EVENING REPORT (5pm AEST)
Local stocks continued their upward trajectory today, consolidating at the best levels we've seen since June 2008. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) added 17.2 points or 0.3 per cent by the close to finish at 5477.5 points.
Every sector moved higher except for the mining and energy players, which retreated after Chinese trade data came in weaker than expected.
In company news, Ten Network Holdings (TEN) rose 3.9 per cent to 27c after the media company reported a first half loss of $7.98 million, a significant improvement on its $243.3 million loss posted this time last year. TEN says advertising markets remain short with advertisers reluctant to commit to longer campaigns, and did not declare an interim dividend as was largely expected.
Meanwhile toll road operator Transurban (TCL) rose 1.1 per cent to $7.36 after reporting a near 13 per cent increase in revenue in the March quarter to $221.7 million. The upgrade of Sydney's M2 Hills Motorway was a significant boost to TCL, with revenue from the M2 alone up more than 40 per cent in the period.
In economic news, employment rose by 18,100 in March after a revised 48,200 lift in jobs in February (previously reported as a 47,300 increase in jobs). Full-time jobs fell by 22,100 in March after rising by 80,000 in February. Part-time jobs rose by 40,200 in March after falling by 31,800 in February.
The unemployment rate fell from an upwardly-revised reading of 6.1 per cent in February to 5.8 per cent. The participation rate fell from 64.9 per cent to 64.7 per cent.
The Australian dollar reached a fresh four and a half month high on the jobless rate, and was buying US94.28c at the close of trade on Thursday.
A total of 1.8 billion shares changed hands, worth $4.8 billion. 536 were up, 387 were down and 344 were unchanged.
At 4.30pm AEST the SFE 200 Futures Index was at 5475, up 11 points.
Ahead tonight, data on weekly claims for unemployment insurance is released in the US together with import and export prices and the monthly Federal Budget.
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