Australian shares have closed the day weaker after soft local job figures and weak economic data out of China weighed on a market already under pressure from overnight falls on Wall Street.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 6.9 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 6,016.6 points, while the broader All Ordinaries was down 3.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6,129.6 points.
Australia’s unemployment rate showed a surprise drop to 5.4 per cent in data released on Thursday but CMC Markets chief market strategist Michael McCarthy said the overall data was disappointing and likely affected investor sentiment.
“Even though the unemployment rate fell, there was a loss of full-time jobs and the number of hours worked declined,” Mr McCarthy told AAP.
The headline jobless rate for May hit its lowest level since November but job creation came in at 12,000, below expectation, with a drop in full-time positions of 20,600.
Telstra gained strongly, up 5.1 per cent to $2.90 following an upgrade on the outlook for the telco giant from analysts at JP Morgan.
Telstra remains well down on its $3.20 price before its shock earnings warning in May.
Australian shares had a weak overnight lead from Wall Street, which dropped after the US Federal Reserve lifted rates by a quarter of a percentage point and projected an acceleration in the pace of upcoming rate rises.
Around midday China reported weaker than expected industrial activity data for May, putting further pressure on local stocks.
The mining sector was up after tumbling at the start of last week.
Rio Tinto gained 0.6 per cent to $84.62, BHP Billiton added 0.4 per cent to $33.38, while Fortescue Metals, which remains in the midst of the battle for junior Pilbara miner Atlas Iron, was up 2.2 per cent at $4.65
Financial stocks remained in negative territory, with all four major banks lower in the wake of the US rate hike news.
Energy stocks were mixed despite a drop in global oil prices, with Santos down 0.7 per cent at $5.82 and Origin Energy down 0.5 per cent to $9.70, although Woolside Petroleum was up 0.3 per cent at $33.72.
The Australian dollar dipped slightly through the day to 75.53 US cents at 1700 AEST, down from 75.69 US cents on Wednesday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was down 6.9 points, or 0.11 per cent, at 6,016.6 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 3.5 points, or 0.06 per cent, at 6,129.6 points.
* The SPI200 futures contract was down 2 point, or 0.03 per cent, at 6,025.0 points
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 75.53 US cents, from 75.69 US cents on Wednesday
* 83.11 Japanese yen, from 83.70 yen
* 63.92 euro cents, from 64.46 euro cents
* 56.35 British pence, from 56.67 pence
* 107.38 NZ cents, from 108.04 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,302.86 per fine ounce, from $US1,294.67 per fine ounce on Wednesday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent May 2021, 2.1282pct, from 2.1715pct on Wednesday
* CGS 4.75pct May 2028, 2.7235pct, from 2.7768pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.2725 (implying a yield of 2.7275pct), from 97.210 (2.790pct) on Wednesday
* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.825 (2.175pct), from 97.80 (2.20pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)