Midday: ASX up, AUD drops on jobs data

Market Reports

Maintaining yesterday’s momentum the Australian share market jumped 0.6 per cent at open and has stayed strong following the release of official jobs data. December jobs numbers have hit the Australian dollar though, with the local currency falling below $US0.89. 
 
Across local sectors losses among financials are being offset by gains among resources. A series of well-received production reports have given the major miners a boost with Rio Tinto Limited (ASX:RIO) rising after reporting stronger iron ore output. Gold miner Newcrest Mining Limited (ASX:NCM) has also lifted and minerals sands producer Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ILU) has jumped after releasing production reports. 
 
Gains in the energy sector have been fuelled by a higher oil price and oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) revealing it achieved record annual production.
 
Figures
 
The S&P/ASX 200 index has risen 34 points to 5,279.5. On the futures market the SPI is 38 points higher. 
 
Economic news
 
Australia’s jobless rate has met expectations and remained steady at the end of 2013. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the official unemployment rate remained at 5.8 per cent in the month of December. Over the same period the economy lost 22,600 jobs with the number of people employed now at 11.63 million. The participation rate also dipped from the month before to 64.6 per cent of the population in December.
 
Company news
 
Shares in Monadelphous Group Limited (ASX:MND) have dipped after the mining services provider scored a $100 million contract from iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group Limited (ASX:FMG) for the construction of a gas pipeline in Western Australia. 
 
Shares in Panorama Synergy Limited (ASX:PSY) have gained after the technology company exited a trading halt and told the market it has decided not to accept the terms of a funding proposal presented by a US fund manager, but affirmed its confidence in future opportunities and proposals. 
 
Shares in Djerriwarrh Investments Limited (ASX:DJW) have firmed after reporting half year results. The investment company’s interim profit rose almost 17 per cent in the last six months of 2013.  
 
Shares in Norton Gold Fields Limited (ASX:NGF) have plunged more than 10 per cent despite achieving record gold production last year and confirming its commitment to cutting costs in the future.  
 
Best and worst performers
 
The best performing sector is energy, gaining 214 points to 13,436. Shares in Whitehaven Coal Limited (ASX:WHC) have risen 3.58 per cent and trading at $1.88. Shares in Karoon Gas Australia Limited (ASX:KAR) and Buru Energy Limited (ASX:BRU) are also stronger. 
 
The worst performing sector is financials excluding real estate investment trusts, falling 8 points to 6,813. Shares in Commonwealth Bank of Australia (ASX:CBA) have eased 0.76 per cent, trading at $75.61. Shares in ANZ Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) and Westpac Banking Corporation (ASX:WBC) are also lower. 
 
Gold and the dollar
 
Gold has risen this morning and buying $US1,241 an ounce. 
The Australian dollar fell following local jobs numbers and is buying $US0.8819.