SYDNEY (Reuters) — Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet dipped 0.9 per cent in December, a survey showed on Monday, likely pointing to only modest growth in employment ahead.
The report by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) showed total job advertisements fell to 179,970 in December in seasonally adjusted terms. That was 2.6 per cent lower than the same month of 2010, the first negative reading in 22 months.
All the fall came in job ads on the Internet which dropped 1.1 per cent to 171,752 in December, from the month before. In contrast, ads in major metropolitan newspapers jumped 3.5 per cent to 8,218.
ANZ's head of Australian economics, Katie Dean, noted a very sharp rise in newspaper ads in the Northern Territory in December, along with strength in Western Australia and Queensland.
These gains were likely related to massive investment in resource projects in those areas, along with flood reconstruction in Queensland.
Job advertising continued to weaken in Australia's two most populous states, New South Wales and Victoria, reflecting consolidation in the manufacturing and retail sectors, as well as some pull-back in advertising for professional services.
The official jobs report for December, due on Thursday, is expected to show the jobless rate holding at 5.3 per cent. Analysts generally expect a modest rise in employment of 10,000, after a surprise drop of 6,300 jobs in November.
ANZ expects the jobless rate to climb to 5.5 per cent by the middle of the year, giving the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) more scope reason to trim interest rates.
"A further modest rise in the unemployment rate, together with continued heightened global risks, should keep domestic inflationary pressures relatively benign for now," said Dean. "This will provide the RBA with further scope to provide another modest easing of monetary policy," she added, predicting a quarter-point cut to four per cent at the next policy meeting on Feb. 7.
The central bank cut interest rates in both November and December, citing risks from the European debt crisis and a more benign inflation outlook at home.
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