1 US jobless rate at 10-year low (Straits Times) Payroll gains in the US rebounded last month by more than what was forecast, and the jobless rate unexpectedly fell to 4.4 per cent, signaling that the labour market remains healthy and should support continued increases in consumer spending.
The 211,000 increase followed a 79,000 advance in March that was lower than previously estimated, a US Labour Department report showed. While the unemployment rate is now the lowest since May 2007, wages were a soft spot in the report, climbing 2.5 per cent from a year earlier.
Strengthening business sentiment might be translating into hiring, and the data should keep Federal Reserve policymakers on track to raise interest rates in the coming months after officials declared the first-quarter slowdown to be temporary.
Employment gains were broad- based though concentrated in services. Leisure and hospitality registered a 55,000 increase, education and health services was up 41,000, and financial activities rose by 19,000. Retail rebounded with a 6,300 increase following a revised loss of 27,400.
The underemployment rate, a measure that includes those working part-time who would take a full-time job if it were available, dropped to 8.6 per cent, the lowest since November 2007, just before the last recession began. In March, it was 8.9 per cent. The number of discouraged workers fell by 5,000 last month to 460,000, and was 363,000 the month the last recession started.
2 Oil at five-month low (Martin Farrer in The Guardian) Oil prices have fallen sharply along with other commodities as the prospect of slowing growth in the US and China blunts optimism about the global economy.
Stocks fell across the Asia Pacific region for the third day running thanks to a 5% drop in the oil price on concerns of a supply glut. Analysts have forecast further losses amid signs that demand will not be strong enough to soak up the excess production. Iron ore and copper also fell sharply and analysts warned of a gathering commodities rout.
Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said: “The commodity optimism of earlier this year looks to be in the process of being completely unwound.” Oil prices plunged to five-month lows on Thursday amid record trading volume in Brent crude, as Opec and other producers appeared to rule out deeper supply cuts to reduce the world’s persistent glut of crude.
Copper prices slid to four-month lows, following their biggest one-day drop in 20 months while Chinese iron ore futures tumbled 8% on Thursday on concerns that global commodity demand are set to fall sharply.
3 France bans overly thin models (BBC) A law in France banning the use of unhealthily thin fashion models has come into effect. Models will need to provide a doctor’s certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with special regard to their body mass index (BMI) – a measure of weight in relation to height.
The health ministry says the aim is to fight eating disorders and inaccessible ideals of beauty. Digitally altered photos will also have to be labelled from 1 October. Images where a model’s appearance has been manipulated will need to be marked photographie retouchée (English: retouched photograph).
A previous version of the bill had suggested a minimum BMI for models, prompting protests from modelling agencies in France. But the final version, backed by MPs 2015, allows doctors to decide whether a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape.
Employers breaking the law could face fines of up to 75,000 euros ($82,000) and up to six months in jail. France is not the first country to legislate on underweight models – Italy, Spain and Israel have all done so. Anorexia affects between 30,000 to 40,000 people in France, 90% of whom are women.