but said ‘‘more needs to happen, and faster’’.

Lagarde said two senior Chinese finance officials who cancelled their trip to Tokyo amid a territorial dispute with host Japan would ‘‘lose out’’ by not attending.

‘‘Our concern is that they will be missing a great meeting,’’ she said. ‘‘We have a lot of substantive issues to discuss.’’

2.42pm: And the ASX200 hits the black, if only briefly. Gains in the financials sector - up 0.4 per cent - are being offset by losses among materials - down 0.8 per cent. Some numbers:

  • BHP: -0.5%
  • Rio: -0.5%
  • ANZ: +0.8%
  • CBA: +0.2%
  • NAB: +0.4%
  • Westpac: +0.5%

And then there's Telstra, up 0.8 per cent, doing its bit to keep the market afloat.

2.32pm: A timely contribution from our Money team: Have you been made redundant recently? We've got some interesting comments coming in on this story. Log on and share your own experiences.

Here's the full story

2.18pm: Neither the dollar nor the sharemarket have lost any of their momentum after the surprise rise in new jobs.

The dollar just touched the day's high of $US1.0280, up more than half a cents since the jobs data was published at 11.30am. It's also buying 80.2 yen and 79.9 euro cents.

And the ASX200 is about to break even for the day, down just 0.02 per cent - not a bad run, considering it chalked up a loss of 0.7 per cent this morning.

2.00pm: BP and the US Justice Department are close to a broad deal that would release the company from additional civil and criminal liabilities arising out of 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

BP in March reached an estimated $7.8 billion deal to resolve its liability with plaintiffs, a wide-ranging group that represents condominium owners, fishermen, hoteliers, restaurant owners and others who say their livelihood was damaged by the spill.

A settlement with the Justice Department would resolve BP's biggest remaining liability from the rig explosion that killed 11 workers and led to the worst offshore oil spill in US history.

BP could be liable for between $5.4 billion and $21 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act alone, depending on whether it were found to be grossly negligent, which it has denied, the paper said.

1.51pm: The dollar has benefited from the ABS's jobs data, released earlier today. Take a look at this graph and you can see the exact moment the market began to react to the announcement.

1.40pm: BusinessDay's Michael Evans has weighed in on the ACCC blocking Seven's bid for ConsMedia: Media moguls biding their time.

The competition regulator’s decision to block Kerry Stokes’s Seven Group Holdings’s bid to have a crack at James Packer’s Consolidated Media tells us several things that point towards another repositioning of media power in this country.

At first blush it tells us Stokes’s near two-decade battle for a foot in the pay television industry appears over.

Having spent millions fighting in court over the remnants of the failed C7 venture, Stokes won a seat at the table with a daring raid on Packer’s ConsMedia several years ago.

While many thought the logical outcome was that the pair would eventually take ConsMedia private, Stokes may not have counted on Packer’s willingness to sell.AdvertisementNor Rupert Murdoch’s willingness to buy.

With the ACCC blocking a Stokes counter bid, his pay TV mission appears over.

1.29pm: New debit and credit card data from the Commonwealth Bank suggests that while overall e-commerce in Australia is still growing at a substantially faster rate than traditional bricks-and-mortar retail, mainstream retailers are beginning to bare their fangs and bite back. 

Click here for the full story.

1.20pm: In the US, JPMorgan Chase's Chief Financial Officer might step down and take another post within the company, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people close to the company.

The paper's sources said that although it isn't clear where Douglas Braunstein might end up, there was a possibility he could move to J.P. Morgan's recently combined corporate and investment bank.

1.05pm: BusinessDay's Michael Pascoe has filed jobs figures: Jobless rate jump - did the RBA know?

The first question that might spring to mind upon reading that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate jumped to 5.4 per cent last month is: Did the RBA already know when it cut rates last week?

The second question might be: how credible are the inevitable scary headlines generated by the number given the apparent contradictions within today’s statistics?

Just dealing with the flighty seasonally adjusted figures first (only because they’re the ones most of the commentary runs on), the immediate paradox is a sharp rise in the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed (38,800) despite a lift in aggregate hours worked, a strong rise in full-time employment of 32,100 and a not-too-shabby increase in overall employment of 14,500.

