(Adds analysis, quotes, stocks on the move)
SYDNEY Feb 13 Australian shares slipped 0.1
percent in a choppy Thursday morning, after weak jobs numbers
tempered interest in firms reporting strong earnings.
The resources sector kept the market from going too far
backwards. BHP Billiton Ltd and Rio Tinto Ltd
rose 0.6 percent and 0.2 percent as copper bounced on Wednesday,
boosted by Chinese trade data showing record January imports.
Rio is due to report its results after the closing bell on
The S&P/ASX 200 index slipped 4.2 points to 5,305.9
by 0143 GMT, snapping five sessions of gains, its longest
winning streak since mid-October. The benchmark rose 1.1 percent
The positive sentiment sparked by the strong trade data from
China, Australia's biggest export market, gave way to some weak
domestic employment numbers.
Australian employment fell unexpectedly in January, driving
the jobless rate to its highest in over a decade.
"Certainly not good, another decline in jobs after a bigger
fall in December, the jobs market is still very weak as a
result," said Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP Capital
"My feeling is that as business gradually improves with
profit results, the labour market should start to improve in the
second half of the year."
The 'Big Four' banks reversed earlier gains after the
disappointing jobs data. Commonwealth Bank of Australia
and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group, which have
topped earnings expectations with their results this week, lost
0.2 percent and ANZ rose 0.1 percent.
National Australia Bank fell 0.3 percent.
Thursday's corporate results maintained the solid start to
Webjet Ltd surged more than 23 percent to a
one-month high of A$3.08, after the company posted a strong 64
percent jump in first half revenue to A$52.2 million.
Australian Securities Exchange Ltd reported a 10.8
percent rise in first-half profit, slightly ahead of market
forecasts, buoyed by a jump in share floats over the past six
months, but it also warned that costs were climbing.
Shares in ASX climbed 2 percent,
SingTel Ltd rose 1 percent as the company
said its third quarter net profit increased 6 percent to S$872
million ($688.62 million)
Elsewhere, Telstra Corporation Ltd added 0.8
percent after Australia's biggest phone company posted a 9.7
percent rise in the first-half net profit.
New Zealand's benchmark NZX 50 index edged 0.1
percent higher to 4,873.98.
($1 = 1.2663 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Thuy Ong; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)