Market nudges back above 5000 level
The sharemarket bounced back to close above the key 5000-point mark for the first time in a month amid hopes interest rates will fall.
At the close on Thursday, the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 39.1 points, or 0.79 per cent, at 5007.1. The broader All Ordinaries was 36.6 points, or 0.74 per cent, stronger at 5010.3.
The rally was driven by the financial sector, which rose 1.3 per cent. Energy added 0.8 per cent, consumer staples gained 1.2 per cent and industrials 0.4 per cent. Offsetting the gains was the materials sector, which fell 0.7 per cent.
Buying, especially in interest-rate sensitive stocks, picked up after data showed employment fell a steeper than expected 36,100 in March, raising the odds of another rate cut by the Reserve Bank.
Official figures showing the unemployment rate hitting a 3 -year high of 5.6 per cent in March fuelled hopes the RBA could start cutting rates again soon.
Financial stocks rebounded from falls during the previous session to lead the market higher.
"The banks provided the ballast while the rest of the market wilted over the course of the trading session," CMC Markets strategist Michael McCarthy said.
ANZ closed 44¢ higher at $28.69, while Commonwealth Bank lifted 75¢ to $68.05, National Australia Bank improved 40¢ to $31.60, and Westpac advanced 60¢ to $31.53.
Weaker commodities prices put pressure on resources players, with goldminers faring the worst.
"There's increasing nervousness in commodity pricing, particularly that weakness in gold," Mr McCarthy said.
Juliette Saly, market analyst at CommSec, said it was encouraging to see the local market trading around the 5000-point mark.
Goldminers were weaker after the bullion price slipped 1.5 per cent as the market digested plans by Cyprus to sell reserves to raise cash. Newcrest dropped 19¢ to $19.56, OceanaGold fell 15¢ to $2.43 and Alacer Gold lost 7¢ to $3.60.
Among other resources stocks, BHP Billiton dropped 28¢ to $33.40, and Rio Tinto lost 25¢ to $58.03. Elsewhere, retailer Woolworths rose 48¢ to $34.37 on news of a 2.5 per cent rise in quarterly sales to $14.4 billion. Coles owner Wesfarmers firmed 42¢ to $40.54.
The dollar hit a fresh 10-week high, but lost ground following disappointing jobs figures. Late on Thursday it was trading at US105.21¢, up from US105.09¢ on Wednesday.