News: Midday: Unemployment rate grows to 6.4%

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    Despite a set of weak leads from overseas the local market pushed higher on open but it’s the January jobs report that has everyone’s attention with the ABS showing unemployment increased to 6.4 per cent in the month. At midday the local bourse was marginally higher. 
     
    The Aussie dollar took an immediate hit after the release of the poor jobs data sinking to $US0.7653.
     
    The S&P/ASX 200 index is 8 points up at 5,778. On the futures market the SPI is 1 points higher.
     
    Looking at economic news: The Australian Bureau of Statistics has reported a 0.3 per cent lift in the unemployment rate to 6.4 per cent seasonally adjusted for January with employment decreasing by 12,200 places.
     
    Company news
     
    Transurban Group (ASX:TCL) has made a loss in the first half on the back of its Queensland Motorways acquisition but it will still pay a dividend. The toll road operator posted a net loss of $345 million in the six months to December from a profit of $81 million in the previous corresponding period. The company says a 19.5 cent distribution will be paid with 3.5 cents fully franked and the full year distribution guidance has been upgraded to 39.5 cents. Shares in Transurban are trading up 0.48 per cent at $9.35 
     
    Santos Limited (ASX:STO) says it will recognise an impairment charge of $1.6 billion in its 2014 full year results on the back of tumbling oil prices. The oil and gas producer says the non-cash accounting adjustment will reflect its long-term price forecast of oil at $US90 barrel and the Aussie dollar at $US0.80. The company notes GLNG will not be effected and is on track for first LNG in the second half of this year.  Shares in Santos are trading down 1.69 per cent at $7.58
      
    Best and worst performers

    The best performing sector is health care, gaining 2.1 per cent to 18,131. Shares in ResMed Inc (ASX:RMD) have risen 4.03 per cent and trading at $8.52. Shares in CSL Limited (ASX:CSL) and Cochlear Limited (ASX:COH) are also stronger.
     
    The worst performing sector is consumer staples, falling 0.5 per cent to 9,572. Shares in Metcash Limited (ASX:MTS) have fallen 1.02 per cent, trading at $1.46. Shares in Coca-Cola Amatil Limited (ASX:CCL) and Goodman Fielder Limited (ASX:GFF) are also lower. 
     
    Gold and the dollar

    Gold is trading at $US1,221 an ounce.
    The Australian dollar is buying $US0.7653
 
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