The Australian share market edged higher, supported by energy, health care and consumer-exposed stocks, as US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held talks aimed at denuclearisation of the Korean peninsular.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index rose 9.2 points, or 0.15 per cent, to 6,054.4 points, while the broader All Ordinaries added 8 points, or 0.13 per cent, to 6,164.8 points.
Tribeca deputy portfolio manager Jun Bei Liu said there was little news to come out of the historic summit, and investors turned to defensive stocks ahead of a rate decision by the US Federal Reserve on Thursday, followed by a European Central Bank meeting.
The US and North Korean leaders signed what President Trump described as a “comprehensive letter”, though there were no immediate details on the document’s content.
“It seems positive but there doesn’t look like there’s anything real coming out of it. That’s why you’re seeing investors moving back into defensive stocks,” Ms Liu said.
“The market is only up marginally, driven pretty much by the energy names.
“What’s weighing it down is really financials following weaker leads from overnight, and materials is a little bit weaker on the back of some of the weaker commodity prices.”
In the energy sector, Woodside Petroleum gained 1.4 per cent to $33.94, Santos added 0.7 per cent to $5.93 and Caltex Australia was 2.8 per cent higher at $30.17 after flagging an increase in its first-half underlying profit of up to seven per cent.
Health care giant CSL added one per cent to $191.18 and Ramsay Health Care was 2.7 per cent stronger at $58.18.
Wesfarmers, which owns retailers Coles, Kmart and Target, rose 1.3 per cent to $46.96 after completing the sale of hardware chain Homebase following its disastrous foray into the UK home improvement market.
All four big banks lost ground, with Commonwealth Bank the worst performer, dropping 0.8 per cent to $68.85.
Miners were also weaker, with Rio Tinto down 1.7 per cent at $85.10 and BHP Billiton down 1.1 per cent at $33.69, while Ausdrill plunged 20.2 per cent to $1.90 after it said the value of one of its contracts will be about half the previously announced $180 million over three years.
The Australian dollar briefly fell below 76 US cents in morning trade, but bounced back following the release of slightly better than expected housing finance data, in which the number of loan approvals fell by less than economists had forecast.
The local currency was trading at 76.10 US cents at 1630 AEST, from 76.09 US cents on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 was up 9.2 points, or 0.15 per cent, at 6,054.4 points
* The broader All Ordinaries index was up 8 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 6,164.8 points
* The SPI200 futures contract was up 4 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 6,055 points.
* National turnover was 4.2 billion securities traded worth $7.3 billion.
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1700 AEST:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 76.10 US cents, from 76.09 US cents on Monday
* 83.96 Japanese yen, from 83.71 yen
* 64.67 euro cents, from 64.44 euro cents
* 57.00 British pence, from 56.67 pence
* 108.22 NZ cents, from 108.12 NZ cents
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1700 AEST was $US1,297.65 per fine ounce, from $US1,297.27 per fine ounce on Monday.
BOND SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEST:
* CGS 4.50 per cent April 2020, 2.1874pct, from 2.1766pct on Friday
* CGS 4.75pct April 2027, 2.8059pct, from 2.7758pct
Sydney Futures Exchange prices:
* June 2018 10-year bond futures contract at 97.190 (implying a yield of 2.810pct), from 97.220 (2.780pct) on Friday
* June 2018 3-year bond futures contract at 97.770 (2.230pct), from 97.785 (2.215pct).
(*Bond market closes taken at 1630 AEST previous local session; currency closes taken from 1700 AEST previous local session)