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Australian shares are off to a better start, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.3 per cent and breaking through 6000pts for the first time in a fortnight. This places the market within striking distance of a near 10-year high and follows largely directionless trade last week due to holiday in the US.
Almost all sectors are higher on Monday with healthcare stocks faring best. CSL, Cochlear (COH), Ramsay (RHC) and Sonic (SHL) are up by ~1 per cent. The major banks are only slightly higher while energy stocks are improving thanks to a stronger oil price.
The price of oil rose by 1.6 per cent to US$58.95/barrel on Friday, hitting a more than two-year high due to less supply in the US and reports Russia is close to agreeing on supply cuts with OPEC nations. This Thursday major oil producers are due to meet and formally decide on an extension to output cuts. The current agreement which sidelines almost 2 per cent of global supply is set to expire in March.
Downer EDI (DOW) is up 4.5 per cent and is faring best after delivering a market update. The engineering group has upgraded its profit guidance by $5m and now expects to make ~$195m in net profit. DOW is also anticipating greater savings than first thought following the purchase of Spotless (SPO).
In the losers column, South32 (S32) is the worst, sliding by 2.5 per cent. The miner – which split from BHP Billiton (BHP) in 2015 – surged by 4 per cent last week however on lifting commodity prices.
Webjet (WEB) continues to struggle, slipping 1 per cent after the travel agent flagged the likelihood of lower profits this year recently. This drove its shares down by 20 per cent last week.
We are entering the most important time of the year for retailers ahead of Christmas and the likely Amazon Australia launch in coming weeks will only complicate things further for local players. JB Hi-Fi (JBH), Harvey Norman (HVN), Premier (PMV) and Myer (MYR) are all down.
No major market moving data is due for release today.
This week, a handful of profit results will be released (Collins Foods and Aristocrat Leisure included) together with some Annual General Meetings (AGMs). The US tax reform bills will potentially be voted on by the Senate while updates on China’s economy this Thursday will also receive attention.
2.4bn shares have changed hands so far today, worth a light $1.6bn. 556 stocks are up, 497 down and 391 are steady.
Originally published by CommSec