• SYDNEY, AAP – Momentum has eased on the Australian share market after the ASX200 closed at a post-pandemic high on Wednesday.The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was lower by seven points, or 0.09 per cent, to 7016.1 at 1200 AEST.

    The index traded lower for the first two hours and at one stage dipped below the 7000 level to 6988.6.

    The index on Wednesday closed at its highest level since February last year, 7023.1.

    The All Ordinaries on Thursday was down by 1.4 points, or 0.01 per cent, to 7279.2 points.

    Among the sectors, health had the greatest decline, 1.08 per cent.

    Telecommunications was down 0.98 per cent, while the heavyweight financial sector dropped 0.34 per cent.

    Energy and materials were doing well, higher by 1.1 and 0.97 per cent respectively.

    Wall Street indices closed mostly lower. The Nasdaq Composite and S&P 500 fell despite a record intraday high for the latter.

    US banks produced results on the first day of earnings season.

    The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 53.62 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 33,730.89, and the S&P 500 lost 16.93 points, or 0.41 per cent, at 4,124.66. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 138.26 points, or 0.99 per cent, to 13,857.84.

    In Australia, the unemployment rate unexpectedly dropped to 5.6 per cent prior to the JobKeeper wage subsidy ending in March.

    The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the number of people employed in March rose by 70,700, more than double what economists had been expecting.

    The Aussie dollar slipped slightly after the figures were published but has improved since Wednesday to buy 77 US cents.

    On the ASX, Bank of Queensland posted increases in first-half cash earnings and profit, and says its retail business has improved through a growing number of home loans.

    The bank reported cash earnings after tax rose nine per cent to $165 million.

    Net profit after tax surged by 66 per cent to $154 million.

    Shares were lower by 1.23 per cent to $8.79.

    Its big four rivals were all down by less than one per cent.

    Fuel provider Ampol reported first quarter earnings rose to $150 million from $142 million in the same quarter last year.

    The fuels and infrastructure earnings rose 11 per cent to $85 million, which boss Matt Halliday said was a strong result given increases in crude oil prices.

    He said he expected to see greater demand for fuel in Australia as the year progresses.

    Shares were up 5.69 per cent to $25.80.

    Buy now, pay later provider Zip had its shares trading again after late on Thursday offering $400 million in convertible notes.

    The notes are due in 2028 and convertible to fully paid shares.

    Zip shares were in a trading halt on Wednesday, but have since resumed trading and were last sold lower by 0.31 per cent to $9.58.

    There were good gains in mining. BHP was up 1.97 per cent to $46.92, Fortescue was better by 2.07 per cent to $20.66 and Rio Tinto rose 1.58 per cent to $116.14.

    The Australian dollar was buying 77.24 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher from 76.76 US cents at Wednesday’s close.