The easy answer is a 0.2 rise in the participation rate to 65.2 per cent, but that’s just a mathematical outcome. Noting that the labour force jumped by 53,400 last month begins to tell us something more.

12.45pm: And while we're overseas, here's how the region's major sharemarkets are doing:

  • Japan (Nikkei): -0.3%
  • Hong Kong: -0.3%
  • Shanghai: -0.3%
  • Taiwan: -1.35%
  • Korea: -0.1%
  • Singapore: -0.1%
  • New Zealand: -0.1%

12.42pm: Looking overseas: the Bank of Korea has cut its benchmark 7-day repo rate by 25bps to 2.75 per cent.

The rationale for BOK’s decision was clear, ANZ says: "Inflation has been at or below the authorities’ inflation target band of 2% to 4% in recent months.

"The economy is currently running below its potential level and output growth is expected to remain below trend for the next few quarters. As such, inflation pressures are highly likely to remain contained."

12.32pm: And talking CommSec, here's a pretty balanced view of today's jobs numbers by chief economist Craig James:

  • When you have a surge in employment growth and the unemployment rate in the space of one month, it adds complications in terms of understanding what’s happening to the economy.
  • It’s a very mixed picture - there are some sectors which are still crying out for staff, in hospitality, resources and healthcare. But there are other sectors where they’re looking to shed jobs.
  • The clear message is that the job market’s not as bad as a lot of people had feared.
  • The latest job figures provide more complications for the Reserve Bank. A surge in both job growth and the unemployment rate in the same month makes it more difficult to know what the true situation is.

12.18pm: While most in the stockbroking industry are struggling under the slowdown in equity markets, online specialist CommSec has managed to boost profits by 35 per cent.

The profit hike comes as most full service stock brokers are struggling to turn a profit while investors steer clear of choppy markets.

Even with the profit lift, it's not all smooth sailing for CommSec, with the broker revealing it has been forced to write down some $137 million over the past two years from the value of recent acquisitions.

CommSec posted a profit of $78.8 million for the year to end-June, this was up from $58.3 million the same time a year earlier.But the signs of market stresses could be seen with CommSec’s brokerage revenue slumping 30 per cent to $142.9 million.

12.04pm: Here's more economists trying to make sense of today's employment numbers, which has seen a surprisingly large rise in the number of jobs created accompanied by a larger than expected jump in the jobless rate:

RBC Capital Markets senior economist Su-Lin Ong:

  • It's the unemployment rate that best captures the underlying health of the labour market, it's broken out of this 5 to 5.3 per cent range, which it's been in for some time. At 5.4 per cent it's the highest since the early part of 2010.
  • Part of it is the higher participation, but what's really driving it is the rise in unemployed persons in the month, and that's consistent with a reasonably soft labour market, and the leads are pointing to further softness consistent with the waning in growth momentum.

CBA chief economist Michael Blythe:

  • It doesn't make the story any clearer, with a decent rise in employment, but unemployment up as well. The overall impression when we smooth all these trends out is it's still a pretty soft labour market.
  • It's still a case of easing bias here. The Reserve Bank still expects unemployment to rise. They obviously interpret the labour market now as soft as they've said.
  • Given some of the global concerns that are still playing out the risks still point to lower rates. We think we'll see another move (down) in November."

Citi head of economy Paul Brennan

  • It's broadly consistent with what we were thinking that last month's figures understated the unemployment rate. It's good there has been an increase in employment, but the reality is that it's not enough to keep unemployment steady.
  • It's all pretty consistent with the fact the economy has slowed a bit, below potential growth, and that's affecting in a higher unemployment rate.
  • The expectation is it will rise a bit further yet before the interest rate cuts kick in.

11.58am: Moving away from jobs for a minute: shares in rare earths miner Lynas have plummeted as much as 20 per cent (currently down 15%) after a Malaysian Court delayed the start of production at its plant to consider an application by opponents.

