Australian employers recorded the biggest back-to-back monthly job gains in almost 28 years, sending the currency soaring by almost a U.S. cent while renewing doubts about the veracity of the data.
* Employment rose 71,400 from October; economists forecast 10,000 drop
* Jobless rate dropped to 5.8% from 5.9%; economists predicted 6%
* Full-time jobs rose by 41,600; part-time employment increased by 29,700
* Participation rate, a measure of labor force in proportion to the population, rose to 65.3%; economists predicted 65%
“The labor market data are either a major mirage or a minor miracle,” said Paul Dales, chief economist for Australia and New Zealand at Capital Economics. “But even underneath the salty surface the labor market does appear to be strengthening.”
The scale of the two-month surge, last seen when Bob Hawke was prime minister, prompted a reassessment of interest-rate bets as traders discounted the possibility of a further easing from the current record-low 2 percent. The result triggered renewed skepticism about the accuracy of the figures, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics has acknowledged in the past.
But if true, the report adds to impetus in housing construction and tourism that is soaking up workers surplus to requirements at mine sites where an investment boom is winding down.
“It’s hard to believe that employment has grown 130,000 over two months in the context of everything else,” said Michael Turner, fixed-income and currency strategist at Royal Bank of Canada in Sydney. “But there’s got to be some signal in this, not just noise.”
The Australian dollar traded at 72.79 U.S. cents at 5:11 p.m. in Sydney, having climbed as high as 73.35 cents after the data, compared with 72.42 cents before the release. The Aussie gained against all of its 16 major peers and three-year bond yields rose to the highest this year.
Recruitment firm Randstad Pty. said retail and hospitality industries are performing strongly, reflecting the looming holiday season. It also said education has experienced an increase in demand despite a traditionally quieter summer period.