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The Australian market is off to a firmer start, with the ASX 200 lifting by 0.14 per cent, rising back above 6000pts earlier and remaining near two-week highs. It will be important to see if the index can close above 6000pts as it failed to do so yesterday due to fading enthusiasm in the afternoon. Losses from some mining, energy and telco stocks are holding the market back most.
While the market was directionless last week, almost all this year’s 5.5 per cent gains were recorded over the past two months. Equities have been building up some healthy momentum recently and December over the past decade has been a positive month for the Australian sharemarket (most of the time).
Origin (ORG) is up 2 per cent and is the best performer in the energy sector today after reaffirming guidance for FY18. ORG has raised expectations for production from its Eraring coal fired plant in NSW (the country’s largest power station).
IOOF Holdings (IFL) is up 4.5 per cent after the financial services business received broker upgrades.
Macquarie (MQG) is up 0.7 per cent, remains near record highs and is trading above $100/share for just the second time ever.
Gaming group, Tatts (TTS) said revenue has jumped by 6.8 per cent to $743.1m over the first quarter thanks to a lift in its lotteries business. TTS owns Oz Lotto, Powerball and Golden Casket brands. Two jackpots above $50m in recent months has been helpful in boosting revenue. Generally the more jackpots over the influential $15m mark, the bigger the revenue.
BHP Billiton (BHP) aims to cut costs further in Australia by another 10 per cent over the medium term. BHP shares are down 1.6 per cent and is the main weight on the market.
Mayne Pharma (MYX) is down 1.5 per cent after the pharmaceutical group announced a 12 per cent slide in revenue over the past four months. It partly blamed lower prices for generic drugs in the US.
Consumer confidence eased by 1.2 per cent last week to 115. Retailers are not being adversely impacted with JB Hi-Fi (JBH), Premier (PMV) and Myer (MYR) lifting. Consumer sentiment hit a 16-week high a week earlier and is still above the long-term average.
The price of oil fell by 1.4 per cent last night on doubts over Russia’s likely support of an output cut agreement ahead of a key OPEC meeting this Thursday. Oil prices are still up ~4.5 per cent in just a week and remain near two-year highs.
2.2bn shares have been traded so far today, worth $2.2bn. 545 stocks are up, 497 are down and 369 are unchanged.
Originally published by CommSec