Lynas had planned to finally begin operations at the rare earths processing plant this month, following a long saga, but will now wait until at least November after the Kuantan High Court extended an interim stay on the licence.

Environmental activists and local residents oppose the plant on the grounds that it will produce radioactive pollution that will seep into ground and water.

11.53am: Interesting that while the market is giving the jobs data a thumbs-up, most economists see them as further proof the economy is slowing and the RBA will need to cut rates ASAP. Here are some tweets:

absolutely nothing in Sept jobs report that will dissuade RBA from a November rate cut. Indeed, December also likely if u/rate above 5.5%

- @AsiaAentry (Glenn Maguire)

Job numbers offer something for everyone. In Qld, jobless up 1pp since April. Record number of west ozs in work, topping 1.3m for first time

- @swrightwestoz (Shane Wright)

Qld unemployment rate from 5.3% to 6.3% in just 4 months! All job losses nationally accounted for by drop in employment in QLD

- @TheKouk (Stephen Koukoulas)

11.45am: Some facts on the employment figures:

  • The jobless rate of 5.4 per cent is a 30-month high
  • The total number of jobs in Australia increased by 14,500, or 0.1 per cent, to 11,511,900 in September
  • Full-time jobs up 32k while part-time fell 17,700, which is significantly better than economists were expecting - and the reason why shares and the dollar are improving

11.37am: The unemployment rate is telling you that the labour marketing is clearly softening, says RBC Capital Market senior economist Su-Lin Ong:

  • We think the unemployment rate will hit 5.5 per cent by year's end.
  • The rise in jobless justifies the RBA's October rate cut and will probably be the basis of further rate cuts to come.

Moody's Economy.com analyst Katrina Ell says jobs growth is likely to slow further:

  • It is likely jobs growth will slow further in coming months and be a lagging indicator of how the gloomy global environment has adversely affected the Australian economy.

11.34am: The sharemarket is also reacting positively to the surprisingly large number of new jobs.

11.31am: The strong jobs creation has boosted the dollar, which has jumped to $US1.0250 on the figure.

11.30am: Jobs numbers are out: 14.500 new jobs were created in September, well exceeding predictions, but the jobless rate rose to 5.4 per cent.

11.27am: Couple of minutes now to the September jobs figures. Economists are expecting an additional 5000 jobs in the economy, but a rise in the jobless rate to 5.3 per cent to 5.1 per cent.

The dollar is hovering at $US1.0225.

11.15am: Australia Post has increased its full year profit by 17 per cent to $281 million due to strong growth in its parcel delivery and retail business.

The government owned corporation’s profit in the 2011/12 year compares with a $241 million profit in the previous year.

Australia Post’s parcels and retail operations produced a profit of $546 million, outweighing a loss of $148 million in its regulated mail business due to falling mail volumes.

Chief executive Ahmed Fahour has also announced an investment of more than $2 billion to upgrade Australia Post’s national parcel network, and provide a free digital mail box for every Australian.

11.10am: If you need a laugh, and a bit of inspiration rolled into one, check out our story and video with glamorous, 28-year-old funeral business owner Ellese Templeton.

11.07am: An hour into the trading day and the local market has climbed a little from earlier, but has yet to make up all the ground it lost at the start.

The All Ordinaries index is 21.9 points lower, or 0.5 per cent, to 4490.0, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 22.6 points lower, or 0.5 per cent, to 4468.1.

11.02am: Mineral sands miner Iluka Resources has posted a 58 per cent fall in third quarter sales revenue due to lower production and demand.

Iluka said this morning that its sales revenue in the three months to September 30 was $224.5 million, down from $532.5 million in the same period in the previous year.

Sales revenue in the nine months to September 30 of $887.3 million was down 19.5 per cent from the previous corresponding period.

Its shares fell on the update. They are now down 63 cents, or 6.5 per cent, at $9.01. 

10.57am: Australia’s two big market contributors are in negative territory at the start of trade, with the materials sector off 1.04% per cent and financial stocks down 0.4 per cent.

