The Australian share market climbed to a new five-year closing high following the release of the monthly employment report. A fall in job creation last month revived the chance of another interest rate cut and in turn fuelled market gains while the local currency was sold off. Across the sectors the miners crept higher while the banks dipped and consumer staples stayed strong to finish on top.
The S&P/ASX 200 index added 8 points to finish at 5,242.5 points.
The value of trades was $4.3 billion on volume of 836 million shares at the close of trade.
The top three stocks by value were BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP)
, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA)
and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC)
On the futures market the SPI is 9 points higher.
Defying expectations for job creation the Australian economy lost jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate to a four-year high. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) reports the economy lost 10,800 jobs as the unemployment rate rose to 5.8 per cent in August. Full-time and part-time employment dropped and the August participation rate fell to 65 per cent.
Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory Co. (ASX:WCB)
has received a surprise $319 million takeover bid from its shareholder and rival Bega Cheese Limited (ASX:BGA)
. The proposed transaction would create Australia’s largest ASX-listed dairy company and one of the nation’s largest listed food companies, if successful. Bega has offered $2 cash plus 1.2 of its shares for every Warrnambool share held. Warrnambool has told its shareholders to take no action until the board considers the bid and makes a formal recommendation. Shares in Warrnambool Cheese & Butter Factory soared 27.94 per cent today, ending at $5.77.
Singapore Telecommunications Limited’s (ASX:SGT)
Australian arm Optus has scored a $530 million deal from ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ)
. Under the contract Optus will provide the bank with telecommunications and managed services for another five years in both Australia and abroad. The agreement is ANZ’s biggest managed services relationship and continues its partnership with SingTel. Shares in Singapore Telecommunications gained 0.98 per cent today, ending at $3.08.
Shares in Myer Holdings Limited (ASX:MYR)
dropped 3.82 per cent after the retailer booked an annual profit drop of 8.7 per cent, flagged caution over challenging economic and consumer confidence conditions and announced it will take full ownership of fashion brand sass & bide.
Shares in Sigma Pharmaceutical Limited (ASX:SIP)
rose 0.79 per cent after the pharmaceutical company confirmed its annual profit is on track to improve from last year despite revealing a 37 per cent first half profit fall today.
Shares in AGL Energy Limited (ASX:AGK)
clawed out of the red to end 0.13 per cent higher after the energy giant scored the green light from Australia’s competition regulator to acquire junior retailer Australian Power and Gas Company Limited (ASX:APK)
for $100 million.
Shares in Forge Group Limited (ASX:FGE)
put on 1.13 per cent after the engineering company won a $100 million construction contract from Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO)
for work in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
Best and worst performers
The best performing sector was consumer staples adding 49 points to close at 9,930.
The worst performing sector was utilities, losing 14 points to close at 5,363 points.
The best performing stock in the S&PASX 200 was CuDeco Limited (ASX:CDU)
, rising 5.5 per cent to close at $2.11. Shares in News Corp (ASX:NWS)
and The Reject Shop Limited (ASX:TRS)
also closed higher.
The worst performing stock was Boart Longyear Limited (ASX:BLY)
, dropping 10 per cent to close at $0.49. Shares in Emeco Holdings Limited (ASX:EHL)
and Resolute Mining Limited (ASX:RSG)
also closed lower.
Gold is trading at $US1,359 an ounce.
Light crude is $0.17 up at $US107.56 a barrel.
The Australian dollar
The Australian dollar is buying 92.53 US cents.