Inflation news, unemployment data prompt stock rise

The Australian share market enjoyed a day of strong gains following mixed labour force data and positive inflation news from the US. 

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed on Thursday up 127.6 points, or 1.7 per cent, to a six-week high of 7,881.3, while the broader All Ordinaries was up 129.2 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 8,150.1.

Australian labour force data released on Thursday showed the unemployment rate rose 0.2 percentage points to 4.1 per cent in April, up from 3.9 per cent in March, a figure that was revised upwards as well.

About 38,000 jobs were added to the economy during the month and the number of unemployed increased about 30,000, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Expectations for rate cuts next year had lifted thanks to the data but it wasn’t a smoking gun, Josh Gilbert, market analyst at eToro, said. 

“We are unlikely to see cuts handed down until 2025 unless inflation moderates significantly before then, which seems unlikely at this stage, especially given the challenges we have seen overseas,” he said. 

Core inflation in the US fell to 3.6 per cent in April, which Kyle Rodda, senior market analyst at, said was on par with expectations after three months of higher-than-expected readouts. 

"While still some way above the Fed’s two per cent target, the data hints are a continued trend of disinflation that ought to allow the Fed room to cut rates at the end of the year," Mr Rodda said. 

All of the ASX's sectors finished higher except for energy, which dipped 0.3 per cent.   

Interest rate-sensitive property was the biggest gainer, rising 3.5 per cent as Dexus grew 3.3 per cent and Goodman Group climbed 4.1 per cent.

In the heavyweight mining sector, BHP was up 1.0 per cent to $44.54, Fortescue gained 2.2 per cent to $26.61 and Rio Tinto gained 0.7 per cent to $130.39.

The big four banks rose on the back of the US data, with CBA finishing up 1.9 per cent at $122.26, ANZ rising 2.1 per cent to $28.26, NAB climbing 2.4 per cent at $34.56 and Westpac rising 1.4 per cent to $26.73.

In the energy sector, Whitehaven Coal finished down 1.5 per cent at $7.14 after the Federal Court dismissed an environmental group’s claim that the company’s Narrabri gas project had not been approved in line with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The third stage of the project will now return to federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek to determine if the NSW mine will remain open until 2044.

Graincorp rose 0.9 per cent to $8.14  as the agribusiness announced its half-year net profit had dropped 75 per cent to $50 million but predicted better things ahead thanks to recent rains that made for a favourable east coast growing season.

Incitec Pivot finished 5.3 per cent higher at $2.97 after the explosives company delivered first-half earnings of $249 million, down from $552 million a year ago but better than the market's expectations of $206 million. 

The company also said it was in advanced negotiations to sell its fertiliser business to state-owned Indonesian enterprise PT Pupuk Kalimantan Timur for cash.

The Australian dollar was buying 66.78 US cents, from 66.44 US cents at Wednesday's ASX close.


* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed on Thursday up 127.6 points, or 1.65 per cent, to a six-week high of 7,881.3.

* The broader All Ordinaries was up 129.2 points, or 1.6 per cent, to 8,150.1.


One Australian dollar buys:

* 66.78 US cents, from 66.43 US cents at Tuesday's ASX close

* 103.00 Japanese yen, from 103.84 Japanese yen

* 61.37 Euro cents, from 61.34 Euro cents

* 52.68 British pence, from 52.75 pence

* 109.19 NZ cents, from 109.61 NZ cents.

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