Local sentiment was dented further after reports showed another big drop in consumer sentiment and a surprise rise in Australia’s unemployment rate.
Yet despite the volatility, the ASX 200 climbed 67 points (+1.6%), closing at 4173.
Telstra (ASX:TLS) was another big mover among the blue chips, rising 5.5% after its full year profit topped estimates.
Newscorp (ASX:NWS) was a market outperformer (+11.3%) after its quarterly profit jumped 45%.
Among the retailers, JB Hifi (ASX:JBH) surged more than 10% after flagging a lift in FY12 sales. Harvey Norman (ASX:HVN) slipped despite reporting a modest rise in its FY11 sales.
Poor domestic economic data was a key driver of last week’s market volatility.
On the employment front, the ANZ Job ads survey pointed to a continued slowdown in employer hiring intentions. The latest survey showed the number of job ads declining 0.5% in July.
The bleak jobs picture was made worse after data showed Australia’s unemployment rate unexpectedly rising from 4.9% in June, to 5.1% in July.
The economy also shed 100 jobs in July, which was far below expectations of a 10,200 gain.
The poor jobs data, along with slumping business and consumer confidence, has raised the odds of a rate cut by the RBA in coming months.
Overseas Market and Commodity Wrap
It was a rollercoaster ride on global markets last week, with the US economy and Europe’s debt crisis weighing heavily on investor minds.
In the US, the Dow swung more than 400 points in four consecutive sessions – the first time in history – as the Fed affirmed plans to leave interest rates at zero until mid-2013.
The Fed’s statement went someway to easing the market’s nerves, although the Dow (-1.5%), S&P500 (-1.7%) and Nasdaq (-0.9%) still ended the week in negative territory.
In Europe, the ECB began buying Italian and Spanish bonds in an attempt to reign in the two countries’ soaring interest rates.
However investors remained sceptical over the region’s debt, with the German DAX in particular, sliding 3.8%. The French CAC dropped 2%, whilst the UK FTSE surprisingly gained 1.4% for the week.
Asian markets were hit hard on concerns a global economic slowdown will sap demand for their exports. The Hang Seng tumbled 6.3%, the Shanghai Composite fell 1.3%, and the Nikkei dropped 3.6%.
The risk aversion spurred a major flight into safe-haven assets, with gold surging 5.6%. Oil clawed back some heavy early losses but still ended the week down 1.7%.
A resurgent US dollar weighed on other commodities, with copper giving up 1.9% and nickel shedding 4.9%.