AUSTRALIAN STOCKS CLOSE FLAT: Here's what you need to know

The ritual at the Tirta Empul holy spring in Gianyar, Bali. Agung Parameswara/Getty Images

Australian stocks coasted to flat close after opening sharply down on falling iron ore prices and fears of another looming sell-off in China.

However, local investors returned to buying after better-than-expected Australian jobs numbers and when the Shanghai Composite Index reversed direction and headed higher.

Here’s the scoreboard:

  • S&P ASX 200: 5,471.00 +1.47 +0.03%
  • All Ordinaries: 5,456.30 -0.18 0.00%
  • AUD/USD: 0.7485 +0.0058 +0.78%

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 slumped 1.7% overnight. This helped pushed the local market and all ten sectors down, at one stage dropping more than 1.5% in value and falling below 5400 points on the ASX 200.

But the market was lifted higher by a surge on China markets. Seven out of ten local sectors closed higher.

Mining stocks carried the day, reacting to better news from China. BHP was up 1.77% to $25.88, Rio Tinto 1.66% to $50.89 and Fortescue Metals 6.57% to $1.785. BHP spinoff S32 was up 1.74% to $1.755.

At the close, the banks were all weaker but off their earlier lows. Westpac was down 0.84% to $32.88, the NAB 0.6% to $33.13, The Commonwealth 0.2% to $85.60 and the ANZ 0.19% to $32.21.

The top stories Thursday:

1. Official jobs numbers for June beat expectations. Those employed increased by 7,300. Unemployment rose to 6.0% from a downward-revised 5.9% rate of May. Nearly 300,000 jobs have been created since the coalition took office.

2. China stocks took off again. China’s measures to save the stock market have become dangerous for participants.

3. Telstra will spend $5 billion over the next three years to extend 4G to 99% of the Australian populations, to cope with an explosion in video and to maintain its leadership position on mobile. Telstra shares closed up 0.33% to $6.18.

4. A change in business focus is working. Caltex’s profits are up as it becomes more a fuel supplier than an oil refiner. Half year profit up 45% to $251 million. Caltex shares closed down 1.44% to $32.89.

5. Quickstep was one of the few stocks to rise in a falling market today as the carbon fibre parts manufacturer announced a global automotive parts deal. It closed up 1.74% to $0.175.

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