Rio Tinto has been the worst-performing stock on the S&P/ASX20 with BHP posting the next largest decline. Fortescue is also down:

  • Rio Tinto is 1.29% lower at $55.11
  • BHP is 0.78% lower at $33.22
  • Fortescue is 1.56% lower at $3.78

10.55am: With the market still in negative territory, RBS Morgans Ipswich manager Tony Russell says Australian market players have been taking their cues from a weak night on Wall Street, which closed lower after Alcoa said China’s economic slowdown was hitting aluminium consumption.

‘‘Certainly, the resources [stocks] are softer on the back of weak commodity prices, precious metals prices, oil prices,’’ Mr Russell said.

10.52am: The banks are all down in the first hour this morning:

  • CBA is 0.35 lower to $56.45
  • ANZ is 0.08% lower to $25.54
  • NAB is 0.76% lower to $26.00
  • Westpac is 0.58% lower to $25.57

10.47am: More on Seven and ConsMedia. News Limited’s takeover of Consolidated Media is set to go ahead after the this morning competition regulator ruled out Seven Group's potential rival bid.

As a result of the knock-back, Seven intends to vote in favour of New's takeover of Cons Media. Cons Media’s directors have already recommended News’ $1.94 billion takeover offer, and a vote is due to be held later this month

10.45am: Shares in Seven Group Holdings have slipped after the ACCC scuttled its bid for pat TV holding company Consolidated Media.

Seven shares lost 1.6 per cent, or 11 cents, to $6.92. The broader market is down by about 0.5 per cent.

The ACCC said the deal would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competition in the market for free to air television services". More here.

10.38am: Here are the early gainers on the ASX200:

  • Medusa Mining: +2.87%
  • Resolute Mining: +1.65%
  • St Barbara: +1.56%
  • Mount Gibson Iron: +1.33%
  • Virgin Australia: +1.20%

10.34am: Brambles shares are higher in early trade after announcing earlier today that it was on track to achieve its full year financial guidance after an improved first quarter sales performance.

Brambles this morning said its sales revenue in the three months to September 30 was $US1.425 billion ($A1.40 billion), up three per cent from the same period in the previous year.
Its shares rose as much as 1.4 per cent higher to $7.25, but have since given up some of that early gain. More on the Brambles result here.

10.30am: Lynas is the heaviest loser on the ASX200 early today by a big margin. Its shares were recently down more than 19 per cent on the Malaysian high court decision mentioned in our earlier posts. Here are the other early sliders:

  • Iluka: -5.39%
  • FKP Property: -4.17%
  • Coalspur: -3.77%
  • Imdex: -3.68%
  • NRW Holdings: -3.53%

10.28am: The corporate watchdog has been busy. As well as rejecting Seven’s plans for CMH it has largely knocked back Sonic Healthcare's bid to buy Healthscope's pathology businesses across Australia.

The Australian Competition and Consumer  this morning said Sonic's bid for the Queensland business was rejected because it was ‘‘likely to have the effect of substantially lessening competition in the market for the supply for community pathology services in Queensland’’.

10.21am: More on Lynas and its share price dive. The early plunge follows the postponement of a court decision in Malaysia that Deutsche Bank says will push back first cash flows at its rare earths plant to March.

The Malaysian High Court decision extends the suspension of the company’s temporary licence until early November. Processing was expected to start at the end of this month.
Lynas  shares have fallen as much as 18.6 per cent, or 16 cents, to 70 cents.

In a note dated yesterday, Deutsche Bank analysts lowered their price target of the stock to 65 cents, down from 82 cents.  

10.19am: Here are both the sectors that have gone up, so far:

  • Info tech: +0.12%
  • Telecoms: +0.10%

10.15am: Here are the sliding sectors on the ASX200 so far this morning:

  • Materials: -1.28%
  • Energy: -0.75%
  • Consumer discretionary: -0.67%
  • Health: -0.67%
  • Consumer staples: -0.60
  • Finance: -0.43%
  • Industrials: -0.41%

10.12am: Shares in rare earths miner Lynas are down more than 18% in early trade. More soon.

10.09am: BREAKING The competition regulator has knocked back Seven Group Holdings' proposed takeover of pay TV holding company Consolidated Media, saying a deal would likely result in a "substantial lessening of competiion in the market for free-to-air television services".

