Local shares are continuing on from the best day of gains seen yesterday on the local bourse. The ASX 200 is 8pts or 0.1% higher and has broken above the 5900 point mark and looking. Overnight, US markets rose by more than 1% with the release of producer prices and industrial production data. The data is used to help gauge economic activity which central banks use to help determine interest rate movements.
Back home, most sectors are pushing higher with financials and healthcare stocks driving gains. The big four banks are all higher, led by Commonwealth Bank which is 1.2% higher while Suncorp (SUN) is rebounding 2.9% after falling 2.4% yesterday. Among the healthcare stocks, CSL is up 1.5% and Healthscope (HSO) is climbing 5.5% after its half yearly earnings result yesterday. The mining and energy sectors are currently the main drag on the market. While major miners BHP and Rio Tinto (RIO) are flat, South32 is down 4.5% after falling 5% yesterday on its earnings release. Gold miners are also weaker with Newcrest Mining (NCM) slipping 3.5%.
Whitehaven Coal (WHC) is down 4.4% despite the coal miner lifting its first half net profit by 63% to $257.2 million. Sales revenue also increased 39% to $1.1 billion but the company did flag a reduction in production from its Narrabri mine causing it to revise FY18 guidance for coal to the range of 20.5Mt to 21Mt.
The Star Entertainment Group also announced earnings results. The Star saw its statutory net profit slump 77% to $32.9 million while revenue was mostly flat at $1.2 billion. SGR is forecasting softer than expected trading in the second half for its Sydney operations. SGR shares are down 5.5%. Medibank Private (MPL) is faring better rising 2.4% after reporting a $245.6 million first half net profit. Insurance premiums also rose 1.8% to $3.2 billion with a lift in the acquisition rate.
In other company news, McGrath (MEA) are up 1.2% after resuming trade from a trading halt following speculation in the media over founder John McGrath. In economic news, RBA governor Phillip Lowe provided a speech on keeping interest rates low to lift wages and reduce unemployment. Mr Lowe made mention that rates are not expected to move in the near term. The Aussie dollar is trading around US79.4 cents. So far, 1.3B units have traded worth $2.3B with 577 stocks higher, 453 lower and 359 unchanged.
Originally published by CommSec