SCMP Group, publisher of the South China Morning Post and Sunday Morning Post, yesterday reported steady profits for the first half, supported by the company's core newspaper business. Net profit for the six months to June was $112.31 million, compared with $111.41 million in the same period last year. Turnover was $536.58 million, against $697.56 million previously. Newspaper operations posted a 13 per cent rise in net profit to $109 million while revenues grew 9 per cent to $451 million. The gains from newspaper operations, which accounted for 84 per cent of group revenue and 94 per cent of operating profit, were offset by the group's books, videos, films and music businesses. Operating profit margin fell to 26 per cent from 28 per cent in the year-ago period, although newspaper margins increased to 30 per cent from 29 per cent. Classified job advertising rose 14 per cent, reflecting Hong Kong's economic rebound. The territory's unemployment rate slid to 5.7 per cent in June from 6.8 per cent last year and 7.9 per cent two years ago. 'The second half is likely to see a pick-up in advertising demand driven by continued consumer spending and low unemployment levels,' SCMP said in a statement. 'The group is well-placed to benefit from this favourable business environment.' Through the South China Morning Post and Jiu Jik, the group has a 38 per cent share of the classified job market. Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing intends to abolish rules requiring listed firms to publish their results and other announcements in newspapers by the end of next year. Such advertising accounted for only 5 per cent of group advertising revenue in the first half. Revenue from display advertising, meanwhile, increased 13 per cent year on year. Production costs were driven up by newsprint, prices for which rose 21 per cent to US$545 per tonne from US$452. The South China Morning Post's unaudited circulation in the first half increased 1.2 per cent over the same period last year to 103,000.