“The ACCC is concerned that the proposed acquisition would put Seven Network in a position of advantage over other free to air networks in relation to joint bids and other commercial arrangements with Fox Sports for the acquisition of sports rights," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said in a statement this morning.

"Being able to come to such arrangements with Fox Sports would enhance Seven Network’s ability to acquire the rights to premium sports."

10.06am: The trading day has begun in negative territory. In early trade, the All Ordinaries index is 14.9 points lower, or 0.3per cent, to 4497.0, while the benchmark S&P/ASX200 is 15.6 points lower, or 0.3 per cent, to 4475.1.

9.54am: Standard & Poor’s is downgrading Spain’s credit rating two notches to agency’s lowest investment-grade level.

S&P says it is lowering its rating on debt issued by Spain from BBB+ to BBB-.

It also assigned a negative outlook to the rating, meaning it could be further downgraded. S&P on Wednesday cited Spain’s economic recession, high unemployment and social unrest. It said those factors were limiting the government’s policy options.

9.51am: In corporate news this morning, pallet supplier Brambles said it was on track to achieve its full year financial guidance after an improved first quarter sales performance.

Brambles said its sales revenue in the three months to September 30 was $US1.425 billion ($A1.40 billion), up three per cent from the same period in the previous year.

Revenue growth was a result of new business growth in the company's provision of reusable pallets, crates and containers, Brambles said.

"Subject to unforeseen events and ongoing economic uncertainty, we remain on track to deliver our guidance for the 2013 financial year ... at 30 June 2012 foreign exchange rates," chief executive Tom Gorman said in a statement. Full story.

9.47am: Some analyst rating changes for today:

  • Lynas cut to 'sell' from hold at Deutsche bank
  • CSR Ltd cut to 'neutral' at JPMorgan
  • ROC Oil cut to 'neutral' at Goldman Sachs 
  • BT Investment Management cut to 'neutral' at Credit Suisse
  • Westpac cut to 'neutral' at Nomura
  • Breville rated new 'buy' at RBS
  • GWA raised to 'neutral' at Goldman Sachs
  • BWP Trust cut to 'sell' at Goldman Sachs

9.44am: China iron edged higher again, rising 50 US cents to $US117.70 a metric tonne. The big miners were mixed in US trade. BHP was flat on Wall Street and Rio lost 0.27 per cent.

9.40am: The major piece of local data out today arrives at 11.30am. Economists are expecting the domestic unemployment rate to have risen in September, confirming fears the job market has weakened in recent months. A Bloomberg survey of 23 economists reveals a median forecast for unemployment to rise to 5.3 per cent, from 5.1 per cent in August.

9.37am: Stocks enter today's session with negative leads, thanks mostly to fears about US earnings. US shares dropped after Alcoa, the largest US aluminum producer, lost 4.6 per cent after cutting its outlook for global demand for the metal.

"You’ve seen very cautionary earnings results and even forward guidance; Alcoa has good earnings, but their forward guidance is lackluster,’’ said Richard Weeks, managing director at HighTower Advisors in the US state of Virginia. ‘‘It points to a slow China and slow global growth.’’

But Wall Street pared those losses after the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book business survey that the US economy expanded "modestly" last month.

For a comprehensive look at this morning’s business news, check today’s need2know. Here are this morning’s key market links:

  • The SPI was 25 points lower at 4460
  • The $A was trading at $US1.0235
  • In the US, the S&P500 lost 0.62% to 1432.56
  • In Europe, the FTSE100 lost 0.58% to 5776.71
  • China iron ore added 50 US cents to $US117.70 a metric tonne 
  • Gold added 10 US cents to $US1765.10 an ounce
  • WTI crude oil lost $US1.14 to $US91.25 a barrel
  • RJ/CRB commodities index added 0.95% to 309.12

9.34am: Hi everyone. Welcome to the Markets Live blog for Thursday.

Contributors: Thomas Hunter, Jens Meyer, Richard Hughes

This blog is not intended as investment advice

BusinessDay with agencies