The Australian sharemarket is lifting for the fifth straight day, with the ASX 200 up 0.25 per cent at lunch thanks to solid gains from banks and miners. Local stocks have shrugged off a mixed performance from US equities and continue to build impressive momentum all while hitting fresh 10-year highs. Volume remains light as it generally takes investors and traders a couple of weeks in January to return from holidays.
Signs that spending was solid over Christmas for Australian retailers despite the launch of Amazon last month is helping support consumer discretionaries. Consumer confidence has also jumped by 4.7 per cent from mid-December according to a weekly survey of sentiment released this morning. JB Hi-Fi (JBH), Harvey Norman (HVN) and Super Retail Group (SUL) have all received broker upgrades today.
Mining stocks are being pushed higher thanks to gaining commodity prices. The price of oil edged higher by 0.5 per cent, iron ore hit a 6-month high and thermal coal (coal used for power and heat generation) is at a 14-month high.
Suncorp (SUN) is up 1.1 per cent; recouping Monday’s losses which were triggered by an update yesterday on natural hazard claims. The Queensland based insurer said it will take a $160-$170m hit from the Melbourne Hailstorms on 19 December. This means natural hazards will cost the group $60-$70m more than its allowance for 1H18.
Retail Food Group (RFG) is down 6.5 per cent after cutting its profit guidance. The owner of Crust Pizza and Gloria Jean’s now expects to make less than $22m in 1H18, which it has blamed on a delay to a UK deal (Crust and Donut King Franchise Agreements).
Brambles (BXB) announced the sale of its recycled pallets business in North America in a deal worth US$115m. It considers its CHEP Recycled business to be ‘non-core’.
St Barbara Mines (SBM) has dug up more gold in the 1H of the year than expected which has prompted a lift in its output guidance for the year (FY18). The gold miner now expects to produce between 365,000 – 385,000 ounces of the metal (previously 350,000 – 375,000).
Volume remains a little light, with 2.5bn shares traded worth $1.7bn. 512 stocks are up, 575 down and 385 are flat.
Originally published by CommSec