The Aussie market continues to gain ground, opening higher despite Wall St stumbling in overnight trade. The main US indexes all ended weaker with the Dow and S&P 500 falling 0.7% as investors remained concerned about trade issues, especially between the US and China while the US Federal Reserve also kept interest rates on hold between 15%-1.75%. Back home, the ASX 200 is advancing by 47 points or 0.8% to 6097 points towards lunch.
Gains have been quite broad based with a majority of sectors in positive territory. Resource stocks have been among the strongest advancers with major miners and energy producers making gains in early trade. BHP Billiton (BHP) and Rio Tinto (RIO) are both rising around 1% while South32 (S32) is climbing 3.5%. The consumer staples have also provided support to the market with major supermarkets Woolworths (WOW) up 2% following yesterday’s positive quarterly sales update and Coles owner, Wesfarmers (WES) higher by 0.9% with Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) gaining 3%.
Financials are higher despite a 0.5% decline in the National Australia Bank (NAB), which announced its half year results this morning. The NAB lifted revenue by 2.5% year on year but cash earnings came in 0.2% lower at $3.3 billion excluding restructuring-related costs. Net interest margin (NIM) was up 5bps and the bank announced it is planning to exit its advice business including MLC with a possible sale or IPO.
Super Retail Group (SUL) which operates brands such as Supercheap Auto, Rebel Sport & BCF, have seen its share price jump 9% after releasing a trading update. Like-for-like sales at Supercheap Auto rose by 4.4% for the 17 weeks to 28 April, with a 2.2% lift in sales at Rebel. BCF sales fell 0.4% over the same period. SUL’s recent acquisition of outdoor clothing company Macpac is expected to add ~$5 million to Group EBIT for FY18.
Westfield (WFD) shares are down 0.9% with the shopping centre operator also releasing a quarterly update. WFD recorded specialty sales growth of 3.5% for the three months ending 31 March 2018 and updated the market that it’s proposed merger with Unibail-Rodamco “continues to progress”.
On the economic front, the CBA Service PMI eased slightly in April to 55.2 but remains above the long run average. While Australia’s trade balance for March came in with a surplus of $1.5 billion vs an $865 million surplus. The Aussie dollar is lifting off its lows during the US session and trading around 75.2 US cents. So far, 1.49 billion units have been traded worth $2.5 billion with 624 stocks higher, 410 lower and 355 unchanged.
Published by CommSec