The Australian share market closed 0.8 per cent higher today, buoyed by record highs on Wall Street overnight. After flirting either side of the 5,000 barrier throughout the session the ASX ended north of the psychological mark, despite surprisingly weak jobs figures. Gains among the banks offset weakness in among the miners, the only major sector closing in the red.
The S&P/ASX 200 index advanced 39 points to finish at 5,007.
The value of trades was $4 billion on volume of 823 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 41 points higher.
The latest official employment figures have come in below expectations. The Australian Bureau of Statistics labour force data has revealed the economy lost 36,100 jobs in March, pushing the unemployment rate up to 5.6 per cent despite expectations it would remain steady at 5.4 per cent.
Woolworths Limited (ASX:WOW)
has defied challenging retail conditions and boosted its third quarter sales by 2.5 per cent to $14.4 billion. The results generated from Australia's largest retailer were supported by strength in its supermarket and home improvement divisions and the fastest food and liquor sales growth in almost two years. Shares in Woolworths gained 1.42 per cent, ending the session at $34.37.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
has completed the sale of its diamonds business for $US553 million on the same day reports have emerged the miner has made a substantial copper discovery. Sources claim BHP has uncovered broad intersections of copper mineralisation at relatively high grades in the remote West Australian outback which could potentially open the West Mysgrave region. Shares in BHP Billiton fell 0.83 per cent, ending the session at $33.40.
Mining and civil services provider Maca Limited (ASX:MLD)
has scored a $42 million contract for road upgrades from in Western Australia.
Civil engineering company Decmil Group Limited (ASX:DCG)
has won two contracts worth more than $71 million at Gina Rinehart's $10 billion Roy Hill Iron Ore Project.
Mark Bouris’ TZ Limited (ASX:TZL)
has been awarded a major supply contract for its TZ SMArt Locker Banks for office locations throughout the US and potentially worldwide.
Internet technology and marketing company Adslot Limited (ASX:ADJ)
has signed an exclusive global contract with the world's largest news site, The Daily Mail.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was financials excluding real estate investment trusts adding 90 points to close at 6,355.
The worst performing sector was materials, losing 65 points to close at 9,646 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS)
, rising 4.49 per cent to close at $16.30. Shares in Perpetual Limited (ASX:PPT)
and Senex Energy Limited (ASX:SXY)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Sundance Resources Limited (ASX:SDL)
, dropping 12 per cent to close at $0.09. Shares in Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG)
and Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX:SLR)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,560 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.24 down at $US94.40 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying $US1.051.