Australia shares fall, strong jobs data fails to bolster market
Sydney Dec 6 (Reuters) - Australian shares slipped 0.3 percent on Thursday, led by weaknesss in the banking sector after investors ignored surprisingly strong jobs data and worried that the central bank may not have done enough to shore up the domestic economy.
Australian employment outstripped expectations for a second month in November and the jobless rate surprised everyone with a drop to 5.2 percent, an encouraging report that could lessen the urgency for more rate cuts.
"The market has struggled to hold ground today despite positive overnight leads and an unemployment number which bucked the trend," said Ben Taylor, sales trader at CMC Markets.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index finished 11.1 points lower to 4,509.3. The benchmark rose 0.4 percent on Wednesday.
Banks were soft, with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia losing the most, down 1.2 percent.
Some defensives were weak with telecommunications giant Telstra dropping 0.2 percent while supermarket giant Woolworths lost 0.4 percent.
The Reserve Bank of Australia cut its main cash rate to 3.0 percent at its monthly policy meeting on Tuesday, equalling the low hit during the global financial crisis.
On Wednesday, the country reported that the economy grew 0.5 percent in the third quarter, the slowest pace in a year-and-a-half.
"The broader issue is that people have been mulling over whether the RBA has done enough to help the banks and to help the domestic economy," said Damien Boey, equity strategist at Credit Suisse.
"You've got America facing its fiscal cliff and you have Europe with its sovereign debt problems. So when you put all of that together it doesn't suggest that world growth is very strong."
Losses however, were pared by optimism for miners after Chinese Communist Party chief Xi Jinping said the country will craft economic policies next year to ensure stable economic growth.
Addressing a politburo meeting, Xi said the government aimed to stabilise exports as the world's second-largest economy faced both favourable factors and challenges next year.
Bellwether miners BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd helped pare losses, gaining 0.4 percent and 1 percent respectively.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.4 percent, or 16.1 points to 4.023.4. (Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)