Local shares opened with a pop after a strong start from miners, rebounding from yesterday’s losses with the ASX 200 lifting 33 points on the open. That positive momentum hasn’t been maintained as the session progresses with the top 200 index falling from its earlier highs. Approaching lunch, the AASX 200 is trading 5 points or 0.1% higher at 5879.
Behind the early gains was the movement of the major miners, iron ore prices rose again in overnight trade as the dam disaster at a Brazilian mine operated by Vale could impact iron ore supply over the near term. Rio Tinto (RIO) jumped 6.5% before easing back to a gain of 3.9%. BHP Group (BHP) is also 2.5% higher while Fortescue (FMG) is the most improved of the major miners, climbing 7%.
Gold miner, Newcrest (NCM) is another notable improver as it lifts 3.2% on the back of a solid quarterly update. Australia’s largest gold miner saw output jump 19% to 654,849oz and expects to continue lifting output over the second half of FY19. Costs also fell with the All-In Sustaining Cost lower by 7% to US$720/tonne.
Further gains are being held back by losses for the major banks with Commonwealth Bank (CBA) leading the losses, down 0.5%. Woolworths (WOW) is also weaker by 1% while Qantas (QAN) is sliding 5% on no particular news.
GUD Holdings (GUD) has slumped 13% after announcing a 3% increase to its 1H19 net profit to $29.3 million. Syrah Resources (SYR) is also weaker by 15% on its December quarterly update. Q4 graphite production was 33kt with 104kt mined for the full year in 2018 at its Balama mine. These figures coming in-line with revised guidance. SYR did note that production was impacted by fire damage in October at its Balama operations.
The highly anticipated December quarter inflation figures have come in a touch above or in line with expectations. The main measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index (CPI), rose 0.5% over the three months to Dec, beating expectations. The annual rate eased from 1.9% to 1.8% and remains below the RBA target band of 2-3%. The Aussie dollar spiked on the release, buying 71.85 US cents.
So far, 1.1b units have traded worth $2.5b with 476 stocks higher, 433 lower and 358 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec