Positive signs from China, US to buoy sharemarket

The Australian sharemarket is expected to open higher on Monday after the release of strong US jobs figures and mixed data in China, as investors await further news on the strength of the retail sector with the nation's biggest department store Myer to release its half-year result on Thursday.

The Australian sharemarket is expected to open higher on Monday after the release of strong US jobs figures and mixed data in China, as investors await further news on the strength of the retail sector with the nation's biggest department store Myer to release its half-year result on Thursday.

Australian futures markets are pointing to a 20-point gain at the open after the US unemployment rate fell to 7.7 per cent on Friday.

AMP Capital economist Shane Oliver said investors would be buoyed by the momentum in the US and gains in Europe on Friday.

"The only complication is the mixed data released from China yesterday which may confuse investors because inflation was slightly higher and industrial production and retail sales were somewhat weaker, particular retail sales," Dr Oliver said.

"That could create some confusion and act as bit of a drag on resources stocks, depending on how investors interpret the Chinese data.

"But overall I'd expect we'll have a fairly decent gain."

Chinese inflation hit a 10-month high last month while growth in industrial production and retail sales slowed, official data released on Saturday showed.

Meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a record for the fourth straight session on Friday helped by solid jobs data that was nonetheless seen as unlikely to move the Fed to tighten monetary policy. The Labour Department reported that the economy generated a net 236,000 new jobs in February, far more than expected, pulling the unemployment rate down to 7.7 per cent from 7.9 per cent.

At the local close on Friday, the key S&P/ASX 200 index was 14.2 points, or 0.28 per cent, higher at 5123.4, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 14.4 points, or 0.28 per cent, at 5137.5. Both indices finished the week almost three-quarters of a per cent higher.

National Australia Bank's monthly business survey is due on Tuesday followed by the Westpac/Melbourne Institute survey of consumer sentiment and housing finance data on Wednesday.

National jobs figures are due out on Thursday.

Myer will release its half-year profit result on Thursday, with investors and analysts looking for an insight into retail conditions over Christmas and how discretionary retailers such as Myer performed in the crucial holiday trading season. David Jones will issue its half-year result on March 20.

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