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March 29, 2017

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Australia's jobless rate hits 12-year high of 6.4%

SYDNEY--Australia's unemployment rate spiked to a 12-year high of 6.4 percent in July, data showed Thursday, lowering expectations of a near-term hike in interest rates as the economy shows signs of weakness.

The surprise jump in the jobless rate, which was up from the decade-high of 6.0 percent in June, saw 300 positions lost from the economy, the Australian Bureau of Statistics said.

Full-time positions increased by 14,500 but 14,800 part-time roles were shed. Analysts had expected 12,000 jobs to be added in the month.

The number of unemployed rose by 43,700 to 789,000 in July.

The Australian dollar lost more than half a cent after the data was released, falling from 93.55 U.S. cents to 92.96 U.S. cents.

The participation rate, which measures the proportion of adults in work or looking for it, lifted by 0.1 percentage points to 64.8 percent.

Economists said the figures, which were well above consensus forecasts of 6.1 percent, were worse-than-expected. The latest data also meant Australia's jobless rate was above the United States' for the first time since 2007.

But they cautioned against reading too much into the report, saying it could be a "noisy print" — a fluctuation that reflects the volatility of month-to-month data.

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