Mining stocks, unemployment push market higher

Mining stocks and better-than-expected unemployment figures have helped drive the Australian share market higher today.

The All Ordinaries index finished the session 15 points higher at 4,956, while the ASX 200 index also gained 15 points to finish at 4,936.

Rio Tinto rose 0.9 per cent and BHP Billiton closed just over a third of a per cent higher.

Fortescue Metals Group finished the session 1.5 per cent higher and gold miner Newcrest added 0.4 per cent.

ANZ and NAB led gains in the banking sector, with each rising around 1.8 per cent.

The Commonwealth Bank ended 0.1 per cent higher, while Westpac fell 0.6 per cent.

It was a far from positive day for most media stocks though, with the Ten Network one of the market's worst performers as it slid nearly 6.5 per cent.

Seven West Media was a rare bright spot for the sector as it rose 0.9 per cent, while News Corporation lost 3.25 per cent and Fairfax fell 2.9 per cent.

The retail end of discretionary spending fared far better, led by a 3.2 per cent gain for David Jones.

JB Hi-Fi rose 2.9 per cent, Billabong 2.1 per cent and Harvey Norman just under 1 per cent.

Economists had expected official figures released today to show the unemployment rate rising slightly in January, but instead the rate remained steady at 5.4 per cent.

More than 10,000 jobs were created in the month, but there were also signs of underlying economic weakness despite the positive headline figure.

The increase in jobs was entirely down to part-time positions, with enough created to also off-set a loss of nearly 10,000 full-time jobs.

In commodities, West Texas intermediate crude oil was worth around $US96.62 cents a barrel at 5pm (AEDT), while Tapis crude oil in Singapore was selling for about $US122.91 cents a barrel.

The spot gold price rose to $US1,681 an ounce.

Also at 5pm (AEDT) the Australian dollar was buying around $US103.2, 76.3 euro cents, 65.87 British pence, 96.64 Japanese yen and 123.37 New Zealand cents.

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.9273-0.0092-0.99%
    AUDUSD=X
    0.5524-0.0042-0.76%
    AUDGBP=X
    0.6703-0.0081-1.19%
    AUDEUR=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg