The tables reversed on Thursday, as the Australian share market finished narrowly lower, despite the unemployment rate dropping to a 10-year low of 4.9%.
At the closing bell, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index slid -18.8 points, or -0.26%, to 7,335.9, while the All Ordinaries lost -15.2 points, or -0.20%, to 7,616.6.
Apart from Materials, Utilities, nine sectors weighed on the index, with Health Care, Information Technology, Real Estate sinking over -1%.
On a bright note, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), the Australian June unemployment rate dropped from 5.1% to 4.9%, with almost 30,000 jobs created in June, its lowest level in more than a decade (December 2010).
Altogether, the unemployment rate has declined for eight months in a row.
In other data, growth in Chinese factory activity and retail sales declined less than expected last month from rebound-fuelled levels, but quarterly GDP narrowly missed expectations.
Second-quarter GDP rose 7.9% vs 8.0% forecast, after rising 18.3% previously, with June retail sales Y/Y rose 12.1% vs 10.8% expected, while Industrial production Y/Y rose 8.3% vs 7.9% expected, and Fixed assets ex-rural YTD Y/Y rose 12.6% vs 12% forecast.
ASX bumpy ride started with Health Care as it tumbles -1.40%, with Biotechnology giant CSL falling -1.67% to $275.15, while ResMed fell -0.36% to $33.40, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare slid -0.07%, to $28.68, and Cochlear lost -1.17%, to $239.99.
Technology stocks also gave the ASX some turbulence as ‘Buy-now-pay-later’ giant Afterpay plummeted -2.28%, to $104.56, while Zip Co drop -5.6%, to $6.91, while accounting software provider Xero lost -2.32%, to $134.46, Altium added +0.89%, to $37.59, EML lost -1.06%, to $3.72, and Nearmap ended -2.7% lower to $2.16.
Materials, however, shined on Thursday, with Rio Tinto leading the titans higher after climbing +2.23%, to $131.14, while BHP Group added +1.12% to $51.53, with Fortescue Metals Group gaining +2.06%, to $25.72.
Gold stocks were firmer, with Newcrest Mining rising +1.5% to $27.01, Northern Star Resources rose +2.07% to $10.85, and Evolution Mining Ltd added +2.7% to $4.95.
Travel stocks were weaker, with Qantas falling -0.64% to $4.68, with Sydney Airport added +0.13%, to $7.81, after knocking back a takeover proposal from a consortium of investors.
The board said the unsolicited, conditional, and non-binding offer of $8.25 per share undervalued the airport and was “not in the best interests of Securityholders”.
Meanwhile, Corporate Travel Management sliding -3.29%, to $20.57, Flight Centre ended lower after falling -2.58% to $14.71, Webjet fell -2.82%, to $4.83 while Regional Express lost -0.82% at $1.21.
As for our oil and gas producers, Woodside Petroleum slid -0.99% to $22.97, while Oil Search ended up +0.52% at $3.89, Santos rose +0.14% to $7.06, Beach Energy rose +0.78% to $1.285, and Worley lost -0.26%, to $11.48.
The Financial sector ended in negative territory with Westpac Banking Corp leading the “Fab Four” (banks) lower after settling at a -1.11% loss at $24.99, while Australia and New Zealand Banking Group fell -0.58% to $27.49,
Commonwealth Bank ended at $98.31, down -0.48%, National Australia Bank fell -0.91%, to $26.02 and Macquarie Group tumbled -0.85% and settled at $153.71.
Supermarket giants Coles ended flat at $17.00, while Woolworths lost -0.49% to $38.33 and Endeavour Group rose +0.63%, to $6.34.
E-commerce group Kogan dropped -2.31% and settled at $11.41, while Seek fell -2.06% to $32.25.
Spark Infrastructure jumped +6.05% to $2.63 after confirming it had received and rejected two conditional, non-binding offers from a consortium including the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board and U.S. investment giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR).
Meanwhile, our local currency, the Australian dollar, is currently buying US$0.7436 (as of writing).