The Aussie market enjoyed solid gains last week, with the ASX 200 putting on 1% over the five sessions.
Banking stocks were amongst the best performers, with traders and investors buying them up ahead of upcoming dividend payments.
BHP also stood out, both for it’s appreciating share price and its plans to divest up to $20 billion in non-core assets under CEO Andrew McKenzie’s four pillars strategy; Iron ore, copper, petroleum and coal.
U.S. stocks recorded modest gains, bringing some of the major indexes to new highs during the week before pulling back on Friday.
Gains were strongest among mid-cap shares, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq recorded a loss due to a late sell-off among highly valued biotechnology shares and other “momentum” stocks.
Friday night brought additional good news on the labor front, although the market’s reaction was less enthusiastic.
The Labor Department reported a healthy increase in March payrolls, along with better gains than originally estimated in January and February.
In a report, payroll processing firm ADP said non-farm private employment rose by a seasonally adjusted 191,000 last month, below expectations for an increase of 195,000.
February’s figure was revised up to a gain of 178,000 from a previously reported increase of 139,000.
The market didn’t like the numbers however, with the Dow Jones tumbling 160 points (-1%) and the S&P 500 giving up 24 points (-1.3%).
In the commodity space, Gold futures jumped the most in three weeks after a government report showing U.S. job growth was less than expected triggered economic concerns, boosting demand for the metal as a store of value.
Gold futures for June delivery rose 1.5% to settle at $1,303.50 an ounce on the Comex in New York, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since March 12.
West Texas Intermediate and Brent crudes rose for a second session after U.S. employers increased payrolls in March, signaling fuel consumption may climb in the world’s biggest oil-consuming country.
WTI for May delivery increased 85 cents to settle at $101.14 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Prices slipped 0.5% last week. The volume of all futures traded was 9.1% below the 100-day average.
In the currency space, Canada’s dollar gained to the strongest level in more than six weeks after the economy added more jobs than forecast in March, rebounding from a decline the previous month, and the unemployment rate unexpectedly fell.
The Aussie dollar moved higher, on the back of U.S. dollar weakness, sending the local unit back towards the 93 handle.