The Australian share market snapped a healthy five day winning streak today, to close marginally lower on the back of a disappointing jobs report.
3,700 jobs were lost in the Australian economy in January, versus expectations of a gain of 20,000. The unemployment rate rose to a 10 year high of 6 per cent, sending the Australian dollar back below US90c.
It was a busy day on the reporting calendar. Australia's largest telco Telstra (TLS) delighted investors with an increased dividend, its first in 8 years. TLS shareholders will receive an interim dividend of 14.5 cents per share after the company posted a slightly worse than expected 1H profit of $1.7 billion, an increase of almost 10 per cent.
Stock market operator ASX Limited (ASX) lifted its 1H profit by almost 11% to $189.6 million thanks to a large number of listings and improved market activity. Shareholders will receive a higher interim dividend of 88.2c per share to be paid on 26th March. ASX shares rose 1.6 per cent to $36.25.
Qantas (QAN) shares rallied and were the best performer on the ASX 200 after investors read into comments from Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey that the airline could be thrown a lifeline. QAN rose 6.3 per cent to $1.185. Virgin Australia (VAH) closed steady at 34.5 cents.
Rio Tinto (RIO) shares fell ahead of the release of its full year numbers due after the bell.
David Jones (DJS) fell almost one per cent despite a 5 per cent lift in 2Q sales to $618 million.
On the market overall, a total of almost 2 billion shares changed hands, with a value of $4.7 billion. 480 were up, 458 were down and 348 were unchanged.
At 4.15pm AEDT the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5264, up one point.
Ahead tonight, advance retail sales figures are due to be released in the US.
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