Markets Live: Aussie Cracks US80¢

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Australian shares extended their current losing streak to three sessions on Thursday, as investors contrasted a raft of company updates with sharp gains on Wall Street made amid optimism over corporate earnings trends.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1 point to 6014 while the All Ordinaries index declined 3 points to 6130. The Australian dollar traded at US79.63¢ following strong jobs data for December that nonetheless did little to change interest rate expectations.

That data showed that the Australian unemployment rate reached 5.5 per cent in December, a touch higher than the 5.4 per cent economists had been expecting, while the number of jobs added to the economy soared to 34,700.

The sharemarket was similarly largely unmoved by the standout employment data, drifting lower through the session from early gains inspired by a fresh record highs on Wall Street in a session that saw the Dow close over 26,000 for the first time, just days after it hit the 25,000 level.

US investors are optimistic for company earnings against a backdrop of a strengthening US and global economy. The Australian market should also see further upside in stock prices, supported by rising earnings, Credit Suisse equity strategists said.

Current bottom-up expectations are for 10 per cent EPS growth for fiscal 2018 and a further 4 per cent for fiscal 2019, they noted.

During Thursday's session, miners extended losses from the previous day with GDP data from China set to be released after the close of trading.

Newcrest Mining declined 1.5 per cent to $23.01 and Whitehaven Coal fell 6.2 per cent to $4.40 after reducing its full year saleable coal output guidance.

BHP managed to eke out a 0.1 per cent advance to $30.78 after it cut its coking coal export target for fiscal 2018 and revealed its financial results in February would include exceptional items.

Woodside shares fell 0.8 per cent to $33.40 after strengthening oil prices failed to offset the impact of weaker production for in the December quarter and as analysts weighed the firm's output guidance.

South32 dropped 2.6 per cent to $3.82 a day after reporting its production numbers, after Credit Suisse downgraded the iron ore producer to underperform.

Embattled department store retailer Myer fell 1.5 per cent to 64¢ after it appointed a new chief operating officer and chief financial officer and said it is stepping up cost cutting after posting an unprecedented fall in sales before Christmas.

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