The ASX 200 dropped 32 point (-0.7%) for the week, settling at 4711.
The two mining majors were mixed, with BHP Billiton (BHP) down 0.6% and Rio Tinto (RIO) rising 0.7%.
Incitec Pivot (IPL) gave up 3.4% despite reporting a rise in first half underlying profit.
OneSteel (OST) Bluescope Steel (BSL) were also hit hard after cutting their profit forecasts due to the strong Aussie dollar.
Spotless Group (SPT) led the industrials higher after receiving a takeover offer. SPT was the market’s best performer for the week, surging 18.7%.
Treasury Wine Estate (TWE) began trading on the ASX for the first time last week. The former wine division of Foster’s Group (FGL) rose more than 7%.
Among the retailers, Myer Holdings (MYR) and David Jones (DJS) struggled after both announced a decline in 3Q11 sales.
Commonwealth Bank (CBA) also reported its 3Q11 results last week. The banking giant declined 1.7% despite posting a $1.7 billion cash profit for the quarter.
The key economic event last week was the domestic jobs report. The economy shed 21,500 jobs in April, much weaker than expected. However, the unemployment rate was steady at 4.9%.
There was a series of local economic releases last week, with the key focus being on jobs data.
Things kicked off on Monday with the ANZ job ads survey. According to the survey, the number of jobs advertised increased 1% in April, helped by a 1.2% rise in internet ads. However newspaper ads fell 3.4% over the month. The data set the scene for unemployment data later in the week.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Australia’s trade balance moved from a revised $87 million deficit in February, to a $1.74 billion surplus in March. The result came in well ahead of economist expectations of a $500 million surplus.
Driving the trade surplus was a solid jump in exports compared to a more modest rise in imports.
The strong Aussie dollar failed to dent the country’s export of minerals, which surged on the back of demand from Asia.
Jobs data shocked the market on Thursday, coming in much weaker than expected.
Australia’s economy shed 21,500 jobs in April, compared to economist expectations of a 17,000 gain. The unemployment rate remained at 4.9%.
Weighing on the result was a 49,100 plunge in full-time jobs, with most of those losses coming in non-mining states.
Nevertheless, the fall in employment may have been exaggerated by the extended holiday period in April. The Aussie dollar fell sharply on the news, but most economists still expect the RBA to resume tightening policy soon.
Most equity and commodity markets fell last week, as doubts lingered about the sustainability of the global economic recovery.
US markets lost ground on Friday to give up gains posted earlier in the week.
All three key American indices finished almost unchanged from a week earlier, with the Dow up 0.1%, the Nasdaq flat and the S&P 500 down 0.1%.
The UK market was weaker, losing almost 1% for the week despite rising oil prices.
Asian markets mostly closed the week with losses, with the Hang Seng down 0.5% and the Nikkei shedding 2.9% after its recent bounce back to 10000 points. The Aussie market shed 0.7% for the week.
The Chinese market was the exception in Asia, up 4.8% for the week.
In the commodities space, most contracts closed lower last week as the recent shake-out continued.
The biggest winner was oil, which finished the week up 2.5% despite some large swings during the week.
Gold prices held up, closing the week up 0.3%, although other precious metals didn’t fare so well.
Silver continued its recent slump, down 3.9% for the week. Palladium dropped 1.5% and platinum shed 1.1%.
Base metals mostly closed lower, although with much more modest losses than seen the previous week. Zinc was the sole winner, ending up 0.6%, while all the others lost between 0.5% and 1%.