STOCKS snapped a four-day losing streak yesterday as surprisingly good job figures added to improving investor confidence about the state of the global economy.
The S&P/ASX 200 Index posted its best session this month, closing at the day's high of 4280.6, a gain of
34.5 points or 0.8 per cent.
The economy added 44,000 jobs last month, about seven times the number analysts expected. The result prompted investors to pile into the dollar, propelling it almost US1? higher. In late trading it was above the $US1.04 level.
Comments by new Ten Network chief James Warburton that the advertising market was showing signs of reduced volatility helped spark a rally among media stocks.
Ten traded in a 7 per cent range, bouncing off a three-year low to close 2? higher for the day, or 2.6 per cent, at 78?.
APN News & Media fared even better, jumping 4?, or 4.8 per cent, to 87?, while Fairfax Media rose 2?, or
2.8 per cent, to 74.5?.
CMC Markets sales trader Ben Taylor said that while the positive jobs figures helped, many investors remain cautious about the market's prospects. "Given the volatility and the lack of people trading at the moment, I think it's going to take quite a lot before you see mum and dad investors dipping their toes back in the water."
Billionaire Kerry Stokes is one investor dipping in. His Seven Group yesterday revealed it had bought the local arm of US mining parts and services business Bucyrus for $389.39 million. Seven-owned WesTrac, the Caterpillar heavy machinery dealer in New South Wales, the ACT and Western Australia, will take on Bucyrus' business in those states.
Seven shares rallied on the deal, rising 53?, or 5.3 per cent, to $10.34 leading all stocks on the top 200 and closing above $10 for the first time in more than four years.
The big banks all advanced, NAB rising 28? to $24.58, Westpac 15? to $22.05, ANZ 21? to $22.98, and Commonwealth 16? to $49.76.
BHP Billiton ended the day 31? higher at $33.90 while Rio Tinto put on 94? to $64.46.
Minerals sands miner Iluka was steady at $17.27 after its production and revenue fell in the first quarter of 2012.
Laos-focused miner PanAust climbed 16?, or 5.4 per cent, to $3.13, trailing only Seven among the gainers on the ASX 200.
Shares in Flinders Mines were in a trading halt pending the outcome of court action aimed at preventing the iron ore explorer's $554 million takeover by a Russian steel maker. Flinders last traded at 22?.