Mining and health care stocks lifted the Australian share market higher, but the gains did little to recover the significant losses inflicted during Monday’s trading.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 23.4 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 5575.9 at 1615 AEDT on Tuesday, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 0.42 per cent.
CMC Markets chief strategist Michael McCarthy says the local market is treading water after the depths reached on Monday as Brexit chaos rages in the UK and US volatility persists.
“The reality is a single headline or a single tweet could change the direction of the markets very sharply and investors are very aware of that,” he told AAP.
“It’s a tough call for local investors as to where they should be going.”
Major miners lifted the materials sector higher on stronger industrial metal and commodity prices, with BHP climbing 1.4 per cent to $31.72 and Rio Tinto rising 1.3 per cent to $72.88.
South32 and Fortescue Metals were 1.6 and 1.5 per cent higher respectively, while BlueScope lost 0.4 per cent.
Health care shares were the strongest performer on the indices with benchmark CSL up 2.1 per cent to $180.38, while ResMed was particularly buoyant, rising 3.7 per cent to $15.60.
The financial sector was choppy throughout trading and closed flat, but the big four lenders all finished in the black.
Westpac had the strongest gains, up 0.8 per cent to $25.06, and Commonwealth the weakest, up 0.2 per cent to $68.43.
Macquarie was 0.1 per cent lower, while QBE Insurance tumbled more than four per cent to $9.96 after flagging a three-year, $130 million cost-cutting program, as well as greater reinsurance for extreme and catastrophic events.
QBE says its operational efficiency program will incur around $95 million of restructuring costs over 2019-20 and an expense ratio of around 14 per cent by 2021.
Energy stocks reversed earlier gains following subdued oil prices, with Woodside, Oil Search, Santos, and Caltex posting losses of between 0.6 and 1.1 per cent.
New Hope and Whitehaven, however, jumped 7.9 and 3.6 per cent respectively on stronger coal prices.
Cimic Group rose 4.7 per cent to $41.65, lifting the industrial sector higher, after being selected to deliver a capital waterworks program in Tasmania.
The Australian dollar edged lower as the greenback firmed against the pound, buying 72.04 US cents at 1630 AEDT, down from 72.17 US cents on Monday.
ON THE ASX:
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed up 23.4 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 5575.9
* The All Ordinaries was up 23.7 points, or 0.42 per cent, at 5651.2
* At 1630 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was up 39 points, or 0.7 per cent, at 5591
CURRENCY SNAPSHOT AT 1630 AEDT:
One Australian dollar buys:
* 72.04 US cents, from 72.17 US cents on Monday
* 81.48 Japanese yen, from 81.17
* 63.38 euro cents, from 63.13
* 57.26 British pence, from 56.61
* 104.72 NZ cents, from 104.72
The spot price of gold in Sydney at 1630 AEDT was $US1246.68 per fine ounce, from $US1249.15 on Monday.