Stocks See Red

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April 6th, 2011

After early gains, the local market edged into negative territory. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index hit an intraday high of 4924 in early trade before closing 4.8 points lower at 4908, while the All Ordinaries shed 5.9 points to 5005.5.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics said 37,800 jobs were added to the labour market in March, significantly higher than the 24,000 increase tipped by economists, while the unemployment rate fell to 4.9% from 5% in February.

Following the release of the jobs data, the Australian dollar soared to a fresh all-time high of $US1.0482 before cooling slightly to $US1.0459 by 4.00pm AEST.

It was a mixed day for Australia's major mining stocks despite a strong session for commodity prices on the London Metal Exchange in overnight trade.

BHP Billiton finished A27c lower at $47.68, while rival Rio Tinto shed 10c to $86.

Fortescue Metals Group added 1c to $6.68 while OZ Minerals closed 1.5c higher at $1.65.

Gold play Medusa Mining was one of a handful of mining stocks on the Final Call watchlist to gain ground, closing 52c higher at $7.93.

At the other end of the spectrum, Sundance Resources finished 1c or 2% lower at 47.5c.

The Australian reported today that Sundance's search for partners to assist in developing its Mbalam iron ore project had been narrowed down to three Chinese state-owned steel mills. The company is reportedly seeking a 50% partner for the project.

In other mining news, the Foreign Investment Review Board has given an offtake and investment deal between Australia's Lynas Corporation and Japan's Sojitz Corporation the thumbs-up.

Lynas shares finished 4c lower at $2.39.

Base metals on the LME in today's trade in Singapore were mixed following last night's gains.

Copper for three-month delivery lost 0.14% to $US9591 per tonne, zinc shed 0.61% to $2435/t and lead fell 0.53% to $2805/t.

Nickel gained 1.14% to $26,730/t, aluminium added 0.19% to $2675/t and tin was unchanged at $32,100/t.

Spot gold shed some of its recent gains today, dipping $5.07 to $1454.63 an ounce at 4.21pm.