The Australian stock market recorded a poor performance last week and extended its losing streak to four sessions on Friday, as Investors contrasted a raft of company updates with sharp gains on Wall Street made amid optimism over corporate earnings trends. The benchmark ASX 200 index fell by 1.1% to 6006 points. Resources (Energy -4.3% and Materials -2.5%) and Telecom (-4.5%) stocks were at the forefront of losses. Consumer stocks took up residence on the other side of the spectrum.
According to ABS, Australian unemployment rate printed at 5.5% in December, a touch higher than the 5.4% economists had been expecting, while the number of jobs added to the economy soared to 34,700. Following this, the Australian dollar cracked the US80¢ level, hitting a fresh four-month high, before falling back to US79.68¢.
In the corporate news, Woodside reported a weaker production for the December quarter. Embattled department store retailer Myer appointed a new COO and CFO and said it is stepping up cost-cutting after posting an unprecedented fall in sales before Christmas. A2 Milk announced an expansion into the northeast region of the US, taking the number of American retail stores that stock its products to circa 5000 from 3600 currently. Vocus divided its enterprise and wholesale divisions into separate operating segments, in a bid to restore shareholder value following its $1.46 billion full-year loss in FY17.
Overseas, U.S. stocks rose to fresh highs as companies continued to indicate the tax overhaul will boost earnings this year. Treasuries fell with gold and the dollar climbed on speculation Congress will avert a government shutdown. China’s economy sealed its first full-year acceleration since 2010, underpinning global growth and giving authorities more room to purge excessive borrowing. Asian stocks were strong, maintaining their positive momentum for the most part of the week.