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With January being the best monthly performance since April last year, the start to February has been more subdued as the ASX 200 climbs 3 points to 5868 approaching lunch on Friday. This follows a mixed lead from Wall Street. For the week, the top 200 index is currently looking at a weekly loss of 0.5% in the holiday shortened week.
The performance of the miners is underpinning the improvements so far as commodity prices, particularly iron ore, continue to rally on supply concerns. BHP Group (BHP) and Fortescue Metals (FMG) are advancing between 1-2%. Rio Tinto (RIO) is lifting a slightly more modest 0.9%. Gold miners are also experiencing gains with OceanaGold (OGC) up 2% and Newcrest Mining (NCM) 1.6% higher.
Consumer facing stocks are also seeing gains with Treasury Wine Estates (TWE) one of the standouts. The owner of wine brands such as Penfolds and Wolf Blass is lifting 1.9% while supermarket giant Woolworths (WOW) is 0.4% higher.
Financials are mixed after being the main laggard for the majority of the week. The four major lenders have come under selling pressure ahead of the public release of the Royal Commission findings after market close at 4:10pm AEDT on Monday afternoon (February 4). Energy stocks are the main drag so far with Santos (STO) and Origin Energy (ORG) leading the losses.
In company news, Healthscope (HSO) is climbing 3.8% after the private hospital operator accepted a $4.5 billion takeover offer by Canadian private equity firm Brookfield Partners. The deal is still subject to shareholder and court approval. Wisetech Global (WTC) has eased 0.4% after the acquisition of Norwegian customs and logistics solutions provider, Systema AS, for an upfront cost of $3 million.
Reliance Worldwide (RWC) is weaker by 3.1% after reaffirming FY19 earnings (EBITDA) guidance but could be negatively impacted by 1.5-3% depending on weather conditions in the US.
The Aussie dollar continues to trade at its best levels since early December, buying 72.7 US cents. So far today, 1.2b units have traded worth $2.1b with 471 stocks higher, 436 weaker and 329 unchanged.
Published by James Tao, CommSec