Commodity prices slip as impasse in Washington drags on

Commodity price falls have driven local stocks lower despite the release of positive job numbers.

Commodity price falls have driven local stocks lower despite the release of positive job numbers.

The market remained weak on Thursday as continuing uncertainty in the US caused commodity price falls, which in turn affected mining stocks.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was down 5.9 points at 5147.1, while the broader All Ords fell 5.4 points to 5146.2.

Gold, copper and oil prices fell as the lingering US government shutdown stirred worries about demand for raw materials.

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the local bourse improved slightly after the release of firm jobs data, but it was not enough to push it into firm positive territory.

"The key driver at the moment is negotiations around the debt ceiling," Ms Lee said.

"During the Asian session the US futures were up and that's the key reason we've seen improved sentiment on the Australian market."

She said investors overlooked positive news showing Australia's jobless rate fell to 5.6 per cent in September, down from 5.8 per cent in August.

The big miners were mixed, with BHP Billiton down 21¢ at $34.62, but Rio Tinto rose 1¢ to $60.21 and Fortescue Metals added 10¢ to $4.88.

Gold stocks suffered, with Newcrest Mining down 29¢, or 2.65 per cent, at $10.64.

The banks were mixed, with ANZ up 10¢ at $30.55 and Westpac up 3¢ to $32.20. National Australia Bank was down 9¢ at $34.17 and Commonwealth Bank fell 22¢ to $70.80.

Bank of Queensland gained 70¢ to $11.15 after lifting its full-year cash profit to $251 million, due to a reduction in bad debts.

The gold price was $US1307.55 an ounce, down $US6.73.

The dollar lost ground to US94.07¢ in late trade, from US94.33¢.

The bond market was also slightly weaker after better than expected employment data encouraged some investors to move into riskier assets.

Economists attributed the surprise fall in unemployment to a slight drop to 64.9 per cent in the number of people participating in the workforce.

Commonwealth Bank fixed-income quantitative strategist Philip Brown said bond prices fell after the surprisingly low jobless rate was released.

The December 10-year bond futures contract was trading at 95.875 (implying a yield of 4.125 per cent), down from 95.955 (4.045 per cent), while the three-year contract was at 96.850 (3.150 per cent), down from 96.890 (3.110 per cent).

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