Despite a slightly firmer start to the day's trade, local stocks are trading in the red at lunchtime, weighed down by weakness from the mining players.
Bridgestone surges 10 percent on Tokyo Stock Exchange
Overnight, the US Dow Jones Index rose modestly, but importantly gained for a 9th straight session, the longest winning streak since November 1996.
Locally, iron ore player Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) is one of the weakest performers, down 5.7% to $3.99 while BHP Billiton (BHP) is lower by 1.7% after rising yesterday.
Banking stocks are also in the red despite a positive start.
In company news today; retailer Myer Limited (MYR) has impressed the market with its 1H results. MYR reported a modest 0.7% rise in 1H net profit to just under $88M and will pay shareholders an interim dividend of 10cps. 2Q sales rose by 2.1% to $1.04B, with Myer saying easing off on discounts and focusing on in-house brands drove the revenue. MYR shares rose 5% in early trade and at lunchtime in the East are firmer by 4.1% to $3.02.
In economic data today, employment rose by 71,500 in February after lifting by 13,000 jobs in January (previously reported as +10,400). Economists had expected a 10,000 lift in jobs in February.
The unemployment rate was steady at 5.4 per cent in February. The participation rate rose from 65.0 per cent to 65.3 per cent.
CommSec Chief Economist Craig James said of the data "Clearly the pessimists have been put in place. Employment may not have actually lifted by over 70,000 in one month, but we still have an economy that hasn't seen a recession in 21 years and is growing at a normal pace with low inflation. And that is something to celebrate."
The Aussie dollar spiked from just under US103c to US103.75c on the strong jobs data.
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