THE sharemarket dipped yesterday, but only slightly, after China's producer price index fell more rapidly than expected last month, and Australia's job market showed signs of slowing.
Investors were juggling a mix of influences, including Rio Tinto's profit result released after the market closed on Wednesday and Telstra's result, which delivered its first annual profit in three years.
Riskier assets remained in favour, as they had been for the past few days, with mining, resource and energy stocks gaining ground.
But the S&P/ASX 200 Index fell 4.3 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 4308.3.
Data from the Bureau of Statistics showed the unemployment rate fell to 5.2 per cent last month, down from 5.3 per cent in June.
But despite the good news, economists said the data showed signs that the labour market was losing momentum. "Employment growth has slowed measurably over the past year from a 1.7 per cent annual rate last July to a more pedestrian 0.6 per cent rate by this July," said NAB senior economist David de Garis.
News that Chinese inflation was in line with expectations was welcomed, though investors had some concerns that Chinese producer prices had fallen more rapidly than expected, and that industrial production and retail sales were also weaker. But analysts cautioned against reading negatively into the data.
"We are still talking about 13.2 per cent year-on-year industrial production growth, this is not an economic rout," said UBS's Paul Donovan.
Telstra lost 9? to $3.88, despite delivering its first increase in annual profit in three years and adding 1.6 million customers to its mobile network.
News Corp dropped 73? to $21.88 after suffering a 55 per cent slide in profit during 2012. The company said it was expecting moderate earnings growth this financial year.
Tabcorp fell 11? to $3.20 after its annual net profit fell to $340 million in the year to June 30, from $534.8 million in 2010-11, largely as the result of the demerger of its casinos business.
Rio Tinto surged $1.97 to $56.86. On Wednesday, Rio predicted a quick recovery in the pace of China's growth after the miner's profits fell, due in part to weaker demand from China. With AGENCIES