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Australia job advertisements rise for ninth month in Feb

[SYDNEY] Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet rose for the ninth straight month in February to reach their highest in at least two years, evidence of an improvement in the demand for labour even as jobs are shed in some sectors.

A survey by Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job advertisements rose 0.9 per cent to 143,484 per week on average in February. Annual growth in ads dipped to 9.8 per cent, from 13.6 per cent the month before.

Ads on the internet rose 0.7 per cent in February, while those in newspapers enjoyed a rare bounce of 8.1 per cent. Newspaper ads have been in decline for some years and account for only a fraction of total ads. "Job advertisements remain on a moderate upward trend, suggesting that labour demand is holding up across certain sectors of the Australian economy," said ANZ chief economist Warren Hogan.

However, Mr Hogan said employment growth was still failing to keep up with rapid growth in the working population, leading to a gradual increase in the unemployment rate. "The tepid outlook for economic growth and expectations of a further rise in unemployment continue to suggest that further monetary policy easing is necessary," added Mr MHogan.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) cut rates to a record low of 2.25 per cent in February and ANZ looks for a further move to 2 per cent in April.

The official employment report for February is due on Thursday and forecasts centre on a bounce of 15,000 following an unexpected fall of 12,200 in January.

The unemployment rate is seen ticking down to 6.3 per cent, after a surprisingly sharp rise to 6.4 per cent the previous month.

The jobs data have been unusually volatile for months now as the Australian Bureau of Statistics ran into survey troubles that distorted the numbers.

REUTERS