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Australia job ads rebound in June, trend still weak

[SYDNEY] Australian job advertisements in newspapers and on the internet rebounded in June after a sharp decline in May, though the overall trend in employment growth was still downwards.

Monday's figures from Australia and New Zealand Banking Group showed total job advertisements added a seasonally adjusted 4.6 per cent in June from May, when they fell 8.4 per cent for the biggest fall since January 2010.

Job ads have now fallen in eight of the past 12 months.

Ads averaged 159,717 a week, 9.1 per cent lower than in May last year.

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"The gain was one of the biggest in 18 months. We don't think it necessarily represents a turn in the overall downward trend," said David Plank, ANZ's head of Australian economics.

He said the June increase in job vacancies represents only a partial recovery from the weakness seen in May.

"This points to slowing employment growth and rising unemployment. If confirmed by the actual employment data, then the RBA will likely react by lowering the cash rate yet again," Mr Plank said.

The vacancies series is valued by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) since the Australian Bureau of Statistics surveys firms directly about their labour needs rather than just counting ads.

Australia's labour market has been a lone bright spot in a slowing economy but seems to be losing steam. The unemployment rate surprisingly jumped to an eight-month peak of 5.2 per cent in April as more people went looking for work.

The rise in the jobless rate, together with lukewarm inflation, falling house prices and sluggish consumer spending prompted the country's central bank to ease policy rates by 50 basis points since June to a record low 1.00 per cent.

Analysts widely expect the RBA to cut a third time this year. Financial futures see a real chance of the cash rate at 0.75 per cent by the Christmas holiday.

REUTERS