EVENING REPORT (4.30pm AEST)
The Australian sharemarket continued to improve this afternoon, with local shares rising by close to 0.75 per cent. The All Ordinaries Index (XAO) jumped by 0.7 per cent with all sectors finishing higher.
The miners ended 1.25 per cent firmer as a sector, with stronger commodity prices pushing the industry higher. Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals (FMG) surged by 5.23 per cent and was a standout. FMG has however wiped out almost all of last year's 25 per cent improvement, with the stock down 20.4 per cent since January this year. The price of iron ore remains above US$94 per tonne, 7 per cent above the lows hit a fortnight ago.
The banks also rose impressively, with the majors up by as much as 0.94 per cent. Westpac (WBC) was the best performer. Newly listed Smartgroup (SIQ) rose by 5.2 per cent today after slumping by 9.69 per cent on Wednesday.
On the economic front, retail spending fell 0.5 per cent in May, slipping for the second month. Sluggish consumer confidence following the federal budget has perhaps held some consumers back.
At the close, 1.98 billion shares were traded worth $4.47 billion. 632 stocks ended higher, 334 in the red and 341 finished unchanged.
Looking ahead tonight will be the most important evening of the week in the U.S. with the monthly jobs report out at 10.30pm (AEST). The market is expecting the creation of 213,000 jobs and no change to the unemployment rate. A strong lift in private non-farm payrolls is likely to be a driver. This is likely to influence the U.S. sharemarkets tonight depending on the outcome. The result could also set the tone for the Australian sharemarket tomorrow.
Tomorrow is set to be a quiet session across the region with no major data scheduled for release. The RBA head of stability, Luci Ellis is delivering a speech to the 2014 Economic and Social Outlook Conference. Tonight is the final session of the week in the U.S. due to the Independence Day public holiday on Friday.
The Australian dollar buys US93.6c and fell today following comments by the Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens who expressed some concern about the strength of the dollar. Perhaps a lengthier period of interest rate stability is certainly a possibility. Although a rate cut at this stage is unlikely, it can't be completely written off.
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