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Mining stocks drag Aust shares backwards

The Australian share market has finished slightly lower for a second day running as mining stocks dipped but better-than-expected jobs growth helped lift the Australian dollar back around 80 US cents territory after an overnight dip.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 finished the day down 5.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,738.7 points.

Official figures released on Thursday showed that Australia's unemployment rate was steady at 5.6 per cent in August but the economy added far more jobs than expected.

The Australian dollar had slipped to around 79.7 US cents overnight as hopes of progress on long-awaited US tax reform fuelled the greenback.

But the Aussie spiked to 80.16 US cents just after the local jobs figures were released, and was at 79.98 US cents at 1630 AEST on Thursday, from 80.28 US cents on Wednesday.

Phillip Capital senior client adviser Michael Heffernan said the local share market had a good run upward on Monday and Tuesday and had finished "line ball" on Wednesday and Thursday.

"That's not bad compared to the two previous weeks - at least we've improved a bit," Mr Heffernan said.

He said mining stocks were having a breather "after a good couple of days".

In the resources sector, BHP Billiton eased 1.8 per cent to $26.89, Rio Tinto backtracked 1.6 per cent to $68.38, and South32 slipped 0.9 per cent to $3.20 as it went ex-dividend.

In the energy sector, firmer oil prices helped Woodside Petroleum lift 0.8 per cent to $28.54, and Santos climbed one per cent to to $3.94.

Among the major banks ANZ rose 0.5 per cent to $30.19, Westpac put on 0.3 per cent at $31.82, Commonwealth Bank improved 0.3 per cent to $76.75, and National Australia Bank was up 0.7 per cent to $30.94.

Department store operator Myer ascended one cent, or 1.4 per cent, to 73 cents after its full-year financial results were not as bad as many analysts had feared.

The retailer made just $11.94 million in statutory net profit for the 52 weeks to July 29, down 80.3 per cent on the previous 53-week year.

Underlying net profit was down 1.9pct to $67.9m.

Vocus Goup edged up one cent to $2.42 despite a proposed class action alleging the telecommunications provider had engaged in "misleading and deceptive conduct" and breached disclosure obligations.

Macquarie Atlas Roads was in a trading halt as it seeks to raise $450 million to help fund the expansion of its stake in a French motorway network.

Macquarie Atlas last traded at $5.53.

ON THE ASX:

* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 closed down 5.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,738.7 points.

* The broader All Ordinaries index was down 5.6 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 5,798.4 points.

* The September SPI200 futures contract was down 11 points or 0.19 per cent at 5,735 points.

* National turnover was 3.2 billion securities traded worth $5.0 billion.

CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:

One Australian dollar buys:

* 79.96 US cents, from 80.28 on Wednesday

* 88.3195 Japanese yen, from 88.39 yen

* 67.28 euro cents, from 67.04 euro cents

* 60.53 British pence, from 60.31 pence

* 110.53 NZ cents, from 110.07 cents

GOLD:

The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,321.58 per fine ounce, from $US1,330.02 per fine ounce on Wednesday.

BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:

* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 1.9764pct, from 1.9386pct on Wednesday

* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.6783pct, from 2.6186pct

Sydney Futures Exchange prices:

* August 2017 10-year bond futures contract at 97.2725 (implying a yield of 2.7275 pct), from 97.33 (2.67pct) on Wednesday

* August 2017 3-year bond futures contract at 97.93 (2.07pct), from 97.97 (2.03pct).

(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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