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Australian shares slightly lower; unemployment rate unchanged

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Australian shares closed slightly lower as the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released unemployment data.

The S&P/ASX 200 shaved off 3.1 points or 0.07 per cent to 4214.8.

The All Ords was two points or 0.05 per cent lower to 4278.6.

Among the major miners, BHP Billiton added $0.34 or 0.92 per cent to $37.34 and Rio Tinto put on $0.15 or 0.23 per cent to $66.75.

To financials and ANZ was up $0.03 or 0.14 per cent to $20.82, CBA lost $0.04 or 0.08 per cent to $49.80, NAB put on $0.22 or 0.93 per cent to $23.88 and Westpac added $0.03 or 0.15 per cent to $20.60.

In energy news, Woodside Petroleum announced production of 64.6 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2011, down 11 per cent compared with the previous year. Shares dropped $0.63 or 1.85 per cent to $33.48.

And Santos reported production of 47.2 million barrels of oil equivalent in 2011, down five per cent from 2010. Shares were $0.04 or 0.3 per cent higher to $13.25.

Oil Search rose $0.07 or 1.08 per cent to $6.55.

And in retail, Woolworths lost $0.34 or 1.33 per cent to $25.13 and Wesfarmers fell $0.11 or 0.36 per cent to $30.37.

In other news, Australia’s unemployment rate was unchanged at 5.2 per cent in December, according to the ABS. The number of people employed fell by 29,300 people. Part-time employment fell by 53,700 people and full-time employment increased by 24,500 people. The participation rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 65.2 per cent.

To Asia and the Nikkei was 97.09 points or 1.14 per cent higher to 8647.67 and the Hang Seng gained 197.69 points or one per cent to 19,884.61.

The Australian dollar was buying 103.9 US cents, 67.35 pence Sterling, 80.77 euro cents and 79.69 Japanese yen. 

Published on: Friday, January 20, 2012

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