MELBOURNE, Nov 8 Australian shares fell 0.8
percent on Thursday, paring steeper losses after local October
employment figures topped expectations with a steady jobless
rate of 5.4 percent, a modestly encouraging report that boosted
the local dollar.
"The full-time component has been up for four consecutive
months now," said Su-Lin Ong, senior economist at RBC Capital
"You've got to take the numbers at face value and they
suggest a moderate-type economy," she said.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was down 35 points
at 4,481.2 by 0332 GMT, off a session low of 4,459.9. It rose
0.7 percent to 4,516.5 on Wednesday, a one-week closing high.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index rose 0.2
percent to 3,954.2.
The market started out lower in a broad-based drop
spearheaded by losses in top miners, energy firms, banks and
telecom Telstra Corp after all major U.S. stock indexes
fell more than 2 percent.
Following U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election,
investor attention turned to the looming "fiscal cliff" debate
in the United States and Europe's economic troubles, and copper
dropped to a two-month low and Brent crude fell nearly 4
"Our equities market now will be in a bit of a risk-off
phase," said Credit Suisse equity strategist Damien Boey.
In the short term, he said defensives and larger resource
companies may be flat to up but banks could retreat, with the
overall market unlikely to sustain an advance.
"I'd be expecting the market to pull back a bit. Our batting
order at this stage is defensives, resources, banks," he said.
STOCKS ON THE MOVE:
* Cabcharge fell 6 percent after it lost bus
service contracts in two areas in New South Wales state.
* ANZ Banking Group sank 4 percent as it traded
* Lynas shares were placed on a trading halt pending a
decision by the Kuantan high court relating to its licence to
operate a plant in Malaysia which is opposed by locals.
* Linc Energy, a company that has produced diesel
and jet fuel from gas released from underground coal, rose 5
percent on reports it may attract investment from Russian
billionaire Roman Abramovich.
(Reporting by Miranda Maxwell; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)