Home » Australian shares inch up; local employment data in focus

Australian shares inch up; local employment data in focus

Australian shares ended marginally higher on Monday, driven by the gains in local energy stocks that overshadowed declines in domestic mining and gold stocks, while investors await local employment data due later in the week.

The S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.1% higher, after falling around 0.02% earlier in the session. The benchmark closed 0.3% higher on Friday.

Reports on strong U.S. wages and labor market data on Friday boosted hopes that the U.S. Federal Reserve would leave interest rates unchanged for the third time.

In Sydney, investor sentiment remained capped as they await local employment data on Dec. 14.

“Markets will be actively seeking clues to test the resilience of the Australian economy in the same way as the US counterparts,” said Glenn Yin, head of research and analysis at AETOS Capital Group.

Yin is expecting “reasonable optimism to ripple through to Aussie equities.”

Energy stocks closed up 1.2%, as oil prices gained on U.S. efforts to replenish strategic reserves.

Sector majors Woodside Energy and Santos , currently in the midst of a $52 billion merger talks, were up 1.5% and 0.6% respectively.

Heavyweight sub-index miners were in the red, falling 0.7% lower, tracking the weakness in global lithium prices.

“Lithium price has fallen 81% this year from oversupply concerns. Apart from that, lithium carbonate price in China has been quite volatile of late,” said Jessica Amir, market strategist at Moomoo.

Lithium miners Pilbara Minerals and Delta Lithium were down 3.0% and 2.2% respectively.

Domestic financial stocks ended 0.2% higher, with the “Big Four” banks advancing between 0.1% and 0.5%.

However, gold stocks fell 1.9% as prices dropped ahead of key U.S. data.

Gold miners Evolution Mining was flat, while Northern Star Resources fell 2.1%.

Across the Tasman Sea, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index ended marginally lower at 11,449.47 points.

($1 = 1.5260 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Shivangi Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Dhanya Ann Thoppil)