Midday: ASX higher as jobless rate drops

Market Reports

The Australian share market has pulled back from the mornings high but is trading 0.4 per cent higher following the release of strong labour data. Extending yesterday’s rally the benchmark index broke above the 5,500 level within the first half hour of trade but has since come off its peak. Local stocks jumped after Wall Street rose overnight amid expectations the US Federal Reserve is unlikely to raise rates as soon as markets had expected. Across the local board the telco sector is the only major defying the upwards trend and most are trading higher with gold and real estate stocks at the top of the ladder. 
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has climbed 31 points and is at 5,495. On the futures market the SPI is 27 points higher. 
 
Economic news
 
Australia’s jobless rate has dropped against expectations of a rise last month. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the Australian economy created 18,100 jobs as the unemployment rate fell to 5.8 per cent in March, from 6 per cent the month before. The participation rate pulled back to 64.7 per cent in March. 
 
Company news
 
Shares in Red Fork Energy Limited (ASX:RFE) have risen after entering into a farm out agreement with Blue Quail in Oklahoma. The oil and gas explorer and producer says the agreement provides it with a zero-risk opportunity to participate in the testing of conventional oil and gas targets. Red Fork also believes the deal provides it with an opportunity to leverage its investment in 3D seismic and mid-stream infrastructure. Shares in Red Fork Energy have risen 28.05 per cent and are trading at $0.10. 
 
Shares in Neon Energy Limited (ASX:NEN) have soared after telling the market it has completed the sale of US assets for $US27 million. The oil and gas explorer and producer plans to put the proceeds to funding an expanded international new ventures program. Managing Director Ken Charsinsky says the transaction will provide a stable funding platform from which to develop opportunities to create value for shareholders. Shares in Neon Energy have soared 26 per cent and are trading at $0.03. 
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is real estate investment trusts gaining 17 points to 1,046. Shares in Westfield Group (ASX:WDC) have risen 2.24 per cent and trading at $10.72. Shares in Charter Hall Retail REIT (ASX:CQR) and GPT Group (ASX:GPT) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is telco services, falling 2 points to 1,770. Shares in Telstra Corporation Limited (ASX:TLS) have fallen 0.39 per cent, trading at $5.06. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications Limited (ASX:SGT) are flat while shares in M2 Group Limited (ASX:MTU) are trading higher. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold is trading at $US1,317.11 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar is buying $US0.943.