RTTNews - After trading in a wide range amid thin volumes, the Australian stock market ended in negative territory on Thursday. A smaller-than-expected increase in the unemployment rate helped trim some of the losses as traders preferred to stay on the sidelines amid concerns about the global economy.

In the U.S., stocks ended mixed amid choppy trading as traders preferred to stay away from taking positions ahead of results from Alcoa. Defensive stocks such as pharmaceuticals, retail and oil service stocks posted gains, while metals, banks, telecommunication and networking stocks saw considerable weakness.

The Dow closed up by 14.81 points or 0.2% at 8,178 and the Nasdaq rose by 1 point or 0.1% to 1,747, while the S&P 500 fell 1.47 points or 0.2% to 880.

The All Ordinaries Index opened unchanged from its previous close at 3,766 and drifted into negative territory However, the index trimmed its losses, as traders digested Alcoa's results and a better-than-expected jobs report. The index ended with a loss of 4.60 points, or 0.12% at 3,761. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index followed a similar trend and ended with a loss of 4.60 points, or 0.12% at 3,763.

On the economic front, the Australian Bureau of Statistics revealed that the unemployment rate rose 0.1% in June from the month before to 5.8%, the highest level since October 2003. Economists expected the employment rate to touch 5.9%. The number of employed Australians decreased by 21,400 in June, also less than the 25,000 decline estimated by economists. Separately, a Survey of Consumer Inflation Expectations conducted by the Melbourne Institute showed that the median expected inflation rate rose to 3.2% in July from 2.8% in June.

Light sweet crude oil for August delivery ended at $60.56 a barrel in Asian trading, up $0.42 a barrel, after declining $2.79 to close $60.14 a barre in New York amid increasing concerns about demand and a global recovery.

Diversified manufacturing company CSR Ltd gained 5.59% following reports that the company expects to report higher earnings for the year ending March 2010.

Gold stocks ended mixed despite a drop in bullion prices. Lihir Gold advanced 1.42% and Newcrest Mining added 2.10%. However, Sino Gold declined 1.65%.

Mixed trend is being witnessed among metal stocks. Rio Tinto shed 1.47%, Fortescue Metals fell 2.25%, and Oz Minerals lost 3.91%. However, BHP Billiton bucked the trend and ended with a gain of 0.47%.

Oil stocks ended mixed. While Woodside Petroleum edged down 0.22%, Santos gained 1.77% and Oil Search advanced 1.35%.

Financial stocks also ended mixed. ANZ Bank fell 2.76% Commonwealth Bank Australia slipped 0.43% and National Australia Bank edged down 0.09%. However, Westpac Banking bucked the trend and edged up 0.21%.

For comments and feedback: contact editorial@rttnews.com