Employment data beats expectations: Aus shares 0.2% lower at noon

Market Reports

by Jessica Amir

The Australian share market is tracking lower for the third straight session, as Wall Street has failed to snap its losing streak, with the top 500 stocks falling for the fifth straight session.

From the outset, we were headed for a steady start, as some commodities paired back some losses, with the oil making a gain of 1 per cent, after hitting a year low yesterday (after it fell about 7 per cent), while the iron ore price bounced back. And today we received some better than expected economic data.

Nevertheless, half the sectors are in positive territory with Discretionary and Energy up the most, with GE Education (ASX:GEM) shares hitting an eight-month high. While Financials lag with Westpac (ASX:WBC) continuing its drag.

The S&P/ASX 200 index is 0.2 per cent or 11 points lower at 5,722 at noon. 
On the futures market the SPI is 8 points lower.

Economic news

The October, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate held steady at 5 per cent, while some economist predicted the rate would rise to 5.1 per cent.

Labour force participation rose 0.1 per cent, to 65.6 per cent beating expectations and the number of employed people increased by 32,800, also beating expectations.

Company news

Australia’s largest corporate demerger is set to occur in under a week after Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) will spin-off Coles Group (XASX:COL). The spin-off is subject to final court and shareholder approval, while S&P Global has advised Coles Group is set be added to the ASX200 on 20 November. Citi says on 21 November Coles should be valued at $14.20 per share. It comes as Wesfarmers will spin-off 1 share of Coles Group Limited for every 1 Wesfarmers share held. Importantly, Coles will get a new spot among the top 200, and therefore, S&P Global will not need to remove a stock in its place among the S&P/ASX 200. Shares in Wesfarmers (ASX:WES) are trading 0.8 per cent lower at $45.80 at noon.

Seven Group Holdings and its subsidiaries increased their major holding in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) from about 26 per cent to 29 per cent. Shares in Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) are trading 4 per cent higher at $1.68 at noon.

Best and worst performers

The best performing sector is Consumer Discretionary adding 1 per cent, while the worst performing sector is Financials, shedding 0.8 per cent.

The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is G8 Education (ASX:GEM), rising 11.2 per cent to $2.68, followed by shares in Lendlease Group (ASX:LLC) and Elders (ASX:ELD).

The worst performing stock in the S&P/ASX 200 is Aveo Group (ASX:AOG), dropping 6.5 per cent to $1.59, followed by shares in Washington H Soul Pattinson & Company (ASX:SOL) (which is seeing some selling after its shares hit a new all-time high yesterday).  And IPH (ASX:IPH) follows. 

Commodities and the dollar

Gold is trading at US$1,210 an ounce.
Iron ore price rose 0.2 per cent to US$75.91 and its futures are pointing to a rise of 0.2 per cent.
One Australian dollar is buying 72.76 US cents.