Shares have slipped in noon trading after Australia’s unemployment rate rose more than expected amid the coronavirus lockdowns.

The S&P/ASX200 benchmark index was lower by 9 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6043.9 points at 1200 AEST, after trading in positive territory earlier in the session.

The All Ordinaries index was 7.3 points, or 0.12 per cent lower, at 6153.1.

Australia’s unemployment rate rose to a seasonally-adjusted 7.4 per cent in June as more people looked for work following the gradual easing in coronavirus-related lockdowns.

Economists had expected unemployment to be at 7.3 per cent.


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Among local stocks, the health sector was faring the worst, down 0.68 per cent. CSL lost 1.28 per cent to $283.64.

The consumer staples sector was also hit hard, down 0.57 per cent. Coles and Woolworths had losses of more than half a per cent.

However, other sectors managed to remain in the positive.

Major banks, which had a good start to trade following Goldman Sachs’ strong quarterly report overnight, remained higher.

ANZ Bank was up 0.11 per cent to $18.68, the Commonwealth gained 0.22 per cent to $72.89, NAB rose 0.83 per cent to $18.33 and Westpac climbed 0.39 per cent to $18.05.

The energy sector had been higher earlier after oil prices rose more than two per cent overnight, but had slipped to be lower by 0.2 per cent.

Oil Search had the best gain of major sector companies, higher by 0.65 per cent to $3.12.

The big miners were mostly lower. BHP dropped 0.58 per cent to $37.78, Rio lost 1.46 per cent to $103.45 while Fortescue rose by 0.75 per cent to $16.15.

Shares in jewellery group Michael Hill were higher by 4.92 per cent to 32 cents after chief executive Daniel Bracken said online sales had boomed in the fourth quarter and all markets were trading better than last year’s first quarter figures. Overnight, US markets closed higher after biotech group Moderna said a small-scale study showed its experimental COVID-19 vaccine produced high levels of virus-killing antibodies. Investor enthusiasm was also boosted by a Federal Reserve survey showing an uptick in US business activity in early July as states eased restrictions to contain the virus, helping all three major US indices closed between 0.6 and 0.9 per cent higher.

The Australian dollar fell below 70 US cents after the jobs rate was announced. It was trading at 69.95 US cents at 1200 AEST, down from 70.02 US cents at Wednesday’s close.