Solid jobs data offset by fears over carbon tax

'The figures were really good and should have been well received.'

THE stockmarket ended flat as gains in the retail sector were offset by losses caused by uncertainty over the government's carbon price plans.

The S&P/ASX200 index rose 0.5 points to 4605.5, and the All Ordinaries rose 2.5 points to 4666.1.

The September share price index futures contract was six points lower at 4585, with 30,171 contracts traded.

The director of equities at RBS Morgans, Bill Chatterton, said the market received only a small boost from positive labour force figures, mainly in the retail sector.

The data showed the unemployment rate remained steady at 4.9 per cent in June.

"The figures were really good and that should have been received well," Mr Chatterton said. "But the market at the moment is in a bearish mood and it doesn't give proper value to good news that comes out."

The surfwear retailer Billabong rose 20? to $6.24, Myer rose 6?, or 2.33 per cent, to $2.63, JB Hi-Fi rose 39? to $16.98 and David Jones rose 7? to $3.97.

Mr Chatterton said investors were cautious because of debt concerns in Europe and the United States, but uncertainty about the composition of the carbon scheme was also a factor.

"It is having, no question, a very significant negative impact, and it's going to take some time before everyone can understand the way it will play out and what the impacts will be," he said.

The resources sector was mixed. BHP Billiton fell 3? to $44.42 and Rio Tinto 5? to $83.55. Rio's majority-owned miner Coal & Allied bounced back from losses on Wednesday, rising $2.60 to close at $102.71.

The price of gold in Sydney closed at $US1532.93 an ounce, up $US15.75. Newcrest rose 35? to $38.50.

News Corp fell 62?, or 3.61 per cent, to $16.55, amid a backlash over the phone hacking scandal in Britain. News's non-voting scrip fell 66?, or 3.95 per cent, to $16.07.

A Fat Prophets analyst, Greg Fraser, said the falls were an overreaction, since newspapers made only a small contribution to News Corp's earnings compared with its television assets.

National turnover was 1.75 billion shares worth $4.1 billion.

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