SYDNEY, AAP – Australia’s share market was having its best performance of the week while jobless figures for August showed a surprising drop.
The market was higher by 0.75 per cent at 1200 AEST on Thursday after Wall Street closed higher following positive US economic data.
Energy shares were the best performing category on the ASX after oil prices rose.
There has been a drawdown in US crude inventories on expectations demand will improve as more people are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Materials, telecommunications and utilities shares were also more than one per cent higher.
The Australian unemployment rate eased to 4.5 per cent from 4.6 per cent but there was a telling reason behind the unexpected drop.
The number of people looking for work dropped as many postpone their efforts during lockdowns in ACT, NSW and Victoria.
The Australian dollar dipped in the wake of the jobs figures but held within the 73 US cents bracket.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was higher by 56.1 points, or 0.75 per cent, to 7473.1.
The All Ordinaries was up by 52 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 7775.2.
A positive US lead was shaped by economic data which showed hints of waning inflation and a return to economic normality. Import prices posted their first monthly decline since October 2020.
On the ASX, Wesfarmers looks like it may have sealed a deal to buy Australian Pharmaceutical Industries (API) for $1.55 per share.
The two companies have signed a deed as Wesfarmers pursues starting a pharmaceuticals division.
Shares in API, which owns Priceline Pharmacy, surged by 16.9 per cent to $1.48.
Wesfarmers shares were little changed at $56.67.
Among the energy providers benefiting from the higher oil price was Beach. Its shares were up 3.27 per cent to $1.10.
Market giant BHP was up 1.93 per cent to $41.04 after a loss of 3.52 per cent the day prior.
BlueScope Steel and South32 had gains of more than three per cent.
In banking, the big four banks were all higher by less than one per cent.
Telstra has a new three-year strategy to expand 5G coverage and capitalise on shifts in how customers live and work in the post-coronavirus world.
Boss Andy Penn has pinned the telecommunications giant’s future growth on a plan called T25 due to officially begin on July 1 next year when the current T22 project concludes.
Shares were up 1.9 per cent to $4.00.
Myer has returned to full-year profit and the turnaround may ease pressure on its embattled board members.
The company reported net profit after tax of $46.4 million for the 53 weeks to July 31. This followed a loss in the year prior of $172.4 million.
Solomon Lew, the chair of shareholder Premier Investments, has repeatedly claimed Myer has performed poorly in recent years and has called on board members to resign.
Shares were up 9.8 per cent to 56 cents.
The Australian dollar was buying 73.36 US cents at 1200 AEST, higher than 73.18 US cents at Wednesday’s close