Monday, August 03, 2009

Good signs ahead of Tuesday's Reserve Bank Board meeting

The Olivier advertisement index stopped falling last month after more than a year of free-fall. In NSW the number of jobs on offer actually climbed. The index is made up of the the number of jobs advertised on each of Australia's three leading websites and closely tracks the ANZ index to be updated later today.

Nationally 189,228 jobs were advertised in July, roughly unchanged from June. Big gains in ads for construction workers, information technology workers and tradespeople offset continuing declines in the demand for finance, accounting and administrative workers.

"We are beginning to see an unwinding of the slide that began early last year," said Olivier Recruitment director Robert Olivier...

"The slides in the first three months of this year were appalling - the worst I have ever reported - and they will probably be reflected in worse official employment figures on Thursday because vacancies are filled with a lag, but beyond that things are looking better."

In NSW vacancies for construction and engineering jobs climbed 7 per cent and trades and services jobs 6 per cent, more than offsetting slides in accounting, legal and education jobs.

"Sydney and Melbourne are recovering ahead of the rest of Australia after diving first," said Mr Olivier. "Sydney in particular lost finance jobs early, and Queensland and Western Australian employers waited before letting go of staff. But now employers in the the big eastern states are telling me they need to replace workers who have left. A few months back they weren't doing that."

The news comes ahead of a Reserve Bank board meeting Tuesday considered certain to leave rates on hold. The Alice Springs-based bookmaker Centrebet says one punter put $10,000 on their being no change Tuesday and followed it up with a second bet of $50,000.

"It's a customer who has been successful before, and we'll probably lose to him again," said spokesman Neil Evans. The bets placed at $1.10 and $1.08 stand to net the punter $5,000.

Treasurer Wayne Swan Sunday conceded that interest rates were set to climb as the economy recovered, telling Channel Nine rates were at their lowest level in 40 years, so it was "obvious that at some time into the future rates will certainly rise and the Reserve Bank will take that decision."

Tuesday's Reserve Bank board meeting follows an optimistic speech by Governor Glenn Stevens last week asserting that Australians were increasingly seeing the "glass as half full" and that the current downturn "may turn out not to be one of the more serious ones of the post-War era".

The board is considered likely to remove the so-called "easing bias"
apparent in the minutes of its last three meetings which canvassed the possibility of a further interest rate cut.

Governor Stevens said he was prepared to increase interest rates even while the unemployment rate was still rising, encouraging financial markets to price in an interest rate hike before the end of this year and a hike of 1.5 to 2.0 percentage points throughout next year.

Published in today's SMH and Age