Key Data for the Week
Key economic data released this week:
The Australian sharemarket closed slightly lower on Friday, as falls in the Financials, Materials and Energy sectors outweighed improvements among Health Care and Utilities stocks. Over the week, the ASX 200 was up 1.1%, recovering some of the previous week’s losses.
In earnings news: Medibank Private closed 3.6% higher on a solid 1H18 earnings result; IOOF Holdings closed 2.2% lower with its profit weighed down by costs and impairments related to last year’s ANZ Wealth acquisition; and Whitehaven Coal closed 4.5% lower after its earnings result missed consensus, although the company announced it will be resuming dividend payments.
The Australian futures market points to a 0.12% fall today.
European sharemarkets rose for a third straight day, driven by strong earnings results. A Thomson Reuters report on fourth quarter results stated “European fourth-quarter earnings are expected to rise 14.6%, an upwards revision from last week's forecast of 11%’’. The STOXX Europe 600 continued its strong rebound, ending the session 1.1% higher on Friday, to close up 3.3% for the week. The German DAX rose 0.9% and the UK FTSE 100 added 0.8%.
US sharemarkets were mixed on Friday, as traders looked to lock in gains made ahead of the long weekend. The Dow Jones closed up 0.1% and the S&P 500 posted a slight rise of less than 0.1%, to record its best weekly gain in five years. However, the NASDAQ slipped 0.2% for the session.
It went largely unnoticed last week, but Australia’s job market continues to show improvement.
While the pace of employment growth recorded in January is lower than the 2017 average, the rate is still sufficient enough to bring down the unemployment rate over time. The unemployment rate edged down to 5.50% in January, from December’s revised 5.60%.
The participation rate ticked down a fraction, by 0.1% to 65.6%, but is still near the highest level since early 2011 and close to a record high.
There continues to be progress in reducing spare capacity, but until the labour market is closer to full employment, currently estimated by the RBA at 5.0%, wages growth is not expected to pick up substantially.
RBA commentary of recent weeks suggest a rate hike does not seem likely in the near term, while spare capacity still persists.
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