Australia suffered a surprising drop in employment in August that pushed the jobless rate up to a four-year high of 5.8 percent, a disappointingly soft report that revived the chance of a cut in interest rates and knocked the local dollar lower.
The currency skidded by almost one U.S. cent as Thursday's data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed employers shed a net 10,800 workers in August, well below forecasts of a 10,000 increase and a second straight month of losses.
The jobless rate was the highest since August 2009, when the economy was weathering the global financial crisis, and would have been even higher if not for an unexpected drop in the participation rate.
The local dollar was plucked off a six-month high of $0.9355 and unceremoniously dumped to $0.9260 following the data. Investors began to wager on another cut in interest rates, having almost abandoned thoughts of a move given recent better economic news from China and much of the developed world.
"It's a bit of tempering of that optimism that emerged about the economic outlook in the last few weeks," said Michael Blythe chief economist at Commonwealth Bank.
"It's the old story that as long as the unemployment rate is trending up, as it is at the moment, then the RBA will still be thinking about interest rates each month and whether they need to cut them again."
(Read more: Is the Aussie dollar heading for parity?)
Interbank futures show a 50 percent probability of a rate cut by Christmas, compared to just 38 percent before the jobs report. Yields on three-year government debt pulled back to 2.90 percent from a six-month peak of 3.0 percent.
Swap rates swung back to pricing in an easing on a 12-month horizon, albeit only of 2 basis points. Early in the week they were implying almost 10 basis points of hikes.