Aussie shares are lifting for a sixth straight session following another record close for the Dow Jones on Wall Street. The US Fed Reserve lifted rates by 25bps to a range of 1.25%-1.5% as the US economy continues to strengthen. The ASX 200 opened 13pts or 0.22% higher and is looking to hold around those levels towards lunch.
Gains in materials and energy stocks are leading the gains with real estate and utilities among the laggards. Miners BHP and South32 (S32) are among the main drivers in the materials space recording gains of 0.8% and 4.1% each respectively. While Westfield (WFD) has fallen back 2% following its 13.7% surge yesterday on the announcement that Westfield’s US and European centres would be sold to French property giant Unibail-Rodamco for $32.7 billion.
Myer (MYR) shares have been hit, slumping 7.6% as the department store advised that its sales and profits have worsened in the second quarter of FY18 after a tough first quarter. Sales in the first two weeks of December are down 5% while like-for-like sales were down 1.8% through November. MYR has also warned that 1H profit will be “materially below” a year ago.
Meanwhile, Australia’s competition regulator, the ACCC has opposed BP’s planned acquisition of Woolworth’s (WOW) 531 petrol stations claiming that petrol prices would rise if Woolworths was no longer in the picture. WOW is down 0.6% on the finding while Caltex (CTX) which currently is the fuel provider for Woolies’ service stations is 4.5% higher as it retains its fuel supply deal.
On a busy 24 hours of economic releases, Australian jobs data was released earlier this morning with employment jumping by 61,600 jobs in November, easily beating the consensus of 19,000. 41,900 of the 61,600 came in the form of full time jobs. The unemployment rate remains steady at 5.4% and more people are looking for work with the participation rate slightly higher at 65.5%. The Aussie dollar soared on the release, jumping to 76.7 US cents. Later today, Chinese retail sales and industrial production figures will be released as well.
So far, 1.4B units have changed hands worth $2.6B. 575 stocks are higher, 431 lower and 364 unchanged.
Originally published by